Tag Archives: networks

Turing100 Lecture: Talk on the Life and work of Edsger Dijkstra

Persistent System presents a talk on the life and work of Turing Award Winner Edsger Dijkstra, on 22 March, 2pm to 5pm, at the Dewang Mehta Auditorium, Persistent, SB Road.

In 1972, Edsger Dijkstra was given the Turing Award for fundamental contributions to programming as a high, intellectual challenge; for eloquent insistence and practical demonstration that programs should be composed correctly, not just debugged into correctness; for illuminating perception of problems at the foundations of program design. Dijkstra is famous for his graph algorithms (shortest path, minimum spanning tree), for writing the first Algol-60 compiler, which was the first high level language with explicit recursion (which was implemented using stacks), structured programming, and a whole lot of important contributions to practical and theoretical computer science.

He is also the guy who killed the goto.

In this event, Ravindra Naik, Principal Scientist at TRDDC Pune, will touch upon some of the contributions of Dijkstra like – Design of Algorithms, Program Design, Programming Languages, Formal Specification & Verification and OS & Distributed Processing.

This will be followed by a talk on “Art and Science of Programming” by Shailaja Shirwaikar HOD, CS Nowrosjee Wadia College. The talk will present Dijkstra’s programming methodology. From writing short, readable and efficient programs to illustrating his point through the choice of apt examples, Dijkstra was an artist programmer. Structured programming, developing loop invariants to separation of Concerns, and Dijkstra’s emphasis on formalism in development of programs has eventually lead to the Science of programming. The formal approach of program development gives the programmer the confidence in the program developed by him and debugging would be unnecessary. Dijkstra believed in disciplined method of programming which is very relevant to the students of programming.

The event is free for everyone to attend. Register here

About the Turing Awards

The Turing awards, named after Alan Turing, given every year, are the highest achievement that a computer scientist can earn. And the contributions of each Turing award winner are then, arguably, the most important topics in computer science.

About Turing 100 @ Persistent Lecture Series

This is year 2 of the the Turing 100 @ Persistent lecture series. The series started in 2012 to celebrates the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth by having a monthly lecture series, and the success of the talk series in year 1 has resulted in the series being continued in 2013. Each lecture is be presented by an eminent personality from the computer science / technology community in India, and covers the work done by one Turing award winner.

The lecture series has featured, or will feature talks on Ted Codd (Relational Databases), Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn (Internet) Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (Unix), Jim Gray, Barbara Liskov, and others. Latest schedule is here

This is a lecture series that any one in the field of computer science must attend. These lectures will cover the fundamentals of computer science, and all of them are very relevant today.

All the slides and videos of all the talks in the last year are available here.

Fees and Registration

The event will be at Dewang Mehta Auditorium, Persistent Systems, SB Road, from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday 22 March.

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here

Turing100 Lecture: Talk on the Life and work of Andrew Chi-Chih Yao

In 2000, Andrew Chi-Chih Yao was given the Turing Award In recognition of his fundamental contributions to the theory of computation, including the complexity-based theory of pseudorandom number generation, cryptography, and communication complexity. For more details of his work, see the Turing Awards website

Jaikumar Radhakrishnan, of TIFR will talk about “Combinatorial Limits on Efficient Computation”, followed by Srikanth Srinivasan, Dept. of Mathematics, IIT Bombay, who will talk about “Yao’s complexity-based theory of pseudorandomness.”

The event is free for everyone to attend. Register here

About the Turing Awards

The Turing awards, named after Alan Turing, given every year, are the highest achievement that a computer scientist can earn. And the contributions of each Turing award winner are then, arguably, the most important topics in computer science.

About Turing 100 @ Persistent Lecture Series

This is year 2 of the the Turing 100 @ Persistent lecture series. The series started in 2012 to celebrates the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth by having a monthly lecture series, and the success of the talk series in year 1 has resulted in the series being continued in 2013. Each lecture is be presented by an eminent personality from the computer science / technology community in India, and covers the work done by one Turing award winner.

The lecture series has featured, or will feature talks on Ted Codd (Relational Databases), Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn (Internet) Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (Unix), Jim Gray, Barbara Liskov, and others. Latest schedule is here

This is a lecture series that any one in the field of computer science must attend. These lectures will cover the fundamentals of computer science, and all of them are very relevant today.

All the slides and videos of all the talks in the last year are available here.

Fees and Registration

The event will be at Dewang Mehta Auditorium, Persistent Systems, SB Road, from 2pm to 5pm on Saturday 25th January.

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here

Invisible Bugs or Why Every Developer Must Understand Details of IT Infrastructure

(This article is adapted from a very interesting post written by Sunil Uttamchandani, Co-founder and Director of Services at Mithi Software, a Pune-based Software Products company specializing in software for email, collaboration and other enterprise products. The article first appeared on the Mithi Blog and is adapted & reproduced here for the benefit of PuneTech readers with permission.)

Most of the education of a Software Developer is centered around programming, and keeping their code clean and maintainable and debuggable, and well-tested and ensuring that customers don’t run into bugs, and if they do, the bugs are easy to find. However, in real life, one of the most difficult category of bugs to find is the “invisible” bug. The first thing you notice about such a bug is that a customer complains about a bug, but you are unable to reproduce it in your environment. Now, if there is one thing you cannot convince a customer about, is that the bug is caused due to some misconfiguration of the software infrastructure in the customer environment. All bugs are bugs in your product, irrespective of what actually caused the bug.

