Links for 2017-10-06

  • The world’s first cyber-attack, on the Chappe telegraph system, in Bordeaux in 1834

    The Blanc brothers traded government bonds at the exchange in the city of Bordeaux, where information about market movements took several days to arrive from Paris by mail coach. Accordingly, traders who could get the information more quickly could make money by anticipating these movements. Some tried using messengers and carrier pigeons, but the Blanc brothers found a way to use the telegraph line instead. They bribed the telegraph operator in the city of Tours to introduce deliberate errors into routine government messages being sent over the network. The telegraph’s encoding system included a “backspace” symbol that instructed the transcriber to ignore the previous character. The addition of a spurious character indicating the direction of the previous day’s market movement, followed by a backspace, meant the text of the message being sent was unaffected when it was written out for delivery at the end of the line. But this extra character could be seen by another accomplice: a former telegraph operator who observed the telegraph tower outside Bordeaux with a telescope, and then passed on the news to the Blancs. The scam was only uncovered in 1836, when the crooked operator in Tours fell ill and revealed all to a friend, who he hoped would take his place. The Blanc brothers were put on trial, though they could not be convicted because there was no law against misuse of data networks. But the Blancs’ pioneering misuse of the French network qualifies as the world’s first cyber-attack.

    (tags: bordeaux hacking history security technology cyber-attacks telegraph telegraphes-chappe)

  • Slack 103: Communication and culture

    Interesting note on some emergent Slack communications systems using emoji: “redirect raccoon”, voting, and “I’m taking a look at this”

    (tags: slack communications emojis emoji online talk chat)

  • This Future Looks Familiar: Watching Blade Runner in 2017

    I told a lot of people that I was going to watch Blade Runner for the first time, because I know that people have opinions about Blade Runner. All of them gave me a few watery opinions to keep in mind going in—nothing that would spoil me, but things that would help me understand what they assured me would be a Very Strange Film. None of them told me the right things, though.

    (tags: culture movies film blade-runner politics slavery replicants)

  • poor man’s profiler

    ‘Sampling tools like oprofile or dtrace’s profile provider don’t really provide methods to see what [multithreaded] programs are blocking on – only where they spend CPU time. Though there exist advanced techniques (such as systemtap and dtrace call level probes), it is overkill to build upon that. Poor man doesn’t have time. Poor man needs food.’ Basically periodically grabbing stack traces from running processes using gdb.

    (tags: gdb profiling linux unix mark-callaghan stack-traces performance)

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