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Weekend Reads 040618: Kernel Programming, Secure Messaging, and Icebergs

Programming in user space is safer for a very small number of reasons, not the least of which is the virtual memory system, which tricks programs into believing they have full control over system memory and catches a small number of common C-language programming errors, such as touching a piece of memory that the program has no right to touch. Other reasons include the tried-and-true programming APIs that operating systems have now provided to programs for the past 30 years. All of which means programmers can possibly catch more errors before their code ships, which is great news—old news, but great news. What building code in user space does not do is solve the age-old problems of isolation, composition, and efficiency. —George V. Neville-Neil @ACM

There is no such thing as a perfect or one-size-fits-all messaging app. For users, a messenger that is reasonable for one person could be dangerous for another. And for developers, there is no single correct way to balance security features, usability, and the countless other variables that go into making a high-quality, secure communications tool. @EFF

Breaches of private information in hospital records are serious and expensive security events but remediating them can be deadly. That’s the conclusion of a study presented last week at the 4A Security and Compliance Conference. The data shows that the type and scale of a breach don’t have an impact on patient outcomes but that breaches do have an effect, and it appears to come from the hospital’s response rather than the attack itself. The effect is serious: mortality rates go up significantly. —Curtis Franklin Jr. @Dark Reading

Financial organizations are no strangers to regulation, but when it comes to cybersecurity, new mandates keep cropping up, and for good reason. According to a study from Accenture and the Ponemon Institute, the global financial services sector has experienced a 40% increase in the cost of cyberattacks during the past three years. Cyber heists against a string of banks (such as $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh central bank and $6 million from the Russian bank) and high-profile data breaches of well-known global financial organizations have demonstrated that financial companies are top targets for cybercriminals. —Steven Grossman @Dark Reading

Let’s start with Facebook’s Surveillance Machine, by Zeynep Tufekci in last Monday’s New York Times. Among other things (all correct), Zeynep explains that “Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.” —Doc Searls

Crypto-backdoors for law enforcement is a reasonable position, but the side that argues for it adds things that are either outright lies or morally corrupt. Every year, the amount of digital evidence law enforcement has to solve crimes increases, yet they outrageously lie, claiming they are “going dark”, losing access to evidence. A weirder claim is that those who oppose crypto-backdoors are nonetheless ethically required to make them work. This is morally corrupt. @Errata Security

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