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Archive for the ‘Masters’ Category

I’m happy. I finally got a degree in Computer Science, a Master’s degree to be exact. I dont know why, but my interest in Computer Science is super high. Personally, I think it is really nice to receive acknowledgement of competency in something that you are obsessed about.

When I was doing my 4-year MEng in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE), I was occasionally overwhelmed with frustration for not doing Computer Science instead. I guess now it has all turned out alright. 🙂 I can’t really do comparison between MEng and M.Sc. as one was done full-time and another part time. The experience was also very different as one was done in the UK and another locally.

The breakdown of Information Security course in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) is the following:

First Semester

Telecommunication, Network and Internet Security
Application Development Security
Introduction Cryptography
Seminar / Special Topics

Second Semester

Information System Security
Law, Investigation and Ethics
Operational and Physical Security

Third Semester

Research Methodology
Project 1
Security Architecture and Models
IT Project Management

Fourth Semester

Project II
Global Issues

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Global Issues are Interesting

Hmm, the number of readers of this blog is declining rapidly. Cant help it, been to busy for updating anything. The past 4 days, I have been working on two global issues assignment, firstly a group work about China and its rise to superpower, and secondly an individual work regarding G8 and its commitment towards eradicating global poverty.

I have to say, despite the short time allocated for this subject, I have learned tremendously a lot. Perhaps it’s because I previously knew so little about global issues, hence can easily absorb the intros and the fundamental theories. I am eager to learn more and actively participate in various discussion although for now, I’m too tired.

Yawn…

A better life awaits after I finish my part-time Master in a month (hopefully). Until then, this blog has to suffer for a while 😦

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Efficient.

There is no way I can afford to be less than that. I need to submit two assignments on global issue, the first about China’s rise as superpower, and the second about effectiveness of G8. After submitting the two assignments, I will only have a month left to finish my Project 2 : Securing Internet Voting System with Trusted Computing Technology. That’s actually not my project title, I’ve forgotten the actual title after a month of not touching project. I’ve been touching something else.

Funnily, I still procrastinate and write this blog post. 🙂

Regarding Go, I completed the second league but the result is not yet published on MWA website. Also, from 23rd September to 30th September, I will probably be representing Malaysia in Nanning, China for Nanning International Weiqi Tournament. I will also probably be representing Malaysia in Korea Prime Minister Cup in Jeonju, Korea from 22th October to 27th October. Both “probablies” were there because I am not sure whether my employer will grant me unrecorded leave or not. They suddenly make fuss about the invitation letters not having letterhead.

I might as well fit in a little update about my work here. I have finally completed the VBA Excel programming to track our team performance although from time to time, there will be new feature request from my superior which requires me to continually do the development. Honestly, I feel like a real programmer now 🙂 , although in reality I really should be doing sales consultancy and familiarise myself with various telecommunication products.

Okay, time to start writing about China rise to superpower. The superpower term is wide-ranging, and may cover economic, political, military and technological prowess. Anyone who has any idea that they want to share regarding this is most welcome.

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It’s very rarely that I talk about the intricate details of my research. It is not because of the potential business value. It is instead mainly for the reason that my research only truly began two days ago 🙂

My research is about bringing general election to the people via the Internet. So people do not have to travel back to their voting precinct just to mark a ballot. So that people will not be complaining when EC decides to have by-election on a weekday, like yesterday Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai tri-election. So that the Parliament no longer need to allocate RM100 million for election conduct, or for EC to employ nearly 200,000 election workers. There are plenty of motivations for having election conducted via Internet. At a more personal level, my research in this area is motivated by the prospect that I do not have to queue, and be stucked in traffic jam just to mark a ballot. Life is too short for such a thing. If a more convenient way exists for us to exercise our democratic rights, why not use it?

Election is interesting. It is the best type of contest, even better than a game contest such as Go and Shogi. Contestants in an election are actually racing against each other, trying to capture as many voters as possible.

It was a painful admission on my part, but an election contest is really better than a Go contest. While a Go contest brings out the character of the contestants, an election brings out the true character of a nation, the contestants personalities, the qualities of the voters and may even determine the fate of our children! I have none for now (or so I think?). Anyway, not being a Christian, I dont believe in Original Sin, but election is one case where the children en masse may have to suffer for the sins and foolhardy of their fathers, en masse. For that reason, I maintain that election (Parliamentary and State) are the best type of contests.

