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The end of academic freedom in Florida? The courts will decide

Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog - 24 juni 2024 - 11:09pm
As I feared, Florida is indeed pushing the envelope on Garcetti and taking the position that faculty speech in the classroom at a public university is under the control of the state government: Last Friday, Cooper told the three 11th... Brian Leiter

Backdoor slipped into multiple WordPress plugins in ongoing supply-chain attack

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 11:00pm
Stylized illustration a door that opens onto a wall of computer code.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

WordPress plugins running on as many as 36,000 websites have been backdoored in a supply-chain attack with unknown origins, security researchers said on Monday.

So far, five plugins are known to be affected in the campaign, which was active as recently as Monday morning, researchers from security firm Wordfence reported. Over the past week, unknown threat actors have added malicious functions to updates available for the plugins on WordPress.org, the official site for the open source WordPress CMS software. When installed, the updates automatically create an attacker-controlled administrative account that provides full control over the compromised site. The updates also add content designed to goose search results.

Poisoning the well

“The injected malicious code is not very sophisticated or heavily obfuscated and contains comments throughout making it easy to follow,” the researchers wrote. “The earliest injection appears to date back to June 21st, 2024, and the threat actor was still actively making updates to plugins as recently as 5 hours ago.”

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Huddleston from Warwick to Notre Dame

Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog - 24 juni 2024 - 10:48pm
Andrew Huddleston (19th & 20th-century Continental philosophy [esp. Nietzsche], aesthetics, ethics), Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, will become Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, effective July 2025. Brian Leiter

iOS and iPadOS 18 add the option to format external drives

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 10:24pm
The back of an iPad on a table

Enlarge / The 2024 iPad Pro. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple has added the ability to format external drives in iOS 18 and iPadOS 18, the major software updates for iPhones and iPads due later this year.

While the feature likely won't be tapped by all that many users, its inclusion is fascinating in that it shows just how far Apple has moved away from its original sensibilities with the iPhone and the iPad.

The feature was discovered in the iPadOS 18 beta by artist and developer Kaleb Cadle, who posted about it to his Substack ByteBits a couple of days ago. It was later found in iOS 18 as well.

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Microsoft removes documentation for switching to a local account in Windows 11

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 9:43pm
A laptop PC running Windows 11 sitting next to a coffee mug.

Enlarge / A PC running Windows 11. (credit: Microsoft)

One of Windows 11's more contentious changes is that, by default, both the Home and Pro editions of the operating system require users to sign in with a Microsoft account during setup. Signing in with an account does get you some benefits, at least if you're a regular user of other Microsoft products like OneDrive, GamePass, or Microsoft 365 (aka Office). But if you don't use those services, a lot of what a Microsoft account gets you in Windows 11 is repeated ads and reminders about signing up for those services. Using Windows with a traditional local account is still extremely possible, but it does require a small amount of know-how beyond just clicking the right buttons.

On the know-how front, Microsoft has taken one more minor, but nevertheless irritating, step away from allowing users to sign in with local accounts. This official Microsoft support page walks users with local accounts through the process of signing in to a Microsoft account. As recently as June 12, that page also included instructions for converting a Microsoft account into a local account. But according to Tom's Hardware and the Internet Wayback Machine, those instructions disappeared on or around June 17 and haven't been seen since.

Despite the documentation change, most of the workarounds for creating a local account still work in both Windows 11 23H2 (the publicly available version of Windows 11 for most PCs) and 24H2 (available now on Copilot+ PCs, later this fall for everyone else). The easiest way to do it on a PC you just took out of the box is to press Shift+F10 during the setup process to bring up a command prompt window, typing OOBE\BYPASSNRO, rebooting, and then clicking the "I don't have Internet" button when asked to connect to a Wi-Fi network.

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Larry Finger made Linux wireless work and brought others along to learn

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 9:21pm
Laptop showing a Wi-Fi signal icon amidst an outdoor scene with a coffee cup nearby.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Linux and its code are made by people, and people are not with us forever. Over the weekend, a brief message on the Linux kernel mailing list reminded people of just how much one person can mean to a seemingly gargantuan project like Linux and how quickly they can disappear:

Denise Finger, wife of the deceased, wrote to the Linux Wireless list on Friday evening:

This is to notify you that Larry Finger, one of your developers, passed away on June 21st.

