Thursday, 24 September 2015

Pluto in colour

Just released colour image of Pluto...and you thought last week's image was incredible...

Friday, 21 August 2015


I'm pretty sure this is just hot water...

"Ceci n'est pas te."

Maybe we need a better semantics for what tea (and coffee) actually are... and not this kind of "treachery"!

Maybe it is homeopathic tea?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

On Being Privacy Risk Adverse

Being risk adverse in [IT] system development isn't always a bad idea - consider mainframe technologies which are constructed to avoid any kind of failure bringing the whole system down, or not using the latest, greatest JavaScript library for your mission-critical web development...

Risk management in privacy has come to the fore of late, especially the with publication of the NIST standard of risk management. So today's conversation about being risk adverse and how one assess risk in privacy was extremely interesting.

Consider this:

Collecting personal data (or PII) is a risky activity and therefore must be minimised as much as possible.

The definition of personal data is very weak, but it is always best to consider almost everything personal data in case it is cross-referenced with other data (which would make it personal data)


Don't collect anything. Ever.

While extreme, it shows how a misplaced understanding is many aspects, including what is risk and the nature of information (personal data) can lead to extreme situations and conclusions.

While NIST is absolutely correct in its assessment that we need proper risk management procedures, how these relate to requirements, information type and all of the other privacy ontological structure is as yet very, very weak.

In fact, terms such as personal data and PII do not come even close to being in any form usable for risk management - for this we need to go much deeper into the nature of information. For example, instead of "personal data" we could use classifications on information type and a mapping from different kinds of data (of these types) to risk metrics (note the plural). An overall risk value can then be more accurately calculated - or at least be calculated on the basic of what information we actually have.

You can read more about this approach to privacy engineering in the book: Privacy Engineering - a dataflow and ontological approach.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Google Blogger and EU Cookie Laws

This is very kind of Google...providing you with an automatically generated privacy notice to European customers as detailed on the Blogger settings page:

This to me highlights a few problems with privacy laws and compliance:
  • Firstly, you have to understand EU privacy laws
  • You have to understand how to write such a notice
  • You have to understand what systems such as Google Analytics etc actually collect and process.
  • You might have to provide an opt-out mechanism such as Google's Analytics Opt-Out.
For 99.999% of bloggers (+/- a few %age points), I strongly doubt that any of this is understood or even known about at all.

So while Google might come in for some criticism for its dominance in the information gathering domain, they at least try to make things easier for their customers.

Then there's the EU Cookie Consent Kit which guides you through at least one part of the consent notice maze.

As an exercise, write a simple work out what privacy notice you should display. Just to make it interesting, you are not allowed to have any contact with a privacy lawyer nor anyone who has a detailed knowledge about such things.

This quote by Einstein (often misattributed to Feynmann) sums up privacy laws and the average person writing a blog:

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother

Our privacy laws have become so complicated and often so misaligned with technology that they can not be easily understood by the average Internet user.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Internet Marketing (Humour)

People often ask privacy professionals how they lock down their PCs to prevent loss of their data, tracking etc, or whether they use Facebook, Twitter etc...well the truth is, privacy professionals tend to be quite selective on what they post, and in some cases, leave one or two browsers or PCs deliberately open for various reasons. One is to game advertisers, or maybe to examine what advertisers and marketers are actually doing.

One thing I have noticed is that certain retailers, for example Gigantti of Finland comes to mind, obviously pass my purchase details on to some marketer/advertiser. I don't ever remember being asked to opt-out of this, but, I do now get adverts for the things I've just bought. They could redirect their advertising budget and remove a few middle managers and save a pile of cash instead...

Then there's things like this:

I must admit I love these; I never click on them, but without such crap as this, the Internet would be a lot less let's start.

Top left...doctors are annoyed at a 53 yo mother because she's found a miracle cure to wrinkles. I'm actually more surprised that it isn't cosmetic companies who are annoyed - surely they're the ones who'll be put out of business. I think doctors (even cosmetic surgeons!) have much more important things to worry about. Then you have to ask, "Who is this woman?"  Surely if she's upset so many doctors and discovered a miracle cure for wrinkles why isn't she on magazines, TV or even Oprah?!