What are these true characters, and qualities? For instance, it could be our basic human survival instinct, despite masking ourselves as Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, atheists etc. Despite wearing the Malay, Chinese and Indian skin. Yes to bribery, yes to badmouthing, yes to selling principles, yes to holier-than-thou, yes to fraud. Yes, yes, yes. Votes are the One Ring, we are all Gollums.

Now that Internet voting is such a cool thing, why has it not been implemented? Well, actually it has been implemented in (astonishingly) Estonia. This one country that has been escaping from my mental image of the globe is now having 80% of my attention. Their citizens can vote via Internet, wohoo. Voting 2.0 if you want to call it 🙂 Well, actually, voting is the right of all residents of Estonia, not limited the citizens.

Utilising computer and Internet for voting is very tricky, due to its unique requirements. The most tricky of the requirements is ensuring fail-safe vote secrecy. No one is supposed to know who you had voted for ! And technology must be implemented to ensure that the voter can not prove to anyone that they had voted for this or that person. This is to discourage vote-buying (or vote-selling) and intimidation.

This requirement can be satisfactorily met by the traditional election. An individual voter enter the voting booth by him/herself, mark the ballot and cast it. Of course, RPK claims that vote buying still exist with the buyer instructing the voters to record their votes using handphone and show the image captured to receive rewards. Even if that is true, at least in traditional voting, such activities do not scale. In Internet voting however, such practice can be done in large scale, by distributing software that automates the recording and reporting of all activities of the voters. Potential for large-scale fraud is tremendous, which is why Internet voting must be subject to more strict requirements.

Internet voting is impossible, some people are crying! However Avi Rubin said, there is hope for Internet voting, when voters’ PC can be trusted, and trusted path can be established between the users and the voting servers.

Seriously, when will PC ever be trusted? We’re not just talking about being free from virus, or Trojan. We’re talking about even deeper level, i.e. secure boot, secure OS etc. Luckily for us, there is an effort started by Trusted Computing Platform Alliance to produce specification for a hardware that can be hard-mounted on our motherboard to facilitate this. This is the basis of Trusted Computing really.

My job is marrying Trusted Computing and Internet voting. Certainly not the first and last academic attempt at this. I’ll try to fit my research into Malaysian election scenario, to have a more personal flavour.

Ah, I think I have written long enough. Suprisingly, effortlessly. If only I could write thesis as easily as I write blog posts, I could have a long list of academic credentials by now 🙂 But of course, there is no academic quality in blog posts whatsoever. There is however, an eerie feeling that more people will read this post than people who will read my final thesis.

Which begs the question, what is the point of writing thesis?

begq

ps/: The time will come when there is no trust among humans, only between humans and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and trust among TPM-selves.

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Dr Rabiah requires me to submit my thesis Part I this Thursday, meaning that I have 72 hours to do extensive research and reporting. Ah, I love this feeling, when I have to push myself to the limit and will power plays the ultimate role for success. Say yes to adrenaline tsunami.

I however believe that nothing could substitute disciplined and consistent effort as the best recipe for success. I’ll adopt best practices next time. 🙂

3.. 2.. 1.. START

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Today, during our Operational & Physical class, a friend gave outburst of his dissatisfaction with many teachers who do not know how to use computer. “They are hopeless, cant even protect against viruses“. Then we also had discussion how some nurses and hospital staff lack security awareness.

It’s true. Many people really lack security awareness. They leave passwords on computer monitor. They open dubious email attachment. So on so forth.

However, I didnt share the strong sentiment of some from the  class. There are just too many awarenesses to take care of. Doctors and nurses will complain that we dont have kidney awareness. Or lung awareness. Bankers will say we lack financial awareness. Some will complain about legal awareness, or citizen’s rights awareness. And yeah there are more; environmental, spiritual awareness …

Haha what to do? !! Cant really handle all these awarenesses right?

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I came up to realise that there are things I can do whole day.

  1. Play Go / RPG
  2. Watch movies/ animes / TV series
  3. Driving smoothly, not in traffic jam
  4. Read Malaysia-Today

What about you?

By the way, it seems that I have built up interest in Information Security Masters course that I’m doing right now. I feel lucky for not switching to Real-time Software Engineering (RTSE) when at one point I was almost sure to. Is this one of those thing “be patient at first, you might like it later” as was said with my job too?

OK, time to study the life and death aspect of Go. That means, setting up black and white position according to problems from books, and stare at them few minutes each. For every problem, read about 7-10 moves ahead in many variations to improve my reading (imagining future moves) skill.

Yes, I do that on weekend nights ! Apparently I have too much time and too few girlfriends !

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