Entries Tagged "movie-plot threat contests"

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Eighth Movie-Plot Threat Contest Winner

On April 1, I announced the Eighth Movie-Plot Threat Contest:

I want a movie-plot threat that shows the evils of encryption. (For those who don’t know, a movie-plot threat is a scary-threat story that would make a great movie, but is much too specific to build security policies around. Contest history here.) We’ve long heard about the evils of the Four Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse — terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, and child pornographers. (Or maybe they’re terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers; I can never remember.) Try to be more original than that. And nothing too science fictional; today’s technology or presumed technology only.

On May 14, I announced the five semifinalists. The votes are in, and the winner is TonyK:

November 6 2020, the morning of the presidential election. This will be the first election where votes can be cast from smart phones and laptops. A record turnout is expected.

There is much excitement as live results are being displayed all over the place. Twitter, television, apps and websites are all displaying the vote counts. It is a close race between the leading candidates until about 9 am when a third candidate starts to rapidly close the gap. He was an unknown independent that had suspected ties to multiple terrorist organizations. There was outrage when he got on to the ballot, but it had quickly died down when he put forth no campaign effort.

By 11 am the independent was predicted to win, and the software called it for him at 3:22 pm.

At 4 the CEO of the software maker was being interviewed on CNN. There were accusations of everything from bribery to bugs to hackers being responsible for the results. Demands were made for audits and recounts. Some were even asking for the data to be made publicly available. The CEO calmly explained that there could be no audit or recount. The system was encrypted end to end and all the votes were cryptographically anonymized.

The interviewer was stunned and sat there in silence. When he eventually spoke, he said “We just elected a terrorist as the President of the United States.”

For the record, Nick P was a close runner-up.

Congratulations, TonyK. Contact me by e-mail, and I’ll send you your fabulous prizes.

Previous contests.

EDITED TO ADD (6/14): Slashdot thread.

Posted on June 13, 2015 at 12:11 PMView Comments

Eighth Movie-Plot Threat Contest Semifinalists

On April 1, I announced the Eighth Movie Plot Threat Contest: demonstrate the evils of encryption.

Not a whole lot of good submissions this year. Possibly this contest has run its course, and there’s not a whole lot of interest left. On the other hand, it’s heartening to know that there aren’t a lot of encryption movie-plot threats out there.

Anyway, here are the semifinalists.

  1. Child pornographers.
  2. Bombing the NSA.
  3. Torture.
  4. Terrorists and a vaccine.
  5. Election systems.

Cast your vote by number here; voting closes at the end of the month.

Contest.

Previous contests.

Posted on May 14, 2015 at 11:26 PMView Comments

The Eighth Movie-Plot Threat Contest

It’s April 1, and time for another Movie-Plot Threat Contest. This year, the theme is Crypto Wars II. Strong encryption is evil, because it prevents the police from solving crimes. (No, really — that’s the argument.) FBI Director James Comey is going to be hard to beat with his heartfelt litany of movie-plot threats:

“We’re drifting toward a place where a whole lot of people are going to be looking at us with tears in their eyes,” Comey argued, “and say ‘What do you mean you can’t? My daughter is missing. You have her phone. What do you mean you can’t tell me who she was texting with before she disappeared?”

[…]

“I’ve heard tech executives say privacy should be the paramount virtue,” Comey said. “When I hear that, I close my eyes and say, ‘Try to imagine what that world looks like where pedophiles can’t be seen, kidnappers can’t be seen, drug dealers can’t be seen.'”

(More Comey here.)

Come on, Comey. You might be able to scare noobs like Rep. John Carter with that talk, but you’re going to have to do better if you want to win this contest. We heard this same sort of stuff out of then-FBI director Louis Freeh in 1996 and 1997.

This is the contest: I want a movie-plot threat that shows the evils of encryption. (For those who don’t know, a movie-plot threat is a scary-threat story that would make a great movie, but is much too specific to build security policies around. Contest history here.) We’ve long heard about the evils of the Four Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse — terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, and child pornographers. (Or maybe they’re terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers; I can never remember.) Try to be more original than that. And nothing too science fictional; today’s technology or presumed technology only.

