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China launches second (and first homegrown) aircraft carrier

While it still requires outfitting, the new ship will be China's first fully combat-ready aircraft carrier.

The decade-long, $6M effort to put a 74-year-old WWII boat back...

eBay, vintage engineering, and a lot of elbow grease helped give Sudden Jerk new life.

There’s a big spike in Google searches related to World War...

Unusually popular search terms include "Reichstag fire" and "Kristallnacht."

Get ready for a JJ Abrams movie about Nazi monsters

Specifically, Overlord is about fighting supernatural Nazi monsters in World War II.

It's Hard to Notice We're Living in an Era of Constant...

NEWS ANALYSIS: The rules of traditional warfare don't apply in the world of cyber war, even to the point where it's hard to tell if the war has actually started or with whom you're fighting. PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The next world war may have already started, but the chances are that you may not have noticed it. That's because the new world of cyber warfare is taking place out of sight in places that only the initiated can see. Even then, it's not always clear who the participants are.Nor is the damage that regularly occurs in the war clearly visible and the only way you would see it is when the war spills over into networks you use. But the only thing you would notice is that your internet connection is running slower that normal.That was a major conclusion by a panel of experts at the Carnegie Colloquium here on Dec. 2. The topic at the Future of the Internet: Governance and Conflict conference was "cyber deterrence by denial and the vulnerabilities debate." Despite the lengthy title, the panelists were discussing the manner in which a cyber war might be conducted.The question the experts were dealing with was whether the idea of deterrence will actually work in the conduct of a cyber war as it did with preventing nuclear war in the years after World War II. The general consensus is that it does not, mainly because it's difficult if not impossible to hold a specific person or entity accountable for a cyber-attack. The reason that the analogy with the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) concept falls down is that cyber warfare doesn't lead to the type of destruction that nuclear weapons do, making it hard to convince an enemy that he has a lot to lose. "The only destruction is just a nuisance," explained Ariel Levite, now a nonresident senior fellow on the nuclear policy program for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "A bigger challenge is fake or distorted data," he said.Levite, who is the former head of the Bureau of International Security and Arms Control for the Israeli Ministry of Defense, said that there are a number of problems in dealing with a cyber war, among them, delineating what actually constitutes a cyber war."Can we delineate what activity we want to deter?" he asked. He then posed three more questions that must be answered before you can know there's a cyber war on. "Will you know when the attack occurs?" he said that it's frequently impossible to know the full nature of an attack, not to mention who carried it out. "Do you possess the means to retaliate?" he asked, and then he asked whether the attacker was vulnerable to retaliation.Then there's the issue of what any retaliation might accomplish. In the case of well-prepared adversary, you might not be able to inflict significant damage, meaning retaliation would not be effective.

Presidential Medal of Freedom awards go to top computer scientists

Enlarge / Margaret H. Hamilton received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama on Tuesday, November 22.White House reader comments 14 Share this story On Tuesday, President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to several luminaries in the arts, sports, and sciences. Of those, the class of 2016 included two women who played crucial roles in American computer science in the 20th century: Margaret H. Hamilton and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, who was given the award posthumously. Here’s how the White House described the pair: Margaret H. Hamilton led the team that created the on-board flight software for NASA's Apollo command modules and lunar modules.

A mathematician and computer scientist who started her own software company, Hamilton contributed to concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling and priority displays, and human-in-the-loop decision capability, which set the foundation for modern, ultra-reliable software design and engineering. … Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as “Amazing Grace” and “the first lady of software,” was at the forefront of computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s. Hopper’s work helped make coding languages more practical and accessible, and she created the first compiler, which translates source code from one language into another.
She taught mathematics as an associate professor at Vassar College before joining the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant (junior grade) during World War II, where she became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and began her lifelong leadership role in the field of computer science. Wired wrote a brief profile of Hamilton in October 2015, which noted that Hamilton took great pride in her code and made sure that it was in tip-top shape.
She told the magazine that she worried about flaws in her code and commented that she "was always imagining headlines in the newspapers, and they would point back to how it happened, and it would point back to me.” In September 2016, the United States Naval Academy announced that it would name its future cyber building after Hopper, who passed away in January 1992 at the age of 85.

Inside Eve: Online’s propaganda machine—from Photoshop to DDoS

reader comments 48 Share this story On June 30, 2016, a costly battle took place in Eve: Online.

An alliance of players calling themselves the Imperium—assisted by allies in the game's low security region—destroyed four Titan-class ships (the game's largest and most expensive) and inflicted damage worth half a trillion of the in-game currency (ISK) on their enemies in the Money Badger Coalition (MBC).

This battle was one of the largest since the so-called Bloodbath of B-R5RB in 2014, which resulted in losses of 11 trillion ISK—worth roughly $300,000 (£228,000) in real-world money.The Imperium’s recent assault on the MBC is hardly a left-field event; Eve players blast the hell out of each other on an almost daily basis.

But this battle was special; it took place just days after the MBC declared that it had won once and for all the game's latest large-scale war, with forum posts, fan sites, and Facebook feeds featuring links showing how the Imperium and its allies had been driven back across Eve's map of space.

The MBC was gleeful in its declaration of victory in the months-long struggle it had taken to calling "World War Bee;" it was over and MBC had won. "Our goal was to dismantle the CFC coalition [a looser collection of groups accounting for more than 40,000 players, including the Imperium]," says Killah Bee, a fleet commander in Pandemic Legion, which is part of the MBC. "We dismantled the coalition—the only thing left is the Imperium, the others have left—and we freed the north [territories].