In the Blog of Mithi Software, Sunil Uttamchandani talks about how their products (which deal with email servers and other enterprise collaboration software) often have to deal with “Intangible/Invisible Network Obstacles” when dealing with customer bugs.

Here he describes a recent experience.

A Ghost In the Network

Recently during a POS (proof on site) exercise with a prospective customer, we had to perform a test in which an email client would send mail to a large number of recipients from our cloud email setup and capture performance test results. As a regular practice, we setup the SMTP controls on our server to allow this test, did a test from our environment and then asked the client to repeat the same test in their environment.

The test failed in the client environment.

We enabled the SMTP scanning engines for their source IP to capture detailed information (which would slow down the mail flow naturally), and we found that the client could deliver a few mail, but would give up after a little while. It would simply show the progress bar, but would not move ahead. The logs on our server showed that there was no more connections coming from that client. As a first point of troubleshooting we eliminated the scanning controls and simplified the SMTP rules in our product to speed up things by making no checks for their source IP address. We did another round of testing, but we had similar results. Just a few more mails went through and the process hung again. During this phase, we couldn’t successfully send mail to all their recipients at all. After a few mails, the system would simply do nothing and client would eventually time out.

On the face of it, all looked well in the client’s environment, since the other users/programs in the client’s environment were going about their business with no issues.

Without assuming anything, we performed the test from our office to eliminate any issues on the server side. Once we did this successfully, we re-did the test from our environment, with the client’s data and that too went through successfully. All pointers were now to the client’s environment!

There obviously was some firewall policy, some proxy, or some other transparent firewall in the network which was disabling the test through the given Internet link. On our request, when the firewall policies were bypassed for connections to our servers, the test went through successfully.

This shows two things. Network administrators, and firewalls often interfere with the web connections in complicated, and difficult to debug ways. And, the job of determining the root cause of the problem always falls upon the product vendor.

More Examples of Real Life Network Problems

If you think this is an isolated problem, think again. Sunil goes on to point out a bunch of other cases where similar ghost bugs bothered them:

Several times, our help desk receives tickets for such “intangible” problems in the network which are difficult to troubleshoot since there is some element in the network, which is interfering in the normal flow. Clients find it difficult to accept these kind of issues since on the face of it all seems to be well. Some real life examples of such issues we face:

  • At one of our customer sites, address book on the clients’ machines suddenly stopped working. Clients connect to the Address book over the LDAP port 389. We found that while a telnet to the LDAP port was working fine from a random set of clients, still the address book was not able to access the server over port 389. It turned out to be a transparent firewall which had a rate control.
  • Several of our customers complain of duplicate mail. This typically happens when MS Outlook as a client sends a mail, but retains the mail in the Outbox when it doesn’t receive a proper acknowledgement from the server. It then resends the mail and may do so repeatedly until its transaction completes successfully. On the face of it, it appears to be a server issue, while actually its a network quality issue. Difficult to prove. I’ve personally spent hours on the phone trying to convince customers to clean up their networks. One of our customers, after a lot of convincing, did some hygiene work on their network and the problem “magically” vanished.
  • One of our customers complained that their remote outgoing mail queue was rising rapidly. We found that the capacity of Internet link’s (provided by the ISP) to relay mail had suddenly dropped. So mails were going, but very slowly, and hence the queues were rising. Apparently there had been no change in the network which could explain this. After some analysis, We were quite convinced that the ISP had probably an introduced an SMTP proxy in the network, which had some rate control or tar pit policies. The ISP refused to acknowledge this. To prove our hypothesis, we routed the mail from our hosted servers over a different port (not port 25 – which is default for SMTP). As soon as we did this, the mail flow became normal, even though we were sending through the same Internet link. As of the time of this writing, the ISP is still to acknowledge that there is an impediment in the path for port 25.

These and several more incidents show that problems in the network environment are challenging to troubleshoot and accept.

So What Next?

In other words, to be able to keep customers happy, software developers need to have a very good and detailed understanding of the various IT infrastructure environments in which their product is likely to be deployed, and be able to come up with inventive strategies by which to isolate which part of the infrastructure is actually causing the problem.

BSNL to provide managed network services in Pune

The Indian Express reports that Pune has yet again been chosen as a city to introduce a new hi-tech service: Managed Network Services from BSNL. The basic idea is that instead of simply providing broadband and other types of network access, BSNL will take over the entire job of handling the network of small companies. The hardware, software and maintenance will be handled by BSNL, and the company just has to pay the monthly rent (starting at Rs. 8000 p.m.)

BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal on Friday launched the Managed Network Services from Pune. Calling this service a ‘new chapter’ in the history of BSNL, Goyal said, “We chose Pune to run the project on a pilot basis, as we are sure of getting a good feedback here.”


“The assured service with fixed monthly charges and no capital expenditure investment will reduce the entry barrier to the customer and help in expanding our service. Initially, we are targeting 50 small and medium enterprises as our customers.” he added.

The integrated secured data service is actually a bundle of hardware, connectivity package and completely managed services, including the 24×7 proactive monitoring of customer network and remote configuration of troubleshooting.

See full article.

McAfee to Buy Data Protection Vendor Reconnex

Security vendor McAfee has just announced that it will data leakage prevention startup Reconnex.

McAfee expects to close the US$46 million cash acquisition by the end of September and will roll the products into its data protection business unit, where they will be sold under the McAfee Adaptive Protection brand name.

