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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What would Robin Hood do?

I waited at Lincoln & Nevada... watched a bus plow through as the light changed - no harm, no foul but barreling pretty fast.

I went through and it seemed like a delightfully long time for us to have the green, which made me contemplate that somebody might have programmed the light to "punish" the N-S bound if somebody ran the light.

And that made me ponder that *that* is what Robin HOod would do if he were a 21st century hacker.

How many "smart" devices are out there?

How many of them could have their chips discreetly replaced with ones programmed just a little bit differently?

Not stuff that's going to have high security... don't even try the ATM's (no, I take that back... go for it!) Now... what could stuff be programmed to do? Hmmm... how about like, computer chips in cars?

You'd be surprised how many "little" things get messed with.

By the way, we call them "easter eggs"
Noah, people are too serious these days -- I haven't seen a good easter egg in ages. The online stuff like Flickr, sure, but not in embedded devices.

True story: I used to work for a small company in Champaign, IL (hence my interest in Sue's blog) that made terminal servers (basically). The US Navy bought a bunch and put them in submarines. Several years go by, then out of the blue the FBI visits one of the software engineers, D**** C**** and accuses him of being the evil h4x0rz who infiltrated TOP SECRET NAVY COMMUNICATION NETWORKS and put secret messages into these t3rm1n41_ s3rv3rz, with the h4x0rz bragging by putting his name into the message "YOU HAVE ENTERED THE NULL POINTER DEREFERENCE OF DOOM. ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE. D***** C*****."

It turns out that was the message that our firmware programmer ("D**** C****") put into the null pointer dereference exception handler, which spit the message out on one of the serial ports. Nobody had ever encountered the message before and nobody knew it was even there until the USN found it for us .
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