That's what we set out to do." Enlarge / The Money Badger Coalition's logo. However, cast an eye at TheMittani.com, a major Eve fan news site, or even SomethingAwful.com, and a very different narrative emerges.

Both sites are supporters of the Imperium—whose ultimate leader runs the former—and by extension the Goonswarm, a coalition of factions the Imperium heads up.

To hear them tell it, World War Bee (a name they thoroughly resent) is far from over.
In fact, it's just getting started. "The war's not over at all," says the Mittani himself, Alex Gianturco. "All of [what you're hearing from the MBC], including the victory declaration, is what we predicted they'd do after only a couple of months—so we're right on schedule.

They've now commenced infighting in earnest. We, on the other hand, have been very aggressive in dropping Citadels [space stations] and assisting chunks of the MBC against each other.
I think our enemies would be unwilling to acknowledge this." This all sounds strange; conflict isn't supposed to be up for debate in a video game.
In most games, you're in no doubt as to whether you're under fire from your opponents.
So what gives? Why are two of Eve's biggest factions not only at odds with each other in the game, but in total disagreement as to whether they're even fighting in the first place? The answer lies in Eve's grand narrative and the dogged determination of players to own it. In Eve, as in the real world, the winners write the history books. Or blog posts, as the case may be. Spin a yarn Eve's story is written by its players. While nearly every other story-based game, including almost all other MMOs, has a plot that's based on the vision of its developer, Eve's lore relies not on what its developer CCP wants, but on the actions of its declining, but still sizeable player base.
In Eve, legendary characters aren't AI controlled—like, say, the iconic Garrosh Helllscream or Sylvanas Windrunner in World of Warcraft—they're real people. The reason for this is due to the game's structure. Eve is divided into three main regions: High Security (High-Sec), Low Security (Low-Sec) and No-Security (Null-Sec). High-Sec is the starting area, where players get to grips with Eve's mechanics in relative safety through one of the worst tutorials ever made in gaming.

The rewards for staying there are slender, but if anyone tries to grief a new player in this region, the AI shuts them down. Low-Sec is where players take off their water-wings; it's a little more of a free-for-all, but the game still provides some semblance of protection.
Footage from the Bloodbath of B-R5RB shows just how vast battles in Eve: Online can be. Null-Sec is the heart of Eve, and it's about as forgiving as the post-apocalyptic world presented in Mad Max. Here, Darwin's law applies; only those that band together survive, and lone wolves are quickly picked off. Players band together in factions, which in turn team up as coalitions, with the larger ones boasting tens of thousands of members. It's also in Null-Sec where the plot unfolds. Eve’s myriad coalitions battle one another for territory and resources using assets both in and outside of the game. Yes, gigantic dogfights take place, ambushes are set and triggered, and fleets move to contain chokepoints on the map.

But unlike other games, where conflicts are mostly confined to the game itself, the wars in Eve spill out in the real world: players make shady deals over chat channels, secrete sleeper cells within one another's ranks, and grief enemies on social media. The reason is that the stakes are always high in Eve. Unlike other MMOs—where death usually causes the player to respawn with all of their weapons, skills, and equipment intact—death in Eve can see assets that have taken hundreds of hours and piles of in-game money to accrue reduced to ash in the blink of an eye.

Damage is permanent: if your ship is blown up in Eve, it's gone for good. In an effort to control the narrative—particularly when things don't go in their favour—players flood forums, fan sites, and social media with disinformation and propaganda, making it impossible for outsiders to obtain a true picture of the state of play. Hop onto an Eve social media stream and you'll see World War II posters photoshopped to represent the views of either side of the war, lengthy propaganda videos on YouTube, and deep think-pieces. One op-ed the Mittani published during World War Bee even called into question whether IWantISK.com, an online "space casino" where players gamble using in-game cash to win modules, ships, implants, or even ISK payouts, was even legal under meatspace Florida law, the state where the site is based. Enlarge / An example of player-made propaganda from Eve: Online. Rixx Javix Enlarge Jason Kollat "It's not at Gamergate levels," says Gianturco. "You don't have people receiving, say, bomb threats.

Death threats have happened in Eve, but there's nothing that has ever reached the level of full-on harassment.
In general, the community looks at it all as good clean fun.

The metagame has always been there. People in the media will always look at platforms like Facebook or Pastebin as a sign of modernisation.

Back in the day the outside game interaction was confined to online forums." "CCP has a zero-tolerance policy for these things happening on their official forums, but it's so hard to police on other forums," says Peter Farrell, aka Elise Randolph, one of the high-ranking members of Pandemic Legion. "The Eve community is robust, and it is very hard to police. CCP has levied severe bans when harassment has taken place on out-of-game forums and the end-user license agreement is broad enough that they can take action on basically anything. Hopefully we'll never have to see them make use of this." And yet, despite what some players maintain, harassment levels in the game have now escalated far beyond a few crude photoshop jobs.