LWN.net reckons that Finger, 84, contributed to 94 Linux kernel releases, or 1,464 commits total, at least since kernel 2.6.16 in 2006 (and when the kernel started using git to track changes). Given the sometimes precarious nature of contributing to the kernel, this is on its own an impressive achievement—especially for someone with no formal computer training and who considered himself a scientist.

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Music industry giants allege mass copyright violation by AI firms

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 8:44pm
Michael Jackson in concert, 1986. Sony Music owns a large portion of publishing rights to Jackson's music.

Enlarge / Michael Jackson in concert, 1986. Sony Music owns a large portion of publishing rights to Jackson's music. (credit: Getty Images)

Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Warner Records have sued AI music-synthesis companies Udio and Suno for allegedly committing mass copyright infringement by using recordings owned by the labels to train music-generating AI models, reports Reuters. Udio and Suno can generate novel song recordings based on text-based descriptions of music (i.e., "a dubstep song about Linus Torvalds").

The lawsuits, filed in federal courts in New York and Massachusetts, claim that the AI companies' use of copyrighted material to train their systems could lead to AI-generated music that directly competes with and potentially devalues the work of human artists.

Like other generative AI models, both Udio and Suno (which we covered separately in April) rely on a broad selection of existing human-created artworks that teach a neural network the relationship between words in a written prompt and styles of music. The record labels correctly note that these companies have been deliberately vague about the sources of their training data.

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Astronomers think they’ve figured out how and when Jupiter’s Red Spot formed

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 7:36pm
Enhanced image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, as seen from a Juno flyby in 2018. The Red Spot we see today is likely not the same one famously observed by Cassini in the 1600s.

Enlarge / Enhanced Juno image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot in 2018. It is likely not the same one observed by Cassini in the 1600s. (credit: Gerald Eichstadt and Sean Doran/CC BY-NC-SA)

The planet Jupiter is particularly known for its so-called Great Red Spot, a swirling vortex in the gas giant's atmosphere that has been around since at least 1831. But how it formed and how old it is remain matters of debate. Astronomers in the 1600s, including Giovanni Cassini, also reported a similar spot in their observations of Jupiter that they dubbed the "Permanent Spot." This prompted scientists to question whether the spot Cassini observed is the same one we see today. We now have an answer to that question: The spots are not the same, according to a new paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“From the measurements of sizes and movements, we deduced that it is highly unlikely that the current Great Red Spot was the ‘Permanent Spot’ observed by Cassini,” said co-author Agustín Sánchez-Lavega of the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain. “The ‘Permanent Spot’ probably disappeared sometime between the mid-18th and 19th centuries, in which case we can now say that the longevity of the Red Spot exceeds 190 years.”

The planet Jupiter was known to Babylonian astronomers in the 7th and 8th centuries BCE, as well as to ancient Chinese astronomers; the latter's observations would eventually give birth to the Chinese zodiac in the 4th century BCE, with its 12-year cycle based on the gas giant's orbit around the Sun. In 1610, aided by the emergence of telescopes, Galileo Galilei famously observed Jupiter's four largest moons, thereby bolstering the Copernican heliocentric model of the solar system.

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iFixit says new Arm Surface hardware “puts repair front and center”

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 7:27pm
Microsoft's 11th-edition Surface Pro, as exploded by iFixit. Despite adhesive holding in the screen and the fact that you need to remove the heatsink to get at the battery, it's still much more repairable than past Surfaces or competing tablets.

Enlarge / Microsoft's 11th-edition Surface Pro, as exploded by iFixit. Despite adhesive holding in the screen and the fact that you need to remove the heatsink to get at the battery, it's still much more repairable than past Surfaces or competing tablets. (credit: iFixit)

For a long time, Microsoft's Surface hardware was difficult-to-impossible to open and repair, and devices as recent as 2019's Surface Pro 7 still managed a repairability score of just 1 out of 10 on iFixit's scale. 2017's original Surface Laptop needed to be physically sliced apart to access its internals, making it essentially impossible to try to fix the machine without destroying it.