Top women don't want other diets, just a pill that is exceptionally powerful. I guess this is some kind of diet pill and again I'm sure dieting companies would be more than interested in this, but...On the other hand I'm not sure that most women want to go from being normal and healthy to a misproportioned anorexic.

Top right...same again, except a selfie-obsessed, European looking blonde (so it isn't just asian women who know about this) receives a malformed, badly photoshopped lower body by using some secret Asian fat burning trick...

Bottom left...SIPOO?!?! If there are millionaires in Sipoo with that kind of yacht then they're probably getting its wreckage salvaged from the islands in the archipelago after they've run aground. Monaco would have been better idea with that size of yacht and the climate better for all those trees and the swimming pool. Nice use of IP geo-location to personalise that advert to me; almost had me fooled for a moment.

Bottom middle...I have those vegetables in my fridge: broccoli and coriander...sorry, kale and cilantro. Another interesting medical claim and I'm left wondering how those vegetables target those specific areas of your body and how this hasn't been discovered before given that we humans do eat quite a variety of vegetables. I wonder what would happen if you would dilute these vegetables in a big vat of water, shake it, dilute it again, shake it and so on until only a trace of the memory of the vegetables is left?

Bottom right...this is easy for a privacy professional, the EU have already come to your rescue with the Right to be Forgotten. Though I guess if getting out of your Ferrari while posting for the waiting paparazzi is your thing, then the right to be forgotten is probably way down on your list of things to worry about. Unless of course there's that picture in Hello magazine of your looking frumpy and which cases I can recommend a miracle pill and two vegetables to help, and if there's any left over skin after the diet, there's a 53yo mother you can talk to; assuming you can get past the rioting throngs of doctors baying for her blood...

Marketing and advertising with a touch of personalisation, the Internet wouldn't be the same without it :-)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Privacy Mind Map

I found this in my archives, basically a mind map of thoughts I had on privacy as viewed in different contexts at that time. I won't write more for the moment, but I'll place the mind map here as it might be interesting, or even spark a discussion to two...

A Privacy Mind-Map

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Privacy Engineering Tutorial at TrustCom 2015

Privacy Engineering Tutorial
Held in Conjunction with TrustCom 2015 Helsinki, Finland

Friday 21, August 2015

10h05-11h50 – Session I

The Privacy Engineer’s Manifesto
Jonathan Fox, Michelle Dennedy, Intel/McAfee

“The Privacy Engineer's Manifesto: Getting from Policy to Code to QA to Value is the first book of its kind, offering industry-proven solutions that go beyond mere theory and adding lucid perspectives on the challenges and opportunities raised with the emerging "personal" information economy”

In this session you will learn the guiding principles of privacy engineering; how legal, management, business and process interact, and gain the foundational knowledge for implementation of a privacy engineering programme.

13h10-14h55 – Session II

Invited Talk: Software Engineering Aspects of Privacy
Antti Vähä-Sipiliä, F-Secure

Software security initiatives are becoming more common. We'll cover how privacy engineering can be supported by real-life security practices, and how a modern software development organisation can integrate privacy engineering in both requirements and delivery activities

In this session you will obtain a deep insight into how privacy engineering practices have been applied in a real-world scenario.

15h15-17h00 – Session III

Privacy Engineering
Ian Oliver, Nokia

To construct information systems from small mobile 'apps' to huge, heterogeneous, cloudified systems requires merging together skills from software engineering, legal, security and many other disciplines - including some outside of these fields! Only through properly modelling the system under development can we fully appreciate the complexity of where personal data and information flows; and more importantly, effectively communicate this.

In this session aspects of modeling systems and terminology/ontologies for privacy are presented. This will enable you to better understand, communication and reason about the privacy (and security) aspects of your systems. This session also presents how models of a system, requirements and risk analysis fit together. The session concludes with an overview of analysis techniques such as FMEA, RCA and process integration and auditing will also be presented.