There have been instances where factions have launched DDoS attacks against the comms channels of their enemies just before a major battle, while key players have also been anonymously sent pictures of their homes by opponents as a form of intimidation. "As far as I'm aware, nobody in Eve has ever released the home address or anything of the sort," says Farrell. "However, outing a player's sexual preference, exposing real-world relationships and professions, and attempting to glean information based on posting on other non-Eve related forums and social media are some of the more prominent doxxing stories." According to Killah Bee, most of the metagame is instigated by individuals within each faction.
It's not something the fleet commanders on each side usually coordinate. "There are very small groups that do that kind of stuff.
It rarely happens and it hasn't happened in World War Bee," he says. So the poor old ostrich died for nothing Like all wars—both real and virtual—World War Bee wasn't triggered by a single event. While some have pointed to a failed Kickstarter which the Imperium organised to turn the history of The Fountain War (a major military victory in 2013) into a novel, others have pointed to a feud that the Space Monkey Alliance (SMA), a part of the Goonswarm, had been having with the owners of IWantISK.com as the cause. When the SMA/IWI conflict came to a head, one of the site's owners—who goes by the in-game name of Lenny Kravitz2—started bankrolling mercenary factions in Eve to go after SMA and its allies, and things started snowballing from there. The injection of in-game cash into what became the MBC caused thousands of players to sign up to the new coalition. Having been battered by the Goonswarm, a long-dominant and not entirely friendly force in the game, for years, lots of players wanted revenge, so it was easy for MBC to recruit. Killah Bee says that the involvement of Pandemic Legion gave the movement a boost.

The Imperium's enemies could finally see its throat exposed.
Eve: Online's news network The Scope discusses the fight in World War Bee earlier this year. "The players in Eve had been hesitating to go all in on the war," he says. "They didn't know if they could do it without Pandemic Legion.

As soon as we declared war and they knew this was for real, everybody [with a problem with the Goons] joined us." Faced with such an onslaught, the Goonswarm responded using Fabian strategy—the practice of avoiding pitched battle in order to frustrate enemies—by ceding territory and retreating without much of a fight. Not only did this have the effect of making the game more boring, which encouraged new players to leave, it allowed the Goonswarm to keep most of its fleet intact. On the downside, it was forced to abandon most of its territory and flee into Low-Sec. "They are completely abandoning the north and are moving down south with the rest of what's left of their coalition," says Killah Bee. "I never expected that to happen, not this fast, but with that happening, World War Bee is basically over." Not over 'til it's over Killah Bee's appraisal of the war isn't one Mittani shares. "After stating that they [Pandemic Legion] were out to destroy Goonswarm and that Goonswarm would never be allowed to field more than 200 people in a fleet, they left," he says. "They've moved their goalposts." Gianturco also points to Eve's most recent expansion, Citadel, which allows players to build gigantic space cities, as possibly providing the Imperium and its allies the means to return the territory they've lost without technically retaking it. Enlarge / A Citadel in Eve: Online. "Using citadels allows us to be more independent of the vicissitudes of the Sov System (the in-game method of claiming territory)," he says. "Citadels, when they're used in large numbers, allows us to—kind of how Zerg Creep [in Starcraft] works—build a carpet of these structures expanding outwards that do not show up on the in-game map at all." "In previous versions of Eve: Online, the Sov System required factions to scout and use recon.
In order to contest territory you needed to see where your enemy's assets were," he continues. "The current Sov System doesn't require this, so players have even more of an advantage when you’re defending.

Citadels don't play to this. You need to scout them out to see if they're vulnerable. We've been throwing down extremely large numbers of these citadels, which have inherent defences that we've used to vaporise a number of attackers. You won't see us advance until a system is filled with citadels." Is World War Bee over? The MBC seems to thinks so, but the Mittani is adamant it's not. "The goal here is the complete obliteration of our enemies," he says. "We're not going to just retake our empire; we're going to take revenge on anyone who participated in this war against us." A sincere threat or idle propaganda? In Eve, you can never be sure. This post originated on Ars Technica UK

Meet PocketBlock, the crypto engineering game for kids of all ages

Enlarge / The US Navy Bombe used during World War II to break Germany's Enigma encryption system.National Security Agency reader comments 12 Share this story When you're an applied cryptographer, teaching your preteen daughters what you do for a living isn't easy.

That's why Justin Troutman developed PocketBlock, a visual, gamified curriculum that makes cryptographic engineering fun. In its current form, PocketBlock is a series of board-like grids that allows players to transform plaintext messages into secret ciphertext and convert it back again, one move at a time.

By restricting the operations to little more than addition and subtraction performed by rearranging squares on a piece of paper, PocketBlock helps students understand the fundamentals of encryption without requiring a formal background in mathematics.

At the same time, it stays true to the principles of modern cryptography and goes well beyond the classical cryptographic concepts, like the Caesar cipher, reserved for the most kid-centric material on cryptography today. "The goal is for kids to feel like they've worked with something of substance, to an extent that intrigues them," Troutman, a trained cryptographer who is currently the project manager at the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told Ars. "[PocketBlock] introduces cryptography as everything from a pillar of the modern Web to the tradecraft of spies past.
It introduces the same cryptographic concepts that I work with as a cryptographer in industry—the same underpinnings you'll find in academic papers.
It reduces these concepts to easy-to-solve problems and uses a visual language to map what happens to bits as they travel through a cryptographic algorithm." Enlarge While suitable for kids eight and older, PocketBlock is by no means restricted to kids.