But in recent years, partly due to pressure from shareholders and others, Microsoft has made an earnest effort to improve the repairability of its devices. The company has published detailed repair manuals and videos and has made changes to its hardware designs over the years to make it easier to open them without breaking them and easier to replace parts once you’re inside. Microsoft also sells some first-party parts for repairs, though not every part from every Surface is available, and Microsoft and iFixit have partnered to offer other parts as well.

Now, iFixit has torn apart the most recent Snapdragon X-powered Surface Pro and Surface Laptop devices and has mostly high praise for both devices in its preliminary teardown video. Both devices earn an 8 out of 10 on iFixit's repairability scale, thanks to Microsoft's first-party service manuals, the relative ease with which both devices can be opened, and clearly labeled internal components.

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EU says Apple violated app developers’ rights, could be fined 10% of revenue

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 6:05pm
Apple logo is displayed on a smartphone with a European Union flag in the background.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images )

The European Commission today said it found that Apple is violating the Digital Markets Act (DMA) with App Store rules and fees that "prevent app developers from freely steering consumers to alternative channels for offers and content." The commission "informed Apple of its preliminary view" that the company is violating the law, the regulator announced.

This starts a process in which Apple has the right to examine documents in the commission's investigation file and reply in writing to the findings. There is a March 2025 deadline for the commission to make a final ruling.

The commission noted that it "can impose fines up to 10 percent of the gatekeeper's total worldwide turnover," or up to 20 percent for repeat infringements. For "systematic infringements," the European regulator could respond by requiring "a gatekeeper to sell a business or parts of it, or banning the gatekeeper from acquisitions of additional services related to the systemic non-compliance."

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Is having a pet good for you? The fuzzy science of pet ownership

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 4:13pm
A picture of a bull terrier on a park bench

Enlarge (credit: Azaliya via Getty)

For more than a decade, in blog posts and scientific papers and public talks, the psychologist Hal Herzog has questioned whether owning pets makes people happier and healthier.

It is a lonely quest, convincing people that puppies and kittens may not actually be terrific for their physical and mental health. “When I talk to people about this,” Herzog recently said, “nobody believes me.” A prominent professor at a major public university once described him as “a super curmudgeon” who is, in effect, “trying to prove that apple pie causes cancer.”

As a teenager in New Jersey in the 1960s, Herzog kept dogs and cats, as well as an iguana, a duck, and a boa constrictor named Boa. Now a professor emeritus at Western Carolina University, he insists he’s not out to smear anyone’s furry friends. In a blog post questioning the so-called pet effect, in 2012, Herzog included a photo of his cat, Tilly. “She makes my life better,” he wrote. “Please Don’t Blame The Messenger!”

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Decades later, John Romero looks back at the birth of the first-person shooter

Ars Technica - 24 juni 2024 - 1:00pm
Decades later, John Romero looks back at the birth of the first-person shooter

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Id | GDC)

John Romero remembers the moment he realized what the future of gaming would look like.

In late 1991, Romero and his colleagues at id Software had just released Catacomb 3-D, a crude-looking, EGA-colored first-person shooter that was nonetheless revolutionary compared to other first-person games of the time. "When we started making our 3D games, the only 3D games out there were nothing like ours," Romero told Ars in a recent interview. "They were lockstep, going through a maze, do a 90-degree turn, that kind of thing."

Despite Catacomb 3-D's technological advances in first-person perspective, though, Romero remembers the team at id followed its release by going to work on the next entry in the long-running Commander Keen series of 2D platform games. But as that process moved forward, Romero told Ars that something didn't feel right.

