Craig Mattson (Personal Website)
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Zombie Macs Sighted!!! (21/04/2009 09:07:23 PM)

With the recent Macintosh trojan making headlines on Tech websites, there's definitely plenty of people arguing if Macintosh is really secure, is it as bad as Windows, could Linux get this type of trojan and whether pirated software is good / bad. At the core of the issue though is the Trojan itself. It's nothing overly complex, or technically penetrating any flaws in the Operating System itself. It is simply relying on permissions granted to the Trojan as part of an install process.

This is pretty common in the Windows world - and most of this stems from our good old underground software groups. You see, if you install an application and give it root access, then you're bound to have trouble. If I was hypothetically going to create a crack for an application and embed code to open a CD tray every 5 minutes, all I need is access to root to install a service.

Under Windows, this is automatically granted in Windows XP if you are the system administrator - not so in Vista if you have UAC enabled (you know, the annoying messages everyone turns off!). Under Mac, you log in as a root user to do so (or at least, grant the software administration rights as part of starting the installation). Is this a flaw? For the Apple Macintosh and the Setup Packaging suite, it very well could be - but no more than Windows and cabinet installs - where if you launch it, the operating system assumes on your approval that the software is fine.

MSN viruses seem like they target the operating system. Granted the Jpeg buffer overflow trick workedin older versions of Windows XP, but newer versions are all about exploiting software to trick the user into installing applications and granting permission through Social Engineering. What is stopping iChat receiving a trojan (if not already happening) that tricks the user into installing random "cool" updates.

With advertisements such as the Viruses campaign Apple released upon the rebranding of Apple Macintosh, it is no wonderthe botnet was successful. This is something Apple may need to address in the future is that while the core is secure, the core does not stop applications playing up - and with comments like "I can download anything I want without getting viruses" being fairly prevailent amongst "John Citizen's", this type of thing will continue happening on mass scale.

We'll see if the media picks up on the Macintosh trojan and milk it for what it's worth.

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GTA IV weighs twice as much as me!!! (05/04/2009 07:54:03 PM)

floppy_394When I am bored, sometimes I sit down and think of something to calculate. So today, I did just that - I got out GTA IV DVD's. Now lets face it, how I come up with things is even beyond me - today's comparison was how many Floppy Disks would it take to store GTA IV. So here's the result:

GTA IV DVD1: 7,553,034,240 bytes
GTA IV DVD2: 7,313,483,776 bytes
Floppy Disk (1.44MB): 1,474,560 bytes (remember, there is a file system overhead!)

If you wanted to factor in spanning using ZIP, then you would have to add header bytes and spanning into your equasion (header once, spanning * number of disks).

Total Size: 14,866,518,016 bytes
Total Disks: 10,082.003 (Technically, this would be 10,083 disks).

No where has the exact weight of a floppy disk, but it is acceptable that 10 Floppy Disks in a box weigh 200g, so minus the weight of the box (say 2.5 FDD's worth) = 150g / 10 = 15g.

Total Weight: 10,083 x 15g = 151.245 Kg

So... That's the equivalent to double my weight! Now to work out how long approximately it would take to install...

If a floppy disk has 80 tracks, latency is ~100ms, access/stroke time is ~900ms and track to track access time is ~140ms, it takes approximately 1.140s to read a full track (these values are experimental and are not intended to be accurate by ANY means!!!). So... 1.140s x 80 = 91.2 Seconds or 1.52 minutes. Add the time to change the floppy disk and to click OK, + 10 seconds.

Total Time: 1.62 x 10,082 = 16,332.84 minutes OR 272.21 hours OR 11.34 days.

This is not taking into account either a CRC error on some disk in the middle. So there you have it. All I can say is:

Thank God for DVD's.

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