Troutman said it's also suitable for professional developers who want to deepen their understanding of the way cryptographic algorithms work, given that they're often implementing them.
So far, Troutman has used PocketBlock in four workshops: for kids of all ages at r00tz Asylum (Defcon 24), for middle school girls at a Hackers Girls Summer Camp sponsored by Facebook, for high school students at Cal Poly SLO's EPIC engineering summer camp, and for professional developers at Facebook's internal Hacktober event. The first entry in the PocketBlock series is called Pockenacci (pronounced POCK-uh-notch-ee), an authenticated encryption scheme that introduces the inner workings of a block cipher. Pockenacci includes a simple key schedule based on Fibonacci-style addition, which transforms a password into a cryptographic key; two P-boxes that permute, or shift, the location of characters inside the plaintext message; an S-box that substitutes one character for another; and a Message Authentication Code for verifying that an adversary hasn't tampered with an encrypted message while it was in transit. Adolescent Encryption Standard The next entry will be "aes," or the "adolescent encryption standard," a version of the Advanced Encryption Standard that has been simplified enough to be done by hand. While it has been scaled down, Troutman said it will retain the full structure of AES. In its current form, PocketBlock mostly resembles a crude board game, but Troutman said this is just the early curriculum-based stage. He has plans to expand PocketBlock to an interactive app for tablets with tangible components like physical, programmable blocks that work with the app for more of a hands-on experience.
In addition, Troutman is also planning to integrate a narrative interactive fiction environment in which players use their newfound crypto skills to complete missions.

The first installment of this narrative adventure will be titled "Mudspeak." "The goal of this narrative, interactive-fiction-esque component is to gamify things even more, by having players both build and break ciphers in order to level up," Troutman said. "They'll need to build ciphers in order to set up secure and private communication, break ciphers in order to read secret messages, and forge new ones.

Completing missions will depend heavily on keeping their secrets safe while learning the secrets of their opponents." The PocketBlock curriculum source is free and open source and available on the official PocketBlock repo on Github. Project updates and upcoming workshops can be found at the official PocketBlock website.

Why Star Trek’s Prime Directive could never be enforced

Enlarge / Kirk and Spock wear nifty outfits in order to contemplate the concept of the Prime Directive, which was first introduced in the episode "Return of the Archons."Paramount Star Trek 50th Anniversary Smithsonian Channel’s Building Star Trek is a cheesy but reverent tribute Why does the Star Trek franchise keep returning to its origins? View more storiesreader comments 55 Share this story Asking lawyers about Star Trek is a bit like asking bike mechanics what their favorite beer is.

Even if it’s not their area of professional expertise, they have lots of clear, well thought-out opinions on the subject. One day last month, I put out a quick call for Trek-minded attorneys, and they flooded in. Within minutes, this actual e-mail message landed in my inbox. Sir: I suddenly had five people e-mailing me saying I had to chat with you! I aver that I am a lawyer who defines himself first and foremost as a Starfleet officer. May I help? CWWChristian W. WaughWaugh Law, P.A. Sent from my Starfleet Communicator I should add that this guy goes by the handle @AdmiralWaugh on Twitter.
I knew I had hit on something great. As a Trek fan—I'm a child of the 1980s, TNG was my first foray into the universe—and someone who reports frequently about legal issues, I wanted to honor the 50th anniversary of the series with a look at the legal issues at play across Star Trek. Sure, entire books have already been written on this subject, but this was boldly going into terra nullis for yours truly. From copyright to civil law After reviewing various episodes (research, I swear!), I was reminded of how many Picard-as-counsel episodes there are.

Court-style procedurals are no rarity across the various series and movies. According to a recent panel discussion at Comic Con (SDCC) entitled "Star Trek: Where Lawyers Boldly Go," there are a number of landmark legal-themed episodes ranging from TOS "Court Martial," to TNG’s "Measure of a Man," to DS9’s "Tribunal," to Enterprise’s "Judgment." This panel, I should add, included various legal luminaries such as California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, and former US Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal, now a vice president and lawyer for Facebook. Enlarge / Some legal issues raised in Star Trek have direct relevance to today. Joshua Gillilan The point is there are many legal roads to go down in the Star Trek universe, and some even have direct parallels to our own time.

The ongoing case of Naruto v.
Slater
(currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) involves the question of whether a non-human (in this case, a macaque) can hold copyright of a photograph. Nearly this exact same question is explored in Voyager’s "Author, Author," where the Doctor, a holographic medical program, tries to assert intellectual property rights over a holonovel. In the Star Trek universe, of course, the most important "law" is more of an overarching policy and social norm.
It's called the Prime Directive, and interpreting its meaning is one of the major preoccupations of show characters and fans alike.

As one of the organizers of that SDCC panel, Joshua Gilliland pointed out to me during a conversation over coffee, that in itself is quite true to life. "What is law but a civil contract as to how we’re going to behave?" Bending the rules In canonical Trek, the Prime Directive is never explicitly stated in its full, legalistic glory.
Introduced as a concept in the 21st episode of TOS, "Return of the Archons," it is a commandment of the highest moral authority to not interfere in the natural cultural and scientific development of a civilization, particularly those that are pre-warp.