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How Sci-Fi Writers Isaac Asimov & Robert Heinlein Contributed to the War Effort During World War II

Open Culture - 24 juni 2024 - 11:00am

Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague De Camp at the Navy Yard in 1944

Robert Heinlein was born in 1907, which put him on the mature side by the time of the United States’ entry into World War II. Isaac Asimov, his younger colleague in science fiction, was born in 1920 (or thereabouts), and thus of prime fighting age. But in the event, they made most of their contribution to the war effort in the same place, the Naval Aviation Experimental Station in Philadelphia. By 1942, Heinlein had become the preeminent sci-fi writer in America, and the 22-year-old Asimov, a graduate student in chemistry at Columbia, had already made a name for himself in the field. It was Heinlein, who’d signed on to run a materials testing laboratory at the Yard, who brought Asimov into the military-research fold.

Having once been a Navy officer, discharged due to tuberculosis, Heinlein jumped at the chance to serve his country once again. During World War II, writes John Redford at A Niche in the Library of Babel, “his most direct contribution was in discussions of how to merge data from sonar, radar, and visual sightings with his friend Cal Laning, who captained a destroyer in the Pacific and was later a rear admiral. Laning used those ideas to good effect in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, the largest naval battle ever fought.” Asimov “was mainly involved in testing materials,” including those used to make “dye markers for airmen downed at sea. These were tubes of fluorescent chemicals that would form a big green patch on the water around the guy in his life jacket. The patch could be seen by searching aircraft.”

Asimov scholars should note that a test of those dye markers counts as one of just two occasions in his life that the aerophobic writer ever dared to fly. That may well have been the most harrowing of either his or Heinlein’s wartime experiences, they were both involved in the suitably speculative “Kamikaze Group,” which was meant to work on “invisibility, death rays, force fields, weather control” — or so Paul Malmont tells it in his novel The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. You can read a less heightened account of Heinlein and Asimov’s war in Astounding, Alec Nevala-Lee’s history of American science fiction.

Their time together in Philadephia wasn’t long. “As the war ended, Asimov was drafted into the Army, where he spent nine months before he was able to leave, where he returned to his studies and writing,” according to Andrew Liptak at Kirkus Reviews. “Heinlein contemplated returning to writing full time, as a viable career, rather than as a side exercise.” When he left the Naval Aviation Experimental Station, “he resumed writing and working on placing stories in magazines.” In the decades thereafter, Heinlein’s work took on an increasingly militaristic sensibility, and Asimov’s became more and more concerned with the enterprise of human civilization broadly speaking. But pinning down the influence of their war on their work is an exercise best left to the sci-fi scholars.

Related content:

Sci-Fi Icon Robert Heinlein Lists 5 Essential Rules for Making a Living as a Writer

Isaac Asimov Recalls the Golden Age of Science Fiction (1937–1950)

Sci-Fi Writer Robert Heinlein Imagines the Year 2000 in 1949, and Gets it Mostly Wrong

X Minus One: Hear Classic Sci-Fi Radio Stories from Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury & Dick

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: 17,500 Entries on All Things Sci-Fi Are Now Free Online

Read Hundreds of Free Sci-Fi Stories from Asimov, Lovecraft, Bradbury, Dick, Clarke & More

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities and the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Wie bewijst er dat authenticatiemiddelen zijn misbruikt?

IusMentis - 24 juni 2024 - 8:11am

Moet jij bewijzen dat je handtekening is vervalst, of de wederpartij het omgekeerde? Die vraag kwam recent zijdelings langs bij het Hof Amsterdam in een zaak over een borgtochtovereenkomst.

De gedaagde partij zou volgens een borgtochtovereenkomst op moeten draaien voor een lening van € 18.630 aan een (ondertussen failliet) bedrijf waar hij directeur en enig aandeelhouder van was. In art. 7:859 BW staat dat een borgovereenkomst alleen kan worden bewezen met een door de borgsteller ondertekend geschrift. Betwisten van de handtekening kan dus een effectief middel zijn om zo’n borg van tafel te krijgen.