Source: McAfee to Buy Data Protection Vendor Reconnex – Yahoo! News

Reconnex has an engineering location in Pune. We had profiled it a few months back.

OpenID – Your masterkey to the net

The OpenID logoImage via Wikipedia

OpenID is a secure, customizable, user-controllable, and open mechanism to share personal information (username/password, credit card numbers, address) on the web. It will eliminate the need to enter the same information over and over again in different websites, or to remember different username/password combinations. It will be a major improvement over the current system once it gains widespread adoption. PuneTech asked Hemant Kulkarni of singleid.net to give us an introduction to OpenID, its benefits, and how it works.


In 2005, a new idea took hold and spread across the internet – OpenID. The concept is very simple – to provide users with a single unique login-password set with which they will be able to access all the different sites on the internet.

In June 2007 the OpenID Foundation was formed with the sole goal to protect OpenID. The original OpenID authentication protocol was developed by Brad Fitzpatrick, creator of popular community website LiveJournal, while working at Six Apart. The OpenID Foundation received a recent boost when the internet leaders Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Verisign became its corporate members.

Millions of users across the internet are already using OpenID and several thousand websites have become OpenID enabled.

Need for OpenID

The internet is fast becoming an immovable part of our everyday life. Many tasks such as booking tickets for movies, airlines, trains and buses, shopping for groceries, paying your electricity bills etc. can now be done online. Today, you can take care of all your mundane household chores at the click of a button.

When you shop online, you are usually required to use a login and a password to access these sites. This means that, as a user, you will have to maintain and remember several different login-password sets.

OpenID enables you to use just one login-password to access these different sites – making life simpler for you. With OpenID, there is no need to bother with remembering the several different logins and passwords that you may have on each different site.

Internet architecture inherently assumes that there are two key players in today’s internet world – end users who use the internet services and the websites which provide these services. It is a common misconception that OpenID-based login benefits only the end users. Of course it does. But it also has an equal value proposition for the websites that accept OpenID too.

Later, in a separate section, we will go into the details of the benefits to the websites that accept OpenID-based logins.

And before that, it is equally important to understand the few technological aspects and the various entities involved in the OpenID world.

What is OpenID

OpenID is a digital identity solution developed by the open source community. A lightweight method of identifying individuals, it uses the same framework for identifying websites. The OpenID Foundation was formed with the idea that it will act as a legal entity to manage the community and provide the infrastructure required to promote and support the use of OpenID.

In essence, an OpenID is a URL like http://yourname.SingleID.net which you can put into the login box of a website and sign in to a website. You are saved the trouble of filling in the online forms for your personal information, as the OpenID provider website shares that information with the website you are signing on to.


As of July 2007, data shows that there are over 120 million OpenIDs on the Internet and about 10,000 sites have integrated OpenID consumer support. A few examples of OpenID promoted by different organizations are given below:

  • America Online provides OpenIDs in the form “openid.aol.com/screenname”.
  • Orange offeres OpenIDs to their 40 million broadband subscribers.
  • VeriSign offers a secure OpenID service, which they call “Personal Identity Provider”.
  • Six Apart blogging, which hosts LiveJournal and Vox, support OpenID – Vox as a provider and LiveJournal as both a provider and a relying party.
  • Springnote uses OpenID as the only sign in method, requiring the user to have an OpenID when signing up.
  • WordPress.com provides OpenID.
  • Other services accepting OpenID as an alternative to registration include Wikitravel, photo sharing host Zooomr, linkmarking host Ma.gnolia, identity aggregator ClaimID, icon provider IconBuffet, user stylesheet repository UserStyles.org, and Basecamp and Highrise by 37signals.
  • Yahoo! users can use their yahoo ids as OpenIDs.
  • A complete list of sites supporting OpenID(s) is available on the OpenID Directory.

Various Entities in OpenID

Now let us look at the various entities involved in the OpenID world.

The Open ID Entities

End user

This is the person who wants to assert his or her identity to a site.


This is the URL or XRI chosen by the End User as their OpenID identifier.

Identity provider or OpenID provider

This is a service provider offering the service of registering OpenID URLs or XRIs and providing OpenID authentication (and possibly other identity services).

Note: The OpenID specifications use the term “OpenID provider” or “OP”.

Relying party

This is the site that wants to verify the end user’s identifier, who is also called a “service provider”.

Server or server-agent

This is the server that verifies the end user’s identifier. This may be the end user’s own server (such as their blog), or a server operated by an identity provider.


This is the program (such as a browser) that the end user is using to access an identity provider or a relying party.


This is an obsolete term for the relying party.

Technology in OpenID

Typically, a relying party website (like example.website.com) will display an OpenID login form somewhere on the page. Compared to a regular login form where there are fields for user name and password, the OpenID logic form only has one field for the OpenID identifier. It is often accompanied by the OpenID logo: open id logo medium. This form is in turn connected to an implementation of an OpenID client library.

The Open ID Protocol

A user will have to register and have an OpenID identifier (like yourname.openid.example.org) with an OpenID provider (like openid.example.org). To login to the relying party website, the user will have to type in their OpenID identifier in the OpenID login form.

The relying party website will typically transform the OpenID identifier into a URL (like http://yourname.openid.example.org/). In OpenID 2.0, the client will thus discover the identity provider service URL by requesting the XRDS document (which is also called the Yadis document) with the content type application/xrds+xml which is available at the target URL and is always available for a target XRI.