That's a pretty difficult rule to follow, given how hard it is to define a concept like "natural cultural and scientific development," let alone loaded terms like "civilization" and "interfere." So this was the precise question that I put forward to the best human legal minds I could find: Could the Prime Directive actually work as a law? How should we, in 2016, think about United Nations law or whatever our existing equivalent is, as being precursors to an interstellar directive (should we even think of it as a law? Or merely a guidepost?) to the Prime Directive? Here on early 21st-century Earth, the Prime Directive is probably most similar to something like the Law of the Sea—a "law" that nearly every country on Earth follows—establishing rights and norms for the usage of the world’s oceans and waterways. (Interestingly, while the United States essentially accepts the Law of the Sea, it has not formally ratified it.) "The Prime Directive is a lot like international law in that it is often not enforced depending on who breaks it," Greg Della Posta, a tenancy lawyer in Buffalo, New York, e-mailed Ars. "Famous captains, or ones in important circumstances, are usually forgiven, much like large nations generally don't face consequences from international courts for breaking treaties." In short, if international law doesn’t always work all that well now in the 21st century, is there any hope that an interstellar law could work in the future? Many officers of the court seemed to dismiss the idea of a truly universal law binding the members of the planet, much less something approaching the United Federation of Planets. "The concern probably is not military takeover, but communication that violates the Prime Directive, because that doesn’t require unrealistic interstellar travel," Scott Moss, a law professor at the University of Colorado, wrote. He wondered what would happen if interplanetary communications began before Earth united under one government. "What if a highly religious regime like Iran sees a need to spread a religious message to other planets by giving a less advanced civilization the communications technology necessary to share (or impose) theological views?" Moss wondered. Moss continued his thought experiment: And when the threat is interstellar communication, which is much lower cost than interstellar travel, what stops rogue tycoons from freely communicating whatever idiosyncratic messages strike their fancy? A nation can, of course, criminalize dangerous activity, but (a) such a ban would, in the United States, require the government to prove actual harm in order to restrict speech, and I can’t wait for the First Amendment case about Donald Trump, Jr., violating the American Prime Directive by communicating his family’s greatness across the stars, and (b) a rogue tycoon in a country not imposing a Prime Directive would seem to have free rein. Looking back to the 17th century Given how difficult it would be to control rogue nations from violating something like the Prime Directive, it might be truly impossible to rein in private companies. "I think it's more likely that future interstellar craft will say ‘Musk Enterprises’ ‘Virgin Galactic’ or ‘Putin Enterprises’ on the hull," Marc Randazza, a well-known First Amendment lawyer based in Las Vegas, e-mailed. "So let's say a private enterprise sends its spacecraft off to conduct a mining mission or an exploration mission, one might think that Earth-based governments would say that they have jurisdiction over their citizens who engage in interstellar or interplanetary or intergalactic exploration and commerce.

Think of the Dutch East India Company, or other enterprises that sent people off from Europe to colonize other areas.

They were still ostensibly under there on the flag and could be punished for violations of the law of their land once they returned.

But what jurisdiction was there out there really?" Companies and nation-states might sign agreements not to violate the Prime Directive, but Randazza argued it would lack an enforcement mechanism. "Unfortunately, I think the only existing force strong enough to get us out there is greed and capitalism," he said. "But once those forces land somewhere, it's already fucked.
I think if you want to look forward into the future to see what the exploration and exploitation of space is going to look like, you shouldn't be looking at Star Trek.
I mean if you want to dream and aspire, that's definitely the place to look.

But if you want reality, take a look at Africa in the 1800s coupled with Blade Runner—and that is me being optimistic." Live long and prosper Other lawyers explained Star Trek's legal system as a reflection of the era when the series was conceived. Recall that this was a time of great post-war optimism and 1960s grooviness. Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, was a World War II Army fighter jet pilot from the age of 21 to 28. Roddenberry went on to become a cop with the Los Angeles Police Department.
It was only after years in the law-and-order professions that he switched careers to write his first TV show, The Lieutenant. Airing in 1963, the show featured many as-yet-unknown actors, including Leonard Nimoy. "[Roddenberry] lived in a Cold War environment where any and every developing nation was valued almost exclusively as a pawn in the conflict between capitalism and communism," Ashley Meyers, a personal injury lawyer in California, e-mailed. "This background makes the centerpiece philosophy of the show unsurprising.

For someone who experienced both the horrors of war first-hand and who saw the damaging impact of the First World’s ‘benevolent’ interference in the Third World, the Prime Directive makes perfect sense." In the context of the series, the Prime Directive is violated (or perhaps "bent") in arguably justifiable scenarios. Meyers cited TOS’ "A Private Little War," where Kirk returns to a planet that he last knew as an Eden-like paradise. However, upon his return, he finds that the Klingons are disrupting the balance of power by providing the "Villagers" with flintlock long guns, and they are attacking the "Hill People." Kirk decides that the way to restore this power is to similarly provide firearms to the Hill People. "Some sort of corrective measures would have to be the first step toward any meaningful attempt to model international law after the Prime Directive," Meyers concluded. "Realistically, an objective committee could act like a jury and evaluate what would be necessary for every ‘pre-warp’ nation on Earth to be made whole. What would restitution for colonialism, Cold War proxy wars, and modern interference look like? Restitution damages are never easy to calculate but it can be done." Inga Fyodorova, a corporate lawyer with Steiner Leisure, agreed.
She told Ars that while "humans find great challenge in non-interference," she remains an optimist. "Given the current state of our international relations, I find it unlikely that we would succeed, but the Trekkie idealist in me wants to believe that we as humans have the capacity to tap into some inherent non-judging, cooperative spirit and hug it out as a planet," she wrote. "Consequently, we would live long and prosper."