Het Hof vindt de stelling dat deze persoon niets te maken had met de lening of borg moeilijk te geloven – hij was immers de enige directeur van het bedrijf. Die skepsis zien we terug in de beoordeling van de argumenten over identiteitsmisbruik: In dat verband ligt het op zijn weg toe te lichten hoe het mogelijk is dat derden in het bezit zijn gekomen van gegevens met betrekking tot Zesto Groep zoals inloggegevens behorend bij de mailaccount en de bankrekening van Zesto Groep en wat de achtergrond en redenen ervan zijn dat diverse geldbedragen van de bankrekening van Zesto Groep zijn overgeboekt naar zijn eigen privérekening. De achterliggende technologie is IDIN. Hierbij identificeer je jezelf via je bank, wat algemeen als veilig wordt gezien omdat toegang tot bankrekeningen al aan strenge authenticatie- en veiligheidsvoorschriften gebonden is. Daarnaast wordt gesproken over een mailaccount, dat is het info@ adres dus ik kan me nog nét voorstellen dat een ander dan de directeur in die mailbox kan.

Bij het banksysteem is dat wat meer twijfelachtig, gezien het algemeen bekende feit dat daar tweefactorauthenticatie en andere controles en toezicht zijn. Terecht zegt het Hof dan ook: Onder deze omstandigheden lag het op de weg van [appellant] toe te lichten hoe het mogelijk is dat derden aan zijn persoonlijke inloggegevens zijn gekomen als het werkelijk zo is dat een en ander buiten hem om is gegaan. [appellant] heeft die toelichting evenwel niet gegeven. De stelling van [appellant] dat de stem in de geluidsfragmenten van de telefoongesprekken niet van hem is, maar van [naam 3] en dat daaruit zou moeten blijken dat niet [appellant] maar [naam 3] betrokken is geweest bij de totstandkoming van de overeenkomsten, is door [appellant] – tegenover de betwisting van [geïntimeerde] – op geen enkele wijze onderbouwd. Dit wringt in zoverre dat normaliter de wederpartij bij een “stellige ontkenning” moet bewijzen dat de handtekening wél door die persoon is gezet (art. 159 lid 2 Rv). En daar komt bij dat de borg door deze meneer is aangegaan vanuit zakelijke motieven – zijn eigen bedrijf, immers – en dat de strenge handtekeningeis daarmee van tafel is.

De man krijgt de borgverplichting dus gewoon opgelegd. Had hij enige argumenten ingebracht waarom zijn account gehackt was of internetbankieren overgenomen, dan was dat wellicht anders komen te liggen.

Arnoud

Het bericht Wie bewijst er dat authenticatiemiddelen zijn misbruikt? verscheen eerst op Ius Mentis.

Watch Patti Smith Read from Virginia Woolf, and Hear the Only Surviving Recording of Woolf’s Voice

Open Culture - 24 juni 2024 - 7:09am

In the video above, poet, artist, National Book Award winner, and “godmother of punk” Patti Smith reads a selection from Virginia Woolf’s 1931 experimental novel The Waves, accompanied on piano and guitar by her daughter Jesse and son Jackson. The “reading” marked the opening of “Land 250,” a 2008 exhibition of Smith’s photography and artwork from 1965 to 2007, at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris.

I put the word “reading” in quotes above because Smith only reads a very short passage from Woolf’s novel. The rest of the dramatic performance is Smith in her own voice, possibly improvising, possibly reciting her homage to Woolf—occasioned by the fact that the start of the exhibition fell on the 67th anniversary of Woolf’s death by suicide. Of Woolf’s death, Smith says, “I do not think of this as sad. I just think that it’s the day that Virginia Woolf decided to say goodbye. So we are not celebrating the day, we are simply acknowledging that this is the day. If I had a title to call tonight, I would call it ‘Wave.’ We are waving to Virginia.”

Smith’s choice of a title for the evening is significant. She titled her 1979 album Wave, her last record before she went into semi-retirement in the 80s. And her exhibition included a set of beautiful photographs taken at Woolf’s Sussex retreat, Monk’s House. Her performance seems like an unusual confluence of voices, but Woolf might have enjoyed it, since so much of her work explored the uniting of separate minds, over the barriers of space and time. While Smith expresses her indebtedness to Woolf, one wonders what the upper-class Bloomsbury daughter of a well-connected and artistic family would have thought of the working-class punk-poet from the Lower East Side? It’s impossible to say, of course, but somehow it’s fitting that they meet through Woolf’s The Waves.