Now, here is what happens next. The relying party and the identity provider establish a connection referenced by the associate handle. The relying party then stores this handle and redirects the user’s web browser to the identity provider to allow the authentication process.

In the next step, the OpenID identity provider prompts the user for a password, or an InfoCard and asks whether the user trusts the relying party website to receive their credentials and identity details.

The user can either agree or decline the OpenID identity provider’s request. If the user declines, the browser is redirected to the relying party with a message to that effect and the site refuses to authenticate the user. If the user accepts the request to trust the relying party website, the user’s credentials are exchanged and the browser is then redirected to the designated return page of the relying party website. Then the relying party also checks that the user’s credentials did come from the identity provider.

Once the OpenID identifier has been properly verified, the OpenID authentication is considered successful and the user is considered to be logged into the relying party website with the given identifier (like yourname.openid.example.org). The website then stores the OpenID identifier in the user’s session.

Case Study

Now let us take a simple case of Sunil, who wants to buy a Comprehensive Guide to OpenID by Raffeq Rehman, CISSP. This e-book is available only on-line at www.MyBooks.com a technology thought leader which believes in easing the end user’s on-line experience by accepting OpenID based login.

Sunil is a tech savvy individual who has already registered himself at www.singleid.net (India’s first OpenID provider) and they have provided him with his unique login identity, which is: http://sunil.sigleid.net.

The easiest entity to recognize in this purchase scenario is Sunil, the End-User. Obviously Sunil will use his web browser, which is known as the User-agent to access the MyBooks.com.

So, Sunil visits www.MyBooks.com and starts to look for the book he wants. He follows the standard procedures on this website and chooses his book and clicks the check-out link to buy this book. First thing MyBooks.com does is asks him to log-in and gives him an option of logging in with your OpenID.

Since Sunil has already registered himself with SingleId.net, they have provided him with his login-id (which is bit different). So here, www.singleid.net is the Identity Provider or OpenID provider.

Now we know that OpenID uses same method to identify individuals, which is commonly used for identifying websites and hence his identity (Identifier in OpenID context) is http://sunil.sigleid.net. Now SingleId.net part in his identity tells MyBooks.com that he has registered himself at www.singleid.net.

At this stage MyBooks.com sends him to www.singleid.net to log in. Notice that MyBooks.com does not request Sunil to login but relies on SingleID.net. And so MyBooks.com or www.MyBooks.com is the Relying Party or the Consumer. Once Sunil complete his login process which is authenticated against the Server-Agent (typically Server-Agent is nothing but your identity provider) SingleID.net sends him back to MyBooks.com and tells MyBooks.com that Sunil is the person who he says he is, and MyBooks.com can let him complete the purchase operation.

Leading Players in the OpenID World & Important Milestones

  • Web developer JanRain was an early supporter of OpenID, providing OpenID software libraries and expanding its business around OpenID-based
  • In March 2006, JanRain developed a Simple Registration Extension for OpenID for primitive profile-exchange
  • With Verisign and Sxip Identity joining and focusing on OpenID development new standard of OpenID protocol OpenID 2.0 and OpenID Attribute Exchange extension were developed
  • On January 31, 2007, computer security company Symantec announced support for OpenID in its Identity Initiative products and services. A week later, on February 6 Microsoft made a joint announcement with JanRain, Sxip, and VeriSign to collaborate on interoperability between OpenID and Microsoft’s Windows CardSpace digital identity platform, with particular focus on developing a phishing-resistant authentication solution for OpenID.
  • In May 2007, information technology company Sun Microsystems began working with the OpenID community, announcing an OpenID program.
  • In mid-January 2008, Yahoo! announced initial OpenID 2.0 support, both as a provider and as a relying party, releasing the service by the end of the month. In early February, Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign, and Yahoo! joined the OpenID Foundation as corporate board members

OpenID: Issues in Discussion and Proposed Solutions

As is the case with any technology, there are some issues in discussion with regard to OpenID and its usability and implementation. Let us have a look at the points raised and the solutions offered:

Issue I:

Although OpenID may create a very user-friendly environment, several people have raised the issue of security. Phishing and digital identity theft are the main focus of this issue. It is claimed that OpenID may have security weaknesses which might leave user identities vulnerable to phishing.

Solution Offered:

Personal Icon: A Personal Icon is a picture that you can specify which is then presented to you in the title bar every time you visit the particular site. This aids in fighting phishing as you’ll get used to seeing the same picture at the top of the page every time you sign in. If you don’t see it, then you know that something might be up.

Issue II:

People have also criticized the login process on the grounds that having the OpenID identity provider into the authentication process adds complexity and therefore creates vulnerability in the system. This is because the ‘quality’ of such an OpenID identity provider cannot be established.

Solution Offered:

SafeSignIn: SafeSignIn is an option that users can set on their settings page that allows you to choose the option where you cannot be redirected to your OpenID provider to enter a password. You can only sign-in in provider’s login page. If you are redirected to your provider from another site, you are presented with the dialog warning you not to enter your password anywhere else.

Value Proposition

There are several benefits to using OpenID – both for the users and for the websites.

Benefits for the End User:

  • You don’t have to remember multiple user IDs and passwords – just one login.
  • Portability of your identity (especially if you own the domain you are delivering your identity from). This gives you better control over your identity.