Folder Lock

By now it should be clear that encryption isn't just for security geeks and IT administrators. You can take precautions to secure your own most sensitive files and folders by encrypting them.
Some encryption utilities turn files and folders into encoded versions of themselves. Others create secure storage locations that act like standard drives or folders but can be locked, encrypting all of their contents.
Still others maintain encrypted storage in the cloud. Most encryption utilities stick to just one of these functions.

Folder Lock does all three things, and more, balancing ease of use with a wide range of features. As with most competing products, your $39.95 purchase entitles you to use Folder Lock 7.6 (the version I tested) indefinitely. You don't have to buy right away; you can run the program 25 times before it demands payment. You also get free access to all updates until the next major point update. When version 8 comes out, you can either pay an update fee or just keep using the current version. What Is Encryption?The Nazi government used a device called the Enigma Machine to encrypt sensitive military communications before and during World War II. With its rows of buttons and actuator wheels, the device looked quite impressive. However, not only did the Allied forces crack the code, they managed to keep that fact from the enemy, so the Nazi generals kept sharing their strategies using the faulty encryption system.

The resulting intelligence served the Allied forces well. Cryptographic algorithms used today have a certain connection to the old Enigma Machine, but of course they're totally code-based, with no steampunk buttons or wheels. Unless you have the password, there's no way to decrypt an encrypted document. No, you can't just try every possible password, not unless you're willing to wait for the heat death of the universe. In 2001, the US government settled on Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). as its official algorithm, replacing the less-secure Data Encryption Standard. With even more bits in its main security key, Bruce Schneier's Blowfish algorithm should be still more secure. You're probably familiar with symmetric encryption algorithms, where the same key encrypts and decrypts a file.

AES, Blowfish, and many other common algorithms are symmetric. With this kind of algorithm, you must keep the password a deep, dark secret, and only share it via secure channels.

But there's another way.
In a Public Key Infrastructure system, you get two keys, one public and one private.
If I want to send you a file, I look up your public key and use it for encryption; you decrypt it with your private key. Public key cryptography is less common in small-scale encryption utilities. Getting Started With Folder LockInstallation of the product is quick and simple When you do pay up, you'll receive a serial number and a registration key. Keep that serial number stored in a safe place.
If you forget your master password, you can unlock the program by entering that serial number. If that last statement worries you, congratulations—you've caught on to something.

All of the encryption products I've reviewed recently have no backdoor, no way for the company to decrypt your files.

But since the company clearly has your Folder Lock serial number, it could conceivably be ordered to supply it to law enforcement. You can disable this feature in settings, and I strongly suggest that you do so. Like AxCrypt Premium, Folder Lock relies on a master password. Once you've logged in with the master password, you're free to lock and unlock files, folders, and drives without having to enter it again. Of course this should be a strong, memorable password, something that you can remember but that nobody else would guess. There is an Auto Protection option, disabled by default.
If you turn this feature on, it shuts down the program after 10 minutes of inactivity. You can set the timeout from one to 100 minutes, and you can configure it to log out of Windows, or shut down Windows, rather than just shut down the program. If you're concerned someone might try to break into your Folder Lock installation, you can enable Hack Security.

At its default settings, this feature shuts down Folder Lock after three incorrect login attempts.
If you frequently fumble-finger your password, you may want to set a higher number. You can also configure it to log out of your Windows account or even shut down Windows altogether after a number of failed attempts. Locking and UnlockingSo, what does it mean to lock a file or folder? A locked file is not encrypted.
Instead, Folder Lock uses a technique called kernel level filtering to hide the locked file from Windows, and from all programs running under Windows.
If that sounds a bit like the way a rootkit hides its components from Windows, well, it is quite similar, but working for good, not evil. Locked files are protected from casual snooping, which may be all you need. To lock a file or folder, you just drop it on Folder Lock.
It appears inside Folder Lock and vanishes from Windows Explorer.

The locking process happens in a flash, faster than encryption. You can also use a menu within the program to lock files, folders, and drives. Of course, you can't lock the Windows drive. The Lock Folders page in the program's main window lists all of your locked items, with a green padlock next to each.
If you're done locking one or more items, you select them and click the button Unlock Items, or right-click and choose Remove. When you do so, the item vanishes from Folder Lock and reappears in Windows Explorer. It's more likely that you'll simply want to access a locked item while keeping it secure.

Clicking Protection Off leaves the item inside Folder Lock, with a red open padlock icon replacing the green locked padlock.

The item reappears in Windows Explorer so you can access it. You can configure Folder Lock so that when it shuts down, it turns protection back on automatically.
In use, it feels somewhat similar to AxCrypt's Secured Folders feature. Folder Lock doesn't just hide files and folders.
It can actually hide itself as well. Just engage Stealth Mode and anybody snooping around your computer won't see a trace of it.

To bring it out of hiding, you press the hotkey combination that you selected when invoking Stealth Mode.
Security experts turn up their noses at security through obscurity, but this feature really can help fend off casual snoops. Encrypted LockersLocking items makes them invisible, but a determined hacker with physical access to the computer could conceivably still get at the data, perhaps by booting to a non-Windows environment.

For serious file protection, you need to create one or more encrypted lockers.