Entries are limited to 500 words — I check — and should be posted in the comments. At the end of the month, I’ll choose five or so semifinalists, and we can all vote and pick the winner.

The prize will be signed copies of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the 2nd Edition of Applied Cryptography, and the 15th Anniversary Edition of Secrets and Lies, both being published by Wiley this year in an attempt to ride the Data and Goliath bandwagon.

Good luck.

Posted on April 1, 2015 at 6:33 AMView Comments

Seventh Movie-Plot Threat Contest Winner

On April 1, I announced the Seventh Mostly Annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest:

The NSA has won, but how did it do it? How did it use its ability to conduct ubiquitous surveillance, its massive data centers, and its advanced data analytics capabilities to come out on top? Did it take over the world overtly, or is it just pulling the strings behind everyone’s backs? Did it have to force companies to build surveillance into its products, or could it just piggy-back on market trends? How does it deal with liberal democracies and ruthless totalitarian dictatorships at the same time? Is it blackmailing Congress? How does the money flow? What’s the story?

On May 15, I announced the five semifinalists. The votes are in, and the winner is Doubleplusunlol:

The NSA, GCHQ et al actually don’t have the ability to conduct the mass surveillance that we now believe they do. Edward Snowden was in fact groomed, without his knowledge, to become a whistleblower, and the leaked documents were elaborately falsified by the NSA and GCHQ.

The encryption and security systems that ‘private’ companies are launching in the wake of theses ‘revelations’, however, are in fact being covertly funded by the NSA/GCHQ — the aim being to encourage criminals and terrorists to use these systems, which the security agencies have built massive backdoors into.

The laws that Obama is now about to pass will in fact be the laws that the NSA will abide by — and will entrench mass surveillance as a legitimate government tool before the NSA even has the capability to perform it. That the online populace believes that they are already being watched will become a self-fulfilling prophecy; the people have built their own panopticon, wherein the belief that the Government is omniscient is sufficient for the Government to control them.

“He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection.” ­ Michel Foucault, Surveiller et punir, 1975

For the record, Guy Macon was a close runner-up.

Congratulations, Doubleplusunlol. Contact me by e-mail, and I’ll send you your fabulous prizes.

Posted on June 13, 2014 at 6:12 AMView Comments

Seventh Movie-Plot Threat Contest Semifinalists

On April 1, I announced the Seventh Movie Plot Threat Contest:

The NSA has won, but how did it do it? How did it use its ability to conduct ubiquitous surveillance, its massive data centers, and its advanced data analytics capabilities to come out on top? Did it take over the world overtly, or is it just pulling the strings behind everyone’s backs? Did it have to force companies to build surveillance into its products, or could it just piggy-back on market trends? How does it deal with liberal democracies and ruthless totalitarian dictatorships at the same time? Is it blackmailing Congress? How does the money flow? What’s the story?

Submissions are in, and here are the semifinalists.

  1. Snowden as an NSA plant to incent homebrew crypto, by Doubleplusunlol.
  2. The NSA’s quantum computer by Joshua Brulé.
  3. NSA takes over Google, by Jesse Shapiro.
  4. NSA, working for good, got the world dependent on them, by Guy Macon.
  5. Homeopathic factoring, by Ian McKellar.

Cast your vote by number; voting closes at the end of the month.

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 6:08 AM

Seventh Movie-Plot Threat Contest

As you might expect, this year’s contest has the NSA as the villain:

The NSA has won, but how did it do it? How did it use its ability to conduct ubiquitous surveillance, its massive data centers, and its advanced data analytics capabilities to come out on top? Did it take over the world overtly, or is it just pulling the strings behind everyone’s backs? Did it have to force companies to build surveillance into its products, or could it just piggy-back on market trends? How does it deal with liberal democracies and ruthless totalitarian dictatorships at the same time? Is it blackmailing Congress? How does the money flow? What’s the story?

