All posts by Eric "smurph" Murphy

Eric is a software engineer and father of two, who's hobbies include video games, open source software, and just being a geek.

Iranian Activists Enabled by US Technology

Onion routing is some seriously cool secure networking. This is way beyond encrypted tunnels. Basically you have a series of “onion routers” which each have their own public/private keys. When you send a message to the first router, it randomly picks a series of the other routers and encrypts the message with each of those routers’ public keys. Then it sends the message to the last router who’s key was used to encrypt it. That router decrypts it and sends the message to the next router who’s key was used to encrypt the message. So you have multiple layers of encryption, each router peels a layer from the “onion” and sends it to the next router creating a completely random path. When it reaches its destination, the response is put in the included “reply onion” and sent back a different path. Therefore not even the destination knows the origin!

In order to compromise this, one must either have control of ALL the onion routers, or break the multiple layers of encryption. Sounds pretty solid to me.

I just have to note one thing though, the Wired article is inaccurate since its saying they’re poking holes in Iran’s firewall. Really its not poking holes. Poking holes implies you’ve hacked the firewall and opened up access to something that was previously blocked. This tech is sending encrypted packets through protocols and ports that are apparently still open. Whoever controls the firewall could easily block known onion routers or block the protocols/ports they’re using, making it a much more difficult first hop. They also do not mention if this traffic is masked as simple web traffic or what. Onion routing is simply a means to disguise the origin, destination, path, and messages, not for bypassing firewalls. However, if the firewalls block Twitter.com, for example, the firewall would not know to block these onion messages going to a random onion router who’s final destination is Twitter.com. Still, that’s not “poking holes” in anyone’s firewall. That’s just being sneaky.

Must reads:
Activists Use U.S. Tech to Poke Holes in Iran Firewall[Wired]
Onion Routing[Wikipedia]

I don’t know why, but I…

… signed up for twitter.

Mostly I wanted to follow a few game developers, Co-Optimus, stalk Felicia Day and such. Not going to post updates to it obsessively like some people1 but it is set up to tweet new blog posts.

Btw, just kidding about stalking Felicia Day. She must have a ton of creepy, geeky, WoW obsessed stalkers. Poor girl. Anyway, she’s funny, that’s why I’m “following” her. If she gets annoying I’m removing her though ­čśŤ

1You have to watch this…

A Letter to Sam, You’re a Serious Heartbreaker

Dear Serious Sam,

You’re coming to XBL Arcade, so I should be ecstatic right? After all, you’re one of my all-time favorite co-op shooters. They don’t get much better than you, when looking for an over-the-top shooter that is insanely fun. But, alas, Sam, you broke my heart with this news because while you are coming to my favorite platform with the new Serious Engine 3, improved graphics, and 4 player co-op goodness, you forgot about split screen! The old you wouldn’t have done this. You even had split screen on PC. PC!! I can count the number of split screen, co-op, PC games I’ve owned on one hand (and probably have fingers to spare) and you’re one of them! So why would you omit this legendary feature on a console where split screen really thrives?

Sam, I say this with great regret, even though you’re a mere $15 (1200 MS Points), I’m not going to purchase you on XBLA until you can prove to me you’re still worth it. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m married to a gamer, she likes playing shooters and I think she’d love you. But without split screen, we’re just not having it. I’m sorry, Sam. I guess this is goodbye until the other new Serious Sam title comes out, but since you’re built on the same Serious Engine 3, I’m not keeping my hopes up for split screen.

Missing You,

smurph

Lets Beam the Internet to Iran!

I love these types of stories. A reporter asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs if the White House was considering beaming broadband internet to Iran via satellite┬á so opposition forces could communicate more freely. That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard in a while.┬áLets just wave our magic wand so our satellites start talking to cell phones that are designed to talk to cell towers. Yeah, good idea!

Lets put it this way. Ignoring the fact that satellite and cell phones are different technology, and that the cell phones would need complicated re-programming to talk to a different network, you’re still asking a tiny cell phone to hold a two way link with a satellite orbiting the Earth instead of a cell tower just miles away. Any other crazy ideas would involve smuggling in quite a bit of equipment which would make for easily traceable targets.

In case you were wondering, for a satellite to be in geosynchronous orbit, they have to be about 22,300 miles from the Earth’s surface.

Source: Slashdot Technology Story | Could We Beam Broadband Internet Into Iran?.