Supporting Material

The tutorials draw upon the material presented in the following books:
  • Ian Oliver (2014). Privacy Engineering: A Dataflow and Ontological Approach. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 978-1497569713,
  • Michelle Dennedy, Jonathan Fox, Thomas Finneran (2014). The Privacy Engineer's Manifesto: Getting from Policy to Code to QA to Value. APress. 978-1430263555

Warning: Coffee Might Kill You

So, I found out recently that coffee might kill you. Seriously, it is a dangerous substance - almost as dangerous as a 110ml bottle of water is to your safety on an aircraft (but a 1 litre bottle of something alcoholic bought at duty free isn't) - and here's the proof (seen in a Starbucks in San Jose, CA):

Proposition 65 Warning Notice: "Coffee Might Kill You"

I'm not actually sure whether that has stopped anyone from buying coffee (or tea for that matter), ever. I suppose you could switch to that decaf muck, but you're probably going to die of something equally horrible then too.

I guess some lawyers and/or politicians need to cover their asses...

Monday, 20 July 2015

International Workshop on 5G Security - Programme

The 1st IEEE International Workshop on 5G Security held in conjunction with IEEE TrustCom-15

There is a fast on-going change in the technical architectures and topologies of the Internet: in the near future 5G and next generation 4G/LTE network architectures will be based on or migrated to Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). These create new virtual network elements each affecting the logic of the network operation, traffic management and introducing new and novel security challenges. Aspects such as security of orchestration, management functionality as well as surveillance and privacy are brought to the fore. At the same time they introduce new ways of dealing with attack prevention, management and recovery.

The one-day workshop will consist of papers, presentations and demonstrations on the subject of advanced network security. While primarily related to 5G networks, experiences from 4G/LTE, 3G and earlier, including case studies on practicalities of known attacks and novel attack vectors will be considered for acceptance. An invited keynote speech will be given setting out the overall area of security in network development and operations.

IW5GS Programme
TrustCom 2015 Helsinki, Finland
Friday 21, August 2015

10h05-11h50 – Session I
  • Ian Oliver, Silke Holtmanns, Workshop Opening
  • Günther Horn and Peter Schneider, Towards 5G Security
  • Siddharth Prakash Rao, Silke Holtmanns, Ian Oliver and Tuomas Aura. Unblocking stolen mobile devices using SS7-MAP vulnerabilities
  • Vikramajeet Khatri and Joerg Abendroth, Mobile Guard Demo - Network Based Malware Detection
13h10-14h55 – Session II
  • Ian Oliver, Aspects of 5G Security
  • Nicolae Paladi and Christian Gehrmann. Towards Secure SDN-based Multi-tenant Virtualized Networks
  • Elena Dubrova, Mats Näslund and Göran Selander. CRC-Based Message Authentication for 5G Mobile Technology
  • Prajwol Kumar Nakarmi, Oscar Ohlsson and Michael Liljenstam. An Air Interface Signaling Protection Function for Mobile Networks: GSM Experiments and Beyond
15h15-17h00 – Session III
  • Bengt Shalin, keynote talk
  • Mingjun Wang and Zheng Yan. Security in D2D Communications: A Review
  • Karl Norrman, Mats Näslund, Bengt Sahlin and Jari Arkko. A USIM compatible 5G AKA protocol with perfect forward secrecy
  • Silke Holtmanns,Ian Oliver, Workshop Closing

Friday, 17 July 2015

Privacy Engineering Book, 1 Year since publication

On the 18th of July, 2014 I published my first book: Privacy Engineering, a dataflow and ontological approach.

So, happy birthday to my book and the story of its writing can be found on this blog (here!). :-)

Since then I've been privileged to have invited talks at the IAPP's DP Intensive, IWPE 2015, various university lectures, an EIT SIG on Privacy, a semi-regular column on the IAPP's Privacy Tech blog and many other unexpected places - all to talk about the ideas in this book. Next up is a tutorial session at TrustCom 2015 in Helsinki in August with the authors of my "rival" book, The Privacy Engineer's Manifesto: Michelle Dennedy and Jonathan Fox of McAfee/Intel.

And it does feel good to call oneself "an author" one an air of gravitas...maybe I should start drinking absinthe and discuss philosophy while smoking a pipe?