These correspond to vaults in InterCrypto CryptoExpert 8 and to encrypted volumes in Cypherix PE. You start by naming your locker and accepting (or changing) the location for the file that holds the locker's data. Next you set a password to protect the locker's contents. Like InterCrypto Advanced Encryption Package 2016, Folder Lock includes a virtual keyboard to eliminate any possibility of password capture by a keylogger.
It rates password strength as you type, but unlike AxCrypt it's pretty forgiving.
It accepted "Password1" as strong password. Next you must choose whether to create a backup-able FAT32 locker, accepting the limitation that no file larger than 4GB can be stored, or go for the no-limits NTFS format. You also set a maximum size.

The initial size on disk is much smaller, growing as needed up to that maximum.

Folder Lock takes care of formatting the drive, whichever file system you use.

Cypherix PE, by contrast, relies on Windows to format NTFS virtual drives. By default, Folder Lock assigns drive letters starting with Z: and works down from there. When you open a locker, you can choose a specific drive letter, and optionally open the locker in read-only mode.
I did not, however, find a way to permanently assign a specific drive letter to a locker, the way Cypherix and CryptoExpert permit.
If you try to close a locker that contains open files, the program warns you to close those files first. Folder lock uses government-standard AES 256-bit encryption, and it claims to have the fastest AES algorithm around.

That should be fine for most users. Yes, Advanced Encryption Package offers a choice of 17 different algorithms, and Ranquel Technologies CryptoForge lets you apply any or all of its four algorithms simultaneously, but most users don't have the crypto-expertise to pick an algorithm. Shred FilesThere's no point in copying an encrypted file into secure storage if you leave the plaintext original lying around.
In addition, just deleting the file isn't sufficient to wipe out its data.

Forensic recovery software can often get back deleted files in their entirety.

Folder Lock's file shredder securely deletes files so they can't be recovered. The Shred Files page gives the appearance of a drag-drop target, but it isn't. You must browse and select items to shred.

Folder Lock also lacks the context menu integration found in Cypherix SecureIT, Ranquel Technologies CryptoForge, and others. By default, Folder Lock simply overwrites the file or folder with zeroes. You can set it to overwrite with random bytes instead.
If you're willing to have the shredder run a bit slower in order to more thoroughly erase the data, you can choose the three-pass Department of Defense algorithm, or the 35-pass Gutmann algorithm.

But unless you anticipate law enforcement spending huge amounts of time and effort to recover your sinister deleted files, the single pass with zeroes or random numbers is probably sufficient.
If shredding algorithms fascinate you, check out the 18 distinct algorithms in InterCrypto Advanced Encryption Package 2016, most of which are government sanctioned. By default, Folder Lock won't shred any lockers, locked files, or wallets (more about wallets in a bit).

That makes sense to me.

But if you think otherwise, you can turn off this precautionary setting. Here's a handy feature; Folder Lock includes the ability to overwrite all the free space on your drives.

Doing so effectively applies secure deletion to all the files you've deleted previously.

Be warned, this can take a very long time, especially if you select one of the multi-pass shredding algorithms. Secure BackupCertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box stores your encrypted files directly to multiple encrypted cloud servers, ensuring security by splitting up parts of the file to different servers.

Folder Lock doesn't do that, but it offers secure backup for your encrypted lockers. The secure backup component requires a subscription, separate from the price of Folder Lock. Rates range from $5 per month for 10GB, through $30 per month for 100GB, all the way up to $400 per month for 2TB.

A free one-month trial is available for plans up to 100GB. Once you've logged in to your secure backup account, you can configure automatic backup for any locker that you defined as backup-able during its creation.

The already-encrypted locker data is transmitted via a secure SSL connection. You can optionally choose to sync a locker between multiple PCs that have Folder Lock installed. USB and Email ProtectionCypherix SecureIT and Advanced Encryption Package can turn encrypted files into self-decrypting executables, files that don't require the program itself for decryption.
In an interesting twist, Folder Lock lets you make entire lockers into self-decrypting files that you can store on USB drives or even on DVDs. You can either make a self-decrypting copy of an existing locker or create a new locker directly on the removable drive. From the USB Protection page, you can also encrypt files to send as email attachments.

Folder Lock creates an encrypted ZIP file with the name, location, and password of your choice.
It then launches your email client to send that ZIP file as an attachment. What's in Your Wallet?Sometimes the information you want to store securely isn't in the form of a file. You could create a file containing, say, the details that define your bank account and then encrypt it.

But it's easier to just put that data in a wallet. Creating a new wallet is simple.

All you do is indicate the name and location for the file that represents the wallet and enter a password.

As with locker creation, Folder Lock rates password strength as you type. Now you can put virtual cards in the wallet.

First, you name the card and select a type: bank account, business card, business info, credit card, general purpose, health and hygiene, ID card, license, and passport.

The next screen contains data fields relevant to the type you chose. Like the secure online password storage offered by AxCrypt, this is strictly a static data dump.
If you want to make use of the stored information, say, to fill a Web form, you'll have to copy and paste. You can, if you wish, create multiple wallets for different purposes. History CleanerThe point of encrypting your data is to ensure it can't be accessed by anyone but you. However, in the process of editing documents, visiting websites, and so on, you create a trail of evidence.

Temporary files, browsing history, cached webpages, all of these have the potential to compromise your security.