Woolf’s novel (she called it a “playpoem”) blends the voices of six characters, but Woolf didn’t think of them as characters at all, but as aspects of a greater, ever-shifting whole. As she once wrote in a letter:

The six characters were supposed to be one. I’m getting old myself now—I shall be fifty next year; and I come to feel more and more how difficult it is to collect oneself into one Virginia; even though the special Virginia in whose body I live for the moment is violently susceptible to all sorts of separate feelings. Therefore I wanted to give the sense of continuity.

Speculation over Woolf’s mental health aside, her references to voices in her letters, diaries, and in her eloquent letter to Leonard Woolf before she died, were also statements of her craft—which embraced the inner voices of others, not letting any one voice be dominant. I like to think Woolf would have been delighted with the fierceness of Smith—in some ways, Virginia Woolf anticipated punk, and Patti Smith. In her own voice below, you can hear her describe the words of the English language as “irreclaimable vagabonds,” who “if you start a Society for Pure English, they will show their resentment by starting another for impure English…. They are highly democratic.”

The recording below comes from an essay published in a collection—The Death of the Moth and Other Essays—the year after Woolf’s death. The talk was called “Craftsmanship,” part of a BBC radio broadcast from 1937, and it is the only surviving recording of Woolf’s voice.

Related Content

Patti Smith on Virginia Woolf’s Cane, Charles Dickens’ Pen & Other Cherished Literary Talismans

Patti Smith’s Polaroids of Artifacts from Virginia Woolf, Arthur Rimbaud, Roberto Bolaño & More

Patti Smith Reads Her Final Letter to Robert Mapplethorpe, Calling Him “the Most Beautiful Work of All”

Patti Smith’s 40 Favorite Books

 Josh Jones is a writer, editor, and musician based in Washington, DC. Follow him @jdmagness

More Memory Safety for Let’s Encrypt: Deploying ntpd-rs

Let's encrypt - 24 juni 2024 - 2:00am

When we look at the general security posture of Let’s Encrypt, one of the things that worries us most is how much of the operating system and network infrastructure is written in unsafe languages like C and C++. The CA software itself is written in memory safe Golang, but from our server operating systems to our network equipment, lack of memory safety routinely leads to vulnerabilities that need patching.

Partially for the sake of Let’s Encrypt, and partially for the sake of the wider Internet, we started a new project called Prossimo in 2020. Prossimo’s goal is to make some of the most critical software infrastructure for the Internet memory safe. Since then we’ve invested in a range of software components including the Rustls TLS library, Hickory DNS, River reverse proxy, sudo-rs, Rust support for the Linux kernel, and ntpd-rs.

Let’s Encrypt has now taken a step that was a long time in the making: we’ve deployed ntpd-rs, the first piece of memory safe software from Prossimo that has made it into the Let’s Encrypt infrastructure.

Most operating systems use the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to accurately determine what time it is. Keeping track of time is a critical task for an operating system, and since it involves interacting with the Internet it’s important to make sure NTP implementations are secure.

In April of 2022, Prossimo started work on a memory safe and generally more secure NTP implementation called ntpd-rs. Since then, the implementation has matured and is now maintained by Project Pendulum. In April of 2024 ntpd-rs was deployed to the Let’s Encrypt staging environment, and as of now it’s in production.

Over the next few years we plan to continue replacing C or C++ software with memory safe alternatives in the Let’s Encrypt infrastructure: OpenSSL and its derivatives with Rustls, our DNS software with Hickory, Nginx with River, and sudo with sudo-rs. Memory safety is just part of the overall security equation, but it’s an important part and we’re glad to be able to make these improvements.

We depend on contributions from our community of users and supporters in order to provide our services. If your company or organization would like to sponsor Let’s Encrypt please email us at sponsor@letsencrypt.org. We ask that you make an individual contribution if it is within your means.

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