So what's next? Well, a second book concentrating more on the modelling analysis should appear later this year - tentatively in December. Here's a preview of the cover:

Privacy Engineering is available on Amazon UKAmazon US (as well as where ever else Amazon has sites), Barnes and Noble, CDON (Finland) and CreateSpace itself

* * *

Privacy Engineering: A Data Flow and Ontological Approach by Ian Oliver, 18 July 2014 (CreateSpace Independent Publishing). ISBN-13: 978-1497569713 ISBN-10: 1497569710 264 Pages, B/W on White Paper

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


Finally :-)  Not a lot to say about this one except this fantastic picture from NASA:

Pluto (C)2015 NASA

How not to collect data

Would you give your personal details to someone without knowing what they're going to be used for? How about if I said, "give me your name, email address and post code" and I'll make you a member of our exclusive most-favoured customer club? But, I'm not going to hell you what the terms and conditions are, how I'll use the data or even who I am except by vague implication in the latter case?

How about if I wrote the above on a piece of paper and left it on an official looking stand in a shop...yes?

Seen in a shop in Finland:

The text says:

Join now as a favoured customer and you'll hear always as the first about our fantastic offers and wonderful happenings. 
If you want to join as our favoured customer just fill this form with the needed information and hand it to the staff and we will take care of the rest. 

I tried asking the store staff but they say it is a different company's problem and they have no idea of how the forms will be used. So far I've had no luck in contacting the company to which the forms probably belong...

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


Edward Tufte is well known for his work on textual and graphic presentations. His books, starting with The Visual Display of Quantitative Information are written with a very specific style, particularly in the way the pages are organised. Tufte uses wide margins which enforce the writing of side nodes.
For users of LaTeX there is a very good package called tufte-latex for emulating this style. I used this for the writing of the Privacy Engineering book [1], as an example page below shows:
Extract from book: Privacy Engineering -
showing the Tufte style of page layout

There is a Google group for the discussion of the tufte-latex package, but I'll reproduce here my experiences of using this package so maybe a wider audience gets to know about this and how they might too use this excellent LaTeX package.

Originally written 20 July 2014, tufte-latex Google Group

Just a few experiences on self-publishing and the Tufte-LaTeX style - I noticed a few questions and after going through this process successfully (yay!) I'll offer some thoughts here.

Firstly, I looked at a number of self-publishers, Lulu, CreateSpace etc. Of these CreateSpace gives the best options from book styles (colour, B/W, sizes), ISBN options, marketing etc. YMMV of course.

In the end I chose a 7x9 inch format for an academic text book, B/W printing on white paper. CreateSpace assigned the ISBN and deal with the purchasing and printing, plus the sales channels which are fairly extensive. The main problem is that you don't get an editor nor deadlines :-)   So spelling checking is going to be your responsibility. You also don't get an advance from the publisher either, so no Ferrari while you complete your masterpiece....

My set up is as follows:
  • Sublime and vi editors
  • Bibtex
  • Pdflatex
  • Microsoft Visio Professional
running on Windows, MacOSX, Linux as necessary. Whether you like Visio or not, it is the best diagramming tool. You might also need Gimp for cropping pictures.

Actually, running LaTeX with the Tufte style is no more difficult than anything else in LaTeX but there are a few considerations:

  1. Tufte gives ample room for side notes - great for references and additional comments, marginalia etc

  2. You can no longer say things like "as demonstrated in [34]" because the reference number appears as a superscript. This changes the style of sentence in that you must explain what you're talking about instead of relying on the reader referring to the reference.

  3. Diagrams:  be very careful with figure* and figure.  Most of the time  figure  is fine and try to keep the diagram within the margins of the main body of text. Sometimes it is necessary to use the full width, but sparingly IMHO

  4. Tables: I used the full width unless the table was particularly simple.  So  table*  for most.

  5. Labels: Didn't use as \ref{label name} doesn't give the section number. I suppose you could reference back to page, but (see #2) you can change your style of writing to make everything stand-alone. Actually I did refer back to figures and tables as necessary.