Benefits for OpenID Enabled Websites:

  • No more registration forms: With OpenID, websites can get rid of the clutter of the registration forms and allow users to quickly engage in better use of their sites, such as for conversations, commerce or feedback.
  • Increased stickiness: Users are more likely to come back since they do not have to remember an additional username-password combination.
  • Up-to-date registration information: Due to the need of frequent registrations, users often provide junk or inaccurate personal information. With OpenID, since only a one-time registration is necessary, users are more likely to provide more accurate data.

OpenID thus provides the users with a streamlined and smooth experience and website owners can gain from the huge usability benefit and reduce their clutter.

Why Relying Parties should implement OpenID based authentication?

  • Expedited customer acquisition: OpenID allows users to quickly and easily complete the account creation process by eliminating entry of commonly requested fields (email address, gender, birthdates etc.), thus reducing the friction to adopt a new service.
  • Outsourcing authentication saves costs: As a relying party you don’t have to worry about lost user names, passwords, a costly infrastructure, upgrading to new standards and devices. You can just focus on your core. From research the average cost per user for professional authentication are approximately €34 per year. In the future, the relying party will end up paying only a few Cents per authentication request (transaction based).
  • Reduced user account management costs: The primary cost for most IT organizations is resetting forgotten authentication credentials. By reducing the number of credentials, a user is less likely to forget their credentials. By outsourcing the authentication process to a third-party, the relying party can avoid those costs entirely.
  • Your customers are demanding user-centric authentication: User-centric authentication gives your customers comfort. It promises no registration hassle and low barriers of entry to your service. Offering UCA to your customers can be a unique selling point and stimulate user participation.
  • Thought leadership: There is an inherent marketing value for an organization to associate itself with activities that promote it as a thought leader. It provides the organization with the means to distinguish itself from its competitors. This is your chance to outpace your competitors.
  • Simplified user experience: This is at the end of the list because that is not the business priority. The business priority is the benefit that results from a simplified user experience, not the simplified user experience itself.
  • Open up your service to a large group of potential customers: You are probably more interested in the potential customers you don’t know, versus the customers you already service. UCA makes this possible. If you can trust the identity of new customers you can start offering services in a minute.
  • The identity provider follows new developments: When a new authentication token or protocol is introduced you don’t have to replace your whole infrastructure.
  • Time to market: Due to legislation you are suddenly confronted with an obligation to offer two factor authentications. UCA is very easy to integrate and you are up and running a lot quicker
  • Data sharing: If the identity provider also offers the option to provide additional (allowed) attributes of the end-user you don’t have to store all this data yourself. For example, if I go on a holiday for a few weeks, I just update my temporary address instead of calling the customer service of my local newspaper!
  • Quickly offer new services under your brand: If you take over a company or want to offer a third party service under your brand/ infrastructure UCA makes it much easier to manage shared users. How much time does this take at the moment?
  • Corporate image: As SourceForge states they also offer OpenID support to join the web 2.0 space and benefit from the first mover buzz. Besides adding a good authentication mechanism provided by a trusted identity provider could add value to your own service. It is like adding a trust seal of your SSL certificate provider.
  • Extra Traffic: Today you get only those users whom you solicit but miss on those who are solicited by other similar businesses like yours. OpenID brings extra traffic to your website without you spending that extra effort.
  • Analytics: Providers can give you much more analytics on your users’ behavior patterns (this can be anonymous to keep user identity private and report something like 30% of people who visit your site also visit site ‘x’).

OpenID and Info-Cards

It is believed that user-id/password based log-in is the oldest, commonly used and easily implementable, but, at the same time, a weak method of authenticating and establishing somebody’s identity.

To overcome this problem and enhance the security aspect of OpenID based login processes, OpenID providers are using new techniques such as Info-cards (virtual cards based on user PC) based authentication. Microsoft is specially working with various leading OpenID providers to make Microsoft CardSpace as the de-facto standard for OpenID authentication.

There are two types of Info-Cards, Self-issued and Managed (or Managed by the provider). Self issued are the ones which are created by user stored on her/his PC and used during the login process. Since these cards are self issued level of verification provided by the users, their use is limited to the self-verified category and as such, provides a more secure replacement for User Id / Password combination only.

On the other hand ‘Managed Cards’ are managed by the specific provider. This can be your OpenID provider or your Bank. In this scenario, the data on the card is validated by the provider significantly enhancing the value of the verification. As such, these cards can easily be used in financial transactions for easing your on-line purchase process or for proving your legal identity.

There is emerging trend to bridge the gap between info-cards (virtual) and smart-cards (physical) and establish the link between them. Data can be copied to and fro giving your virtual card a physical status. In this scenario, your Info card (which was managed by the required management authority like Bank, RTO or so on) can take the place of your identity proof.

Some Interesting Sites Which Accept OpenID


An interesting site where you can create your own ‘story of your life’ – an interactive and chronological blog site, but with a difference (and that difference is not about being OpenID enabled) – see it to believe it!


If you are the kind of person who simply cannot decide whether to do ‘x’ or ‘y’, then here is the place for you. Put up your question and random strangers from the internet post their advice.


Here is the perfect solution for all those internet based companies – manage your contacts, to-do lists, e-mail based notifications, and what-not on this site. If the internet is where you work, then this site is perfect for you to get managing your business smoothly!


If you are a foodie then this site is the place for you! Post your own recipes and access the recipes posted by other people. Read opinions of people who have tried out the different recipes. Hungry?

