Here are a couple of items for the geeks among us:
The UCS has released Dave Lauchbaum’s analyses of data from three Fukushima Daiichi reactors. Dave was a boiling water reactor (BWR) operator, and also has taught BWR operators, so his analysis is both independent and informed. The news to me is that reactor 3’s core was probably close to being uncovered before the tsunami hit because of a lack of operation of emergency cooling systems, though the operators began operating the main emergency cooling system a couple of minutes before the tsunami hit. All the reports are interesting reading for a detailed analysis of the first critical hour of reactor shutdown.
Robert X Cringeley believes that SecurID has been compromised at an unnamed US defense contractor. SecurID is a little keyfob that generates a pseudorandom number every 30 seconds or so. It’s used for “two-factor authentication” which means that the user types in the number from the SecurID along with a password to get remote access to a computer system. SecurId was considered secure because even if someone knew your password, they’d need to have the physical SecurID to the “random” number.
In March, someone broke into SecurID’s manufacturer’s computer and probably stole some key materials. If Cringeley’s source is right, that stolen material was probably used to figure out the number a SecurID would be generating, so just knowing someone’s password was enough to breach a major defense contractor’s security. This is a big deal, because SecurID is widely deployed in defense, banking and other corporate environments.