The KIT ─ Knowledge & Information Technology
No. 217 - 1 June 2018
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In This Issue
Highlights from AINA-18 and CCIP-18
Reader Feedback: Blockchain Vulnerabilities
Three Gartner Conferences
In the Next KIT
Seen Recently
Claude Baudoin

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Previous KIT Issues
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Ninth Anniversary Edition
The KIT is nine years old today. Happy birthday!
Highlights from AINA-18 and CCIP-18
Claude Baudoin presented his paper on "The Impact of Data Residency on Cloud Computing" at the International Workshop on Cloud Computing Project and Initiatives (CCPI-2018), held in conjunction with the IEEE's 32nd International Conference on Advanced Information Networking and Applications (AINA-18) in Cracow, Poland on May 17-18.

Some of the most popular topics at the AINA conference were autonomous vehicle control systems, communication protocols and resource allocation in mobile networks, and machine learning. The CCIP workshop focused on multi-cloud optimization and semi-automatic parallelization of applications (especially in the context of big data analytics).

While rich in content and quite selective (27% paper acceptance rate), the event exhibited some typical limitations of academic conferences: clusters of same-country research centers (Japan, Italy, China and Tunisia in this case) that work well together but not so much with others; limited presentation skills; and serious difficulties communicating in English.
Reader Feedback: Blockchain Vulnerabilities
Is blockchain technology absolutely safe? First, one might argue that we have never found a 100% attack-proof technology in the history of IT. But more specifically, a system based on majority vote by the custodians of copies of the chain runs the risk that a fake transaction can be recorded if more than half of the network can be subverted by the attacker (these are called "51% attacks"). While this is extremely unlikely in most applications, Bertrand du Castel pointed out, in response to the last KIT issue, that it has actually happened to Bitcoin.

"The problem stems from the fact that block creation must be widely distributed for the scheme to work. In the original blockchain, incentives for block creation fill the purpose of obtaining that wide distribution, which is followed by the voting procedure that validates blocks. If the distribution is not achieved, that's a point of attack," writes du Castel. "The initial blockchain idea (for bitcoins), which implied and required distributed, anonymous creation of tokens, morphed into that of distributed ledger technology (DLT), without that very component that made bitcoin possible," thus creating security risks that some DLT proponents ignore.

Before you panic and reject blockchain as a technology, remember several things:
  • Not every problem requires blockchain; other technologies may be suitable to establishing trust in transactions, depending on the exact requirements.
  • The attack was specifically on bitcoin mining; there would not have been the same financial incentive to attack a non-cryptocurrency blockchain.
  • Bitcoin is taking measures to decrease the possibility of commandeering enough servers to perform a 51% attack -- see the article at the above link.
Once again, as always in security, this is going to be a race between the good guys and the bad guys. Plus ça change...
Three Gartner Conferences
Gartner, the inevitable IT advisory services company, is holding three back-to-back conferences in National Harbor, Maryland (just outside of Washington, DC) in early June:
OMG members can get a $350 discount on the registration fee for each conference. Contact us for details.
In the Next KIT...
Claude Baudoin and two French colleagues are compiling notes on the VIVA Technology exhibit held in Paris on May 24-26, with a stellar roster of keynote speakers including French President Emmanuel Macron, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Eric Schmidt of Alphabet, Dara Khosrowshahi of Uber, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and many more. Once done, we will post in the KIT a link to the document.
Seen Recently...
"In conversation, you can get away with all kinds of vagueness and nonsense, often without realizing it. But there's something about putting your thoughts on paper that forces you to get down to specifics. That way, it's harder to deceive yourself-or anybody else."
-- Lee Iacocca, former Chrysler CEO, as reported in R. Neustadt and E. May's book
Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers (1986),
quoted in turn in Prof. Michael Roberto's book Know What You Don't Know:
How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen

"I propose running analytics on as many Marcel Duchamp works as I can find. I will call the project 'Big Dada'."
-- Steve Wilson ( @Steve_Lockstep on Twitter). Booo...