Daily Archives: Tuesday, 06-Nov-2001

Few things bother me more than open mail transports. These things can be used by spammers to relay their mail all over the place and they make it hard to really shut down the truely troublesome ones. This bothers me more. It’s an open mail relay on an FAA server. Try telnetting to port 25 of This is atos.faa.gov. I’ve managed to spoof email to myself and I’ve had a friend verify that he was also able to do the same. This isn’t something that I’ve found just recently. Declan McCullagh has subtantiated this and publicized the fact that it is open on his Politech mailing list. Still the hole is open.

Think through the ramifications of this for a moment. Spoofing an email message from someone is trivial. I’ve played with people in my office sending them email from Bill Clinton a number of times. The headers always gives away the fact that it is a spoofed message. However, if I should spoof an email message from a high ranking FAA official and send it through this open mail relay on an FAA machine, suddenly it appears in the headers to be legitimate. Maybe legitimate enough for a reporter getting the email to run with a rumor that I want started.

What to do, what to do? That’s a question any company has to ask themselves when their product attracts fans who want to make it better. Sony’s Aibo is just such a product. People just love these little robots and they have so much untapped potential. With a little cleverness one can make these pets do so much more than Sony can do with its tools alone.

Actually, I can understand Sony’s predicament. If they allow the hacks to go on they stand to lose control of their product and it won’t be long before someone decides they can build their own hardware and puts the plans for it on the Internet. On the other hand, though, by shutting down the hacking tools they stand to alienate the very people that their product appeals to and they’ve lost sales.

On the surface, Alan Dershowitz appears to be saying torture may be acceptable, but I think what he is really addressing is our need to reexamine our resolve to be a nation of laws. Personally,I don’t think anything should be above discussion or examination. When torture is being examined, though, it doesn’t take much examination for me to reject the use of it as a tool for interrogating suspects . . . regardless of the circumstances.