That’s it: an NSA movie-plot threat. (For those who don’t know, a movie-plot threat is a scary-threat story that would make a great movie, but is much too specific to build security policies around.) Nothing too science fictional; today’s technology or presumed technology only.

Entries are limited to 500 words, and should be posted in the comments. In a month, I’ll choose some semifinalists, and we can all vote and pick the winner.

Prize will be something tangible, but primarily the accolades of your peers.

Good luck.

History: The First Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules and winner. The Second Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Third Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Fourth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules and winner. The Fifth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Sixth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner.

Posted on April 1, 2014 at 6:11 AM

Sixth Movie-Plot Threat Contest Winner

On April 1, I announced the Sixth Mostly-Annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest:

For this year’s contest, I want a cyberwar movie-plot threat. (For those who don’t know, a movie-plot threat is a scare story that would make a great movie plot, but is much too specific to build security policy around.) Not the Chinese attacking our power grid or shutting off 911 emergency services — people are already scaring our legislators with that sort of stuff. I want something good, something no one has thought of before.

On May 15, I announced the five semi-finalists. Voting continued through the end of the month, and the winner is Russell Thomas:

It’s November 2015 and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC) is underway in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Over the past year, ocean level rise has done permanent damage to critical infrastructure in Maldives, killing off tourism and sending the economy into freefall. The Small Island Developing States are demanding immediate relief from the Green Climate Fund, but action has been blocked. Conspiracy theories flourish. For months, the rhetoric between developed and developing countries has escalated to veiled and not-so-veiled threats. One person in elites of the Small Island Developing States sees an opportunity to force action.

He’s Sayyid Abdullah bin Yahya, an Indonesian engineer and construction magnate with interests in Bahrain, Bangladesh, and Maldives, all directly threatened by recent sea level rise. Bin Yahya’s firm installed industrial control systems on several flood control projects, including in the Maldives, but these projects are all stalled and unfinished for lack of financing. He also has a deep, abiding enmity against Holland and the Dutch people, rooted in the 1947 Rawagede massacre that killed his grandfather and father. Like many Muslims, he declared that he was personally insulted by Queen Beatrix’s gift to the people of Indonesia on the 50th anniversary of the massacre — a Friesian cow. “Very rude. That’s part of the Dutch soul, this rudeness”, he said at the time. Also like many Muslims, he became enraged and radicalized in 2005 when the Dutch newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of the Prophet.

Of all the EU nations, Holland is most vulnerable to rising sea levels. It has spent billions on extensive barriers and flood controls, including the massive Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier, designed and built in the 80s to protect against a 10,000-year storm surge. While it was only used 24 times between 1986 and 2010, in the last two years the gates have been closed 46 times.

As the UNCCC conference began in November 2015, the Oosterscheldekering was closed yet again to hold off the surge of an early winter storm. Even against low expectations, the first day’s meetings went very poorly. A radicalized and enraged delegation from the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) presented an ultimatum, leading to denunciations and walkouts. “What can they do — start a war?” asked the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment in an unguarded moment. There was talk of canceling the rest of the conference.

Overnight, there are a series of news stories in China, South America, and United States reporting malfunctions of dams that resulted in flash floods and death of tens or hundreds people in several cases. Web sites associated with the damns were all defaced with the text of the SIDS ultimatum. In the morning, all over Holland there were reports of malfunctions of control equipment associated with flood monitoring and control systems. The winter storm was peaking that day with an expected surge of 7 meters (22 feet), larger than the Great Flood of 1953. With the Oosterscheldekering working normally, this is no worry. But at 10:43am, the storm gates unexpectedly open.

Microsoft Word claims it’s 501 words, but I’m letting that go.

This is the first professional — a researcher — who has won the contest. Be sure to check out his blogs, and his paper at WEIS this year.

Congratulations, Russell Thomas. Your box of fabulous prizes will be on its way to you soon.

History: The First Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules and winner. The Second Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Third Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Fourth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules and winner. The Fifth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner.