About SingleID

SingleID is an OpenID provider – the first in India to do so. It allows users to register and create their OpenID(s) for FREE. It provides all the typical OpenID provider functions – allowing users to create their digital identity and using that to login to several OpenID enabled websites across the internet.

OpenID is being hailed as the ‘new face of the internet’ and SingleID is bringing it close to home. The main focus area of the company is to promote usage of OpenID in India.

If a user wants, he can also create multiple SingleID(s) with different account information, to use on different sites. So it allows you – the user – to control your digital identity, much in the same way as a regular login-password would – but with the added benefits of the OpenID technology.

SingleID has created a unique platform for website owners in India to generate a smooth user experience and create a wider base of operations and access for their websites.

Other user-centric services such as Virtual Cards (for more secure authentication) or allowing the use of user specific domain name (e.g. hemant.kulkarni.name) as an OpenID will be offered very soon.

For our partners we provide secured identity storage and authentication and authorization service alleviating headaches of critical security issues related to personal data.

We also provide the OpenID enablement service. Using our services companies can upgrade their user login process by accepting the OpenID based login largely enhancing their user base.

Links for Reference

· SingleID Home Page – http://www.singleid.net and Registration – https://www.singleid.net/register.htm

· OpenID Foundation Website – http://openid.net

· The OpenID Directory – http://openiddirectory.com/

About the author: Hemant Kulkarni is a founder director of SingleID.net. He has more than 25 years of product engineering and consulting experience in domains of networking and communications, Unix Systems and commercial enterprise software. You can reach him at hemant@singleid.net.

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Data Leakage Prevention – Overview

A few days ago, we posted a news article on how Reconnex has been named a top leader in Data Leakage Prevention (DLP) technology by Forrester Research. We asked Ankur Panchbudhe of Reconnex, Pune to write an article giving us a background on what DLP is, and why it is important.

Data leakage protection (DLP) is a solution for identifying, monitoring and protecting sensitive data or information in an organization according to policies. Organizations can have varied policies, but typically they tend to focus on preventing sensitive data from leaking out of the organization and identifying people or places that should not have access to certain data or information.

DLP is also known by many other names: information security, content monitoring and filtering (CMF), extrusion prevention, outbound content management, insider thread protection, information leak prevention (ILP), etc.

[edit] Need for DLP

Until a few years ago, organizations thought of data/information security only in terms of protecting their network from intruders (e.g. hackers). But with growing amount of data, rapid growth in the sizes of organizations (e.g. due to globalization), rise in number of data points (machines and servers) and easier modes of communication (e.g. IM, USB, cellphones), accidental or even deliberate leakage of data from within the organization has become a painful reality. This has lead to growing awareness about information security in general and about outbound content management in particular.

Following are the major reasons (and examples) that make an organization think about deploying DLP solutions:

  • growing cases of data and IP leakages
  • regulatory mandates to protect private and personal information
    • for example, the case of Monster.com losing over a million private customer records due to phishing
  • protection of brand value and reputation
    • see above example
  • compliance (e.g. HIPAA, GLBA, SOX, PCI, FERBA)
    • for example, Ferrari and McLaren engaging in anti-competitive practices by allegedly stealing internal technical documents
  • internal policies
    • for example, Facebook leaking some pieces of their code
  • profiling for weaknesses
    • Who has access to what data? Is sensitive data lying on public servers? Are employees doing what they are not supposed to do with data?

[edit] Components of DLP

Broadly, the core DLP process has three components: identification, monitoring and prevention.

The first, identification, is a process of discovering what constitutes sensitive content within an organization. For this, an organization first has to define “sensitive”. This is done using policies, which are composed of rules, which in turn could be composed of words, patterns or something more complicated. These rules are then fed to a content discovery engine that “crawls” data sources in the organization for sensitive content. Data sources could include application data like HTTP/FTP servers, Exchange, Notes, SharePoint and database servers, repositories like filers and SANs, and end-user data sources like laptops, desktops and removable media. There could be different policies for different classes of data sources; for example, the policies for SharePoint could try to identify design documents whereas those for Oracle could be tuned to discover credit card numbers. All DLP products ship with pre-defined policy “packages” for well-known scenarios, like PCI compliance, credit card and social security leakage.

The second component, monitoring, typically deployed at the network egress point or on end-user endpoints, is used to flag data or information that should not be going out of the organization. This flagging is done using a bunch of rules and policies, which could be written independently for monitoring purposes, or could be derived from information gleaned during the identification process (previous para). The monitoring component taps into raw data going over the wire, does some (optional) semantic reconstruction and applies policies on it. Raw data can be captured at many levels – network level (e.g. TCP/IP), session level (e.g. HTTP, FTP) or application level (e.g. Yahoo! Mail, GMail). At what level raw data is captured decides whether and how much semantic reconstruction is required. The reconstruction process tries to assemble together fragments of raw data into processable information, on which policies could be applied.

The third component, prevention, is the process of taking some action on the data flagged by the identification or monitoring component. Many types of actions are possible – blocking the data, quarantining it, deleting, encrypting, compressing, notifying and more. Prevention actions are also typically configured using policies and hook into identification and/or monitoring policies. This component is typically deployed along with the monitoring or identification component.

In addition to the above three core components, there is a fourth piece which can be called control. This is basically the component using which the user can [centrally] manage and monitor the whole DLP process. This typically includes the GUI, policy/rule definition and deployment module, process control, reporting and various dashboards.