Folder Lock's Clean History feature aims to help by wiping out at least some of these traces. It wipes out Windows temporary files, clears the clipboard, and deletes the system's memory of what folder you last used when opening or saving files.
It clears recently used file history from Media Player, WordPad, and the Paint app.

And it clears a number of Windows recently used file lists. This isn't remotely the full system cleanup you get from a purpose-built tune-up utility.
It doesn't wipe browser traces, or recently used lists from third-party utilities. On the plus side, it runs in an instant. A Well-Balanced UtilityFolder Lock packs a ton of useful encryption-related features into a bright and cheerful package that's easy to navigate. While not as technically deep, it actually offers more encryption options than InterCrypto Advanced Encryption Package, which suffers from an awkward, dated interface.
Its interface is modern, like that of AxCrypt, but its range of encryption styles is greater than AxCrypt's. This fine balance between ease of use and breadth of features earns Folder Lock our Editors' Choice award for encryption.
It shares that honor with two quite different products, AxCrypt Premium and CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box. Back to top PCMag may earn affiliate commissions from the shopping links included on this page.

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Profiles in cryptographic courage

I recently finished reading "Hedy’s Folly" by the scholar Richard Rhodes.
In it he discusses the “most beautiful woman in the world,” 1930s and ‘40s superstar Hedy Lamarr. With her composer friend George Antheil, she invented frequency hopping. Frequency hopping (or spread spectrum) is a technology that underlies the communication transport and security of almost every wireless device we value today, including GPS, cellphones, Bluetooth, satellites, and home wireless networks. I’ve been telling the story of amateur inventor Lamarr in my security and crypto classes as long as I’ve been teaching.
It’s a great story of a nonscientist making a discovery that changes society forever.
Stories of amateurs solving the world’s hardest problems abound in the computer security and crypto world. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the myths (like the janitor who supposedly became a crypto supersleuth at the NSA) from the real stories, but there are plenty of “average” people who ended leaving a remarkable legacy. The Rosetta Stone One of my other favorite stories is about Jean-François Champollion, a French philosopher who ultimately solved the riddle of the Rosetta Stone and ultimately deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The Rosetta Stone is a stone tablet written in 196 BCE that contained three different languages of (nearly) the same text: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, ancient Greek, and Demotic script. The last two had been decoded, but no one could figure out the hieroglyphics.

Champollion, competing against the popular Egyptian historian Thomas Young, was able to figure out that the hieroglyphs were a combination of an alphabet and single characters that represent a word or phrase (called a logograph). Young repeatedly denigrated Champollion’s findings in public, even when presented with irrefutable proof otherwise.
It was many years later, after Champollion’s death, that other Egyptian experts realized Champollion was right.
I use this story to remind myself that even the popularly accepted experts can be wrong. Even today I see popular computer security experts who give bad advice on topics they don’t know much about.

They either feel they are experts or think their “gut feelings” are better than the evidence to the contrary.
I guess it’s hard to say, “I don’t know,” when someone begs you for advice or when the press asks you to be an “expert.” Public/private key crypto Public/private cryptography underlies almost every digital encryption and signature technology used across the internet.
In the 1970s, three men -- Whitfield Diffie, Martin Hellman, and Ralph Merkle -- together solved the centuries-old problem of how to securely transmit a private encryption key from one location to another, without both parties needing to know a secret at the outset. Diffie presented his idea for public/private key crypto to a group at IBM during a “lunch and learn” brown bag presentation.

Although a very smart MIT graduate, Diffie was not a trained cryptographer, so the IBMers discounted what he said and walked out. One of the people told him he sounded like another crazy guy called Martin Hellman (who had worked at IBM and taught at MIT). In point of fact, British cryptographer, Clifford Cocks officially “discovered” public/private key encryption in 1973, but his creation was top secret and not announced publicly until 1997.

Thus, Diffie, Hellman, and Merkle discovered it separately, and they're still given credit for the first public discovery and announcement. Diffie sought out Hellman and, after a little persuading, decided to try and crack the public/private key problem, while adding Merkle to do the math validity checks.

Diffie realized computers were not very efficient at calculating large prime numbers. Hence, the Diffie-Hellman public/private key cipher provides protection, because finding/factoring the original two large prime numbers used to create a third number is very difficult for even massive computers. Heroes of Bletchley Park A key figure in helping to decipher the World War II German Engima ciphers is Joan Clarke.

Although Clarke had a double-first degree in math from Cambridge University and been selected to work at Bletchley Park, she was assigned clerical duties and paid less than male code breakers. But her intelligence and attitude showed through, and she became a key code breaker and confidante of Alan Turing, who himself struggled after persecution for being gay.
I like this story -- it shows how our irrational discrimination only slows down technological progress. The mischievous raven Edgar Allen Poe was a mischievous amateur cryptographer.

Back at the turn of the 19th century, it was common for lovers and people having affairs to declare their love for each other -- and to schedule rendezvous in the newspaper using rudimentary cryptography (often simple character substitution). Poe would often decipher the lovers' messages, then write a humorous or admonishing reply.

Alternately, he would respond to one party or the other with a fake message using the same cipher. We should call this a “Poe in the middle” attack. There are hundreds of fascinating stories where ordinary people did extraordinary things and changed the world -- or at least added levity.
If you are interested in computer security or cryptography, I encourage you to buy and read a few crypto history books.

They’re much more fun to read than you might think. Who knows? Maybe a Kardashian will solve quantum crypto one day.