  6. Margins... I actually hacked tufts-common.def (see below)

  7. Tables again: see below for the Latex formatting not to use vertical lines - works well.

  8. Diagrams again: 300dpi minimum. I actually used 600dpi PNG files for inclusion in the text. If you export from PowerPoint this is going to be a big problem, but there are instructions to force PPT to export at 300dpi by adding things to the registry (fun!)

  9. Justified text for the body and sans serif sidenotes looks great!

I should have used \geometry but this was my method. I added between the A4paper and B5paper sections to tufte-common.def:

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% IAN 7.44 by 9.69 inches

Then later in the file (Search for a4paper and put it after there):

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%IANPAPER DEFINITION
%%%% 7.44in x 9.69in  == 18.898cm x 24.613 cm
%Another modification for 300 page manuscript on CreateSpace

You'll need to play with the margins to get CreateSpace's previewer to stop reporting errors regarding the sizes and gutter etc. But you HAVE to do this anyway to get the book published regardless of whether you using Word, LaTeX etc. Now you can use the above as a document style, ie:


When working with margins the showframe package is very, very helpful:



 You need to work with the p{size} options quite a bit to get these perfect...lots of LaTeX recompiling sorry. For example, the following extract gives an idea:

    \begin{tabular}{  p{2.2cm}  p{2.2cm}  p{4.2cm}  p{1.5cm}  p{2.9cm} }
 & \textbf{Adult} &  \textbf{Child} &  \textbf{System} &  \textbf{External} \\ \hline\hline
Collection & Allowed, with consent & As per COPPA, but generally not allowed & Allowed & As per agreements \\ \hline
   \caption[][0.5cm]{Example Policy Level Provenance Classification Requirements}

I found that a double line after the title and single horizontal lines elsewhere looks good IMHO

Citations, Sidenotes, Captions and Marginalia:

This is going to be the biggest headache!!!

Don't fiddle with the layout of these until you've reached your final, final draft. I noticed that various PDF views won't show text outside the margins so things seem to disappear only to reappear in CreateSpace's previewer which tells you about these things. Once the text is finalised then work with moving these elements up and down to make the fit within the vertical margins of the page. Much trial and error. Note that captions take 3 parameters, sidenotes just 2 ... this caught me a few times!

Also, sometimes text in \url{} or unsplittable text exceeds the horizontal margins...YMMV and you'll have to find a work around. Again for these aspects the showframe package is very helpful.

TOC, Indexes:

ToC depth should be 1 otherwise the ToC becomes too long, even though I used subsections, these don't appear in the ToC. The list of tables and figures doesn't follow the ToC style, but given the length of the latter in my case I'm pretty happy about this! This could be moved to the back matter if you want, depending upon what you're writing of course.

makeindex for some reason did not work - I could not get indexes to work at all... :-(   No idea why but in the end writing was more important than typesetting and indexes at that stage.

Font size:

I used \small with all the tables but didn't see a huge difference in font size. \tiny works, but that way too small. Otherwise things like \Huge etc work fine. Don't forget \normalsize after you've changed the font size temporarily :-)

So, overall Tufte-LaTeX is fairly easy to use with CreateSpace...thanks to all who gave help and worked on this style: it really does look fantastic in print! If you want to see the book you can go here:   and navigate to Amazon - I think there might be a preview available. However the conversion to Kindle is always a little problematical from what I've heard but then again not a lot you can do about that. Kindle doesn't like tables and sometimes the sidenotes get mixed in the text.

My preamble looks something like this:

Note I have two documentclass lines so I can swap between A4 for printing on rather obstinate HP laser printer and the 7x9 for the real version. Showframe is commented out here. A few other things I found on these groups such as the paragraph indentations etc. I changed the parskip here.
TOC depth I set to 1 otherwise the ToC becomes too long.





%package to get copyright symbol

% Paragraph indentation and separation for normal text

% Paragraph indentation and separation for marginal text





\title{Privacy Engineering} % Title of the book
\author[I. Oliver]{Ian Oliver} % Author



\tableofcontents \thispagestyle{empty}
\listoffigures \thispagestyle{empty}
\listoftables \thispagestyle{empty}


%lots of skipped chapters!!


* * *


[1] Ian Oliver. Privacy Engineering: a data flow and ontological approach. CreateSpace Independent Publishing.