[edit] Flavors of DLP

DLP products are generally sold in three “flavors”:

  • Data in motion. This is the flavor that corresponds to a combination of monitoring and prevention component described in previous section. It is used to monitor and control the outgoing traffic. This is the hottest selling DLP solution today.
  • Data at rest. This is the content discovery flavor that scours an organization’s machines for sensitive data. This solution usually also includes a prevention component.
  • Data in use. This solution constitutes of agents that run on end-servers and end-user’s laptops or desktops, keeping a watch on all activities related to data. They typically monitor and prevent activity on file systems and removable media options like USB, CDs and Bluetooth.

These individual solutions can be (and are) combined to create a much more effective DLP setup. For example, data at rest could be used to identify sensitive information, fingerprint it and deploy those fingerprints with data in motion and data in use products for an all-scenario DLP solution.

[edit] Technology

DLP solutions classify data in motion, at rest, and in use, and then dynamically apply the desired type and level of control, including the ability to perform mandatory access control that can’t be circumvented by the user. DLP solutions typically:

  • Perform content-aware deep packet inspection on outbound network communication including email, IM, FTP, HTTP and other TCP/IP protocols
  • Track complete sessions for analysis, not individual packets, with full understanding of application semantics
  • Detect (or filter) content that is based on policy-based rules
  • Use linguistic analysis techniques beyond simple keyword matching for monitoring (e.g. advanced regular expressions, partial document matching, Bayesian analysis and machine learning)

Content discovery makes use of crawlers to find sensitive content in an organization’s network of machines. Each crawler is composed of a connector, browser, filtering module and reader. A connector is a data-source specific module that helps in connecting, browsing and reading from a data source. So, there are connectors for various types of data sources like CIFS, NFS, HTTP, FTP, Exchange, Notes, databases and so on. The browser module lists what all data is accessible within a data source. This listing is then filtered depending on the requirements of discovery. For example, if the requirement is to discover and analyze only source code files, then all other types of files will be filtered out of the listing. There are many dimensions (depending on meta-data specific to a piece of data) on which filtering can be done: name, size, content type, folder, sender, subject, author, dates etc. Once the filtered list is ready, the reader module does the job of actually downloading the data and any related meta-data.

The monitoring component is typically composed of following modules: data tap, reassembly, protocol analysis, content analysis, indexing engine, rule engine and incident management. The data tap captures data from the wire for further analysis (e.g. WireShark aka Ethereal). As mentioned earlier, this capture can happen at any protocol level – this differs from vendor to vendor (depending on design philosophy). After data is captured from the wire, it is beaten into a form that is suitable for further analysis. For example, captured TCP packets could be reassembled into a higher level protocol like HTTP and further into application level data like Yahoo! Mail. After data is into a analyzable form, first level of policy/rule evaluation is done using protocol analysis. Here, the data is parsed for protocol specific fields like IP addresses, ports, possible geographic locations of IPs, To, From, Cc, FTP commands, Yahoo! Mail XML tags, GTalk commands and so on. Policy rules that depend on any such protocol-level information are evaluated at this stage. An example is – outbound FTP to any IP address in Russia. If a match occurs, it is recorded with all relevant information into a database. The next step, content analysis, is more involved: first, actual data and meta-data is extracted out of assembled packet, and then content type of the data (e.g. PPT, PDF, ZIP, C source, Python source) is determined using signatures and rule-base classification techniques (a similar but less powerful thing is “file” command in Unix). Depending on the content type of data, text is extracted along with as much meta-data as possible. Now, content based rules are applied – for example, disallow all Java source code. Again, matches are stored. Depending on the rules, more involved analysis like classification (e.g. Bayesian), entity recognition, tagging and clustering can also be done. The extracted text and meta-data is passed onto the indexing engine where it is indexed and made searchable. Another set of rules, which depend on contents of data, are evaluated at this point; an example: stop all MS Office or PDF files containing the words “proprietary and confidential” with a frequency of at least once per page. The indexing engine typically makes use of an inverted index, but there are other ways also. This index can also be used later to do ad-hoc searches (e.g. for deeper analysis of a policy match). All along this whole process, the rule engine keeps evaluating many rules against many pieces of data and keeping a track of all the matches. The matches are collated into what are called incidents (i.e. actionable events – from an organization perspective) with as much detail as possible. These incidents are then notified or shown to the user and/or also sent to the prevention module for further action.

The prevention module contains a rule engine, an action module and (possibly) connectors. The rule engine evaluates incoming incidents to determine action(s) that needs to be taken. Then the action module kicks in and does the appropriate thing, like blocking the data, encrypting it and sending it on, quarantining it and so on. In some scenarios, the action module may require help from connectors for taking the action. For example, for quarantining, a NAS connector may be used or for putting legal hold, a CAS system like Centera may be deployed. Prevention during content discovery also needs connectors to take actions on data sources like Exchange, databases and file systems.

[edit] Going Further

There are many “value-added” things that are done on top of the functionality described above. These are sometimes sold as separate features or products altogether.

  • Reporting and OLAP. Information from matches and incidents is fed into cubes and data warehouses so that OLAP and advanced reporting can be done with it.
  • Data mining. Incident/match information or even stored captured data is mined to discover patterns and trends, plot graphs and generate fancier reports. The possibilities here are endless and this seems to be the hottest field of research in DLP right now.
  • E-discovery. Here, factors important from an e-discovery perspective are extracted from the incident database or captured data and then pushed into e-discovery products or services for processing, review or production purposes. This process may also involve some data mining.
  • Learning. Incidents and mined information is used to provide a feedback into the DLP setup. Eventually, this can improve existing policies and even provide new policy options.
  • Integration with third-parties. For example, integration with BlueCoat provides setups that can capture and analyze HTTPS/SSL traffic.