Posted on July 5, 2013 at 12:08 PMView Comments

Sixth Annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest Semifinalists

On April 1, I announced the Sixth Annual Movie Plot Threat Contest:

I want a cyberwar movie-plot threat. (For those who don’t know, a movie-plot threat is a scare story that would make a great movie plot, but is much too specific to build security policy around.) Not the Chinese attacking our power grid or shutting off 911 emergency services — people are already scaring our legislators with that sort of stuff. I want something good, something no one has thought of before.

Submissions are in, and — apologies that this is a month late, but I completely forgot about it — here are the semifinalists.

  1. Crashing satellites, by Chris Battey.
  2. Attacking Dutch dams, by Russell Thomas.
  3. Attacking a drug dispensing system, by Dave.
  4. Attacking cars through their diagnostic ports, by RSaunders.
  5. Embedded kill switches in chips, by Shogun.

Cast your vote by number; voting closes at the end of the month.

Posted on June 14, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Sixth Movie-Plot Threat Contest

It’s back, after a two-year hiatus. Terrorism is boring; cyberwar is in. Cyberwar, and its kin: cyber Pearl Harbor, cyber 9/11, cyber Armageddon. (Or make up your own: a cyber Black Plague, cyber Ragnarok, cyber comet-hits-the-earth.) This is how we get budget and power for militaries. This is how we convince people to give up their freedoms and liberties. This is how we sell-sell-sell computer security products and services. Cyberwar is hot, and it’s super scary. And now, you can help!

For this year’s contest, I want a cyberwar movie-plot threat. (For those who don’t know, a movie-plot threat is a scare story that would make a great movie plot, but is much too specific to build security policy around.) Not the Chinese attacking our power grid or shutting off 911 emergency services — people are already scaring our legislators with that sort of stuff. I want something good, something no one has thought of before.

Entries are limited to 500 words, and should be posted in the comments. In a month, I’ll choose some semifinalists, and we can all vote and pick the winner.

Good luck.

History: The First Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules and winner. The Second Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Third Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Fourth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules and winner. The Fifth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner.

EDITED TO ADD (5/26): Semifinalists will be announced (and voting will begin) on June 15. My apologies for being late about this.

EDITED TO ADD (6/14): Voting is now open.

Posted on April 1, 2013 at 12:38 PM

High School Teacher Assigns Movie-Plot Threat Contest Problem

In Australia:

A high school teacher who assigned her class to plan a terrorist attack that would kill as many innocent people as possible had no intent to promote terrorism, the school principal said yesterday.

The Year-10 students at Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School were asked to pretend they were terrorists making a political statement by releasing a chemical or biological agent on “an unsuspecting Australian community”.

The task included choosing the best time to attack and explaining their choice of victims and what effects the attack would have on a human body.

“Your goal is to kill the MOST innocent civilians,” the assignment read.

Principal Terry Martino said he withdrew the assignment for the class on contemporary conflict and terrorism as soon as he heard of it. He said the teacher was “relatively inexperienced” and it was a “well-intentioned but misguided attempt to engage the students”.

Sounds like me:

It is in this spirit I announce the (possibly First) Movie-Plot Threat Contest. Entrants are invited to submit the most unlikely, yet still plausible, terrorist attack scenarios they can come up with.

Your goal: cause terror. Make the American people notice. Inflict lasting damage on the U.S. economy. Change the political landscape, or the culture. The more grandiose the goal, the better.

Assume an attacker profile on the order of 9/11: 20 to 30 unskilled people, and about $500,000 with which to buy skills, equipment, etc.

For the record, 1) I have no interest in promoting terrorism — I’m not even sure how I could promote terrorism without actually engaging in terrorism, 2) I’m pretty experienced, and 3) my movie-plot threat contests are not misguided. You can’t understand security defense without also understanding attack.

Australian police are claiming the assignment was illegal, so Australians who enter my movie-plot threat contests should think twice. Also anyone writing a thriller novel about terrorism, perhaps.

An AFP spokeswoman said it was an offence to collect or make documents preparing for or assisting a terrorist attack.

It was also illegal to be “reckless as to whether these documents may assist or prepare for a terrorist attack”.

Posted on August 31, 2010 at 6:42 AMView Comments

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.