DLP in Reconnex

Reconnex is a leader in the DLP technology and market. Its products and solutions deliver accurate protection against known data loss and provide the only solution in the market that automatically learns what your sensitive data is, as it evolves in your organization. As of today, Reconnex protects information for more than one million users. Reconnex starts with the protection of obvious sensitive information like credit card numbers, social security numbers and known sensitive files but goes further by storing and indexing upto all communications and upto all content. It is the only company in this field to do so. Capturing all content and indexing it enables organizations to learn what information is sensitive and who is allowed to see it, or conversely who should not see it. Reconnex is also well-known for its unique case management capabilities, where incidents and their disposition can be grouped, tracked and managed as cases.

Reconnex is also the only solution in the market that is protocol-agnostic. It captures data at the network level and reconstructs it to higher levels – from TCP/IP to HTTP, SMTP and FTP to GMail, Yahoo! Chat and Live.

Reconnex offers all three flavors of DLP through its three flagship products: iGuard (data-in-motion), iDiscover (data-at-rest) and Data-in-Use. All its products have consistently been rated high in almost surveys and opinion polls. Industry analysts, Forrester and Gartner, also consider Reconnex a leader in their domain.

About the author: Ankur Panchbudhe is a principal software engineer in Reconnex, Pune. He has more than 6 years of R&D experience in domains of data security, archiving, content management, data mining and storage software. He has 3 patents granted and more than 25 pending in fields of electronic discovery, data mining, archiving, email systems, content management, compliance, data protection/security, replication and storage. You can find Ankur on Twitter.

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Reconnex named a leader in DLP by Forrester

(Newsitem forwarded to punetech by Anand Kekre of Reconnex)

Reconnex, has been named a “top leader” in the data leak prevention space by Forrester in its DLP Q2 2008 report.

DLP software allows a company to monitor all data movements in the company and ensure that “sensitive” data (i.e. intellectual property, financial information, etc.) does not go out of the company. Reconnex and Websense have been named as the two top leaders in this space by Forrester.

Forrester employed approximately 74 criteria in the categories of current offering, strategy, and market presence to evaluate participating vendors on a scale from 0 (weak) to 5 (strong).

  • Reconnex received a perfect score of 5.0 in the sub-categories of data-in-motion (i.e., the network piece of DLP), unified management, and administration
  • Reconnex tied for the top scores in the sub-categories of data-at-rest (i.e., discovery) and forensics

“Reconnex offers best-in-class product functionality through its automated classification and analysis engine, which allows customers to sift through the actual data that the engine monitors to learn what is important to protect,” according to the Forrester Wave: Data Leak Prevention, Q2 2008 Report. “This solution stands out because it is the only one that automatically discovers and classifies sensitive data without prior knowledge of what needs to be protected.”

For more information about this award, see Reconnex’ press release.

For more information about Reconnex technology, see the punetech wiki profile of Reconnex.

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Company Profile: Reconnex

(This article is a copy of the Reconnex Pagecreated by Anand Kekre on the PuneTech wiki. Please help by creating one like this for your own company.)

Reconnex is a provider of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) appliances that are designed for organizations that want to secure sensitive information, protect their brands and maintain compliance. Reconnex not only delivers protection against known data-loss threats, but also provides a solution that automatically learns of and defends against new threats as they evolve. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, CA with its R&D center in the heart of Pune City (Model Colony).


[edit] Products

Reconnex has a high-performance, high-accuracy, appliance-based data loss prevention system that enables an organization to protect all information assets on its network without requiring up-front knowledge of what needs to be protected, and regardless of how that information is stored, secured, or communicated. As a result, IT can protect against both known and emerging threats.

Reconnex provides comprehensive information protection solutions in three key areas:

  • Data-in-Motion – Deployed at the network perimeter, Reconnex can inspect incoming and outgoing traffic to accurately identify information security violations
  • Data-at-Rest – Deployed in the campus network, Reconnex can connect to and inspect the contents of laptops, desktops, servers, and information repositories to identify sensitive material, and arm data-in-motion and data-in-use systems to protect it accordingly
  • Data-in-Use – Deployed as an agent on the user desktop or laptop, Reconnex can provide information protection whether the user is on the network or off the network through virtually any I/O channel that presents an information security risk.

The Reconnex system is comprised of two components:

  • iGuard Appliance – Hardened, turnkey appliance solution for information monitoring and protection
  • inSight Console – Intuitive central management console for managing device configurations, reporting, incidents, policies, rules, and case management

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[edit] People

Reconnex is headed in India by Anand Kekre

Nevis Networks Named as Finalist for the Red Herring 100 North America 2008 Award

Nevis Networks, which builds secure switching and identity-based policy enforcement appliances, today announced that it has been named as a finalist for the Red Herring 100 Award, a selection of the 100 North American private companies playing a leading role in innovation and technology. This marks the third year that Nevis Networks has achieved finalist status, in addition to winning Red Herring’s “10 Private Security Companies to Watch” in 2006. Red Herring’s editorial staff chose the finalists after evaluating some 1200 private companies through a careful analysis of various criteria including financial data, quality of management, execution of strategy, and dedication to research and development.

Source: Press Release.