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skippy dot net » Security Through Stupidity

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2005.06.09 mid-afternoon

Security Through Stupidity 63

I purchased a Dell server today for work, through our account representative at Dell. At the end of the order process, just before confirmation, the Dell representative said:

Federal law requires that we ask what will this server be used for?

I asked, incredulously, "Why the hell does the federal government care?" to which the Dell representative replied "PATRIOT Act".

I certainly feel a lot safer knowing that terrorist are on their honor to tell the truth when buying servers from Dell.

Comments so far:


# 2005.06.09, mid-afternoon

You told him it was to take care of your excessive electricity supply, and to help warm that tiny server closet, right?

Mark J

# 2005.06.10, terribly early in the morning

"Hi, I would like to register"

"What will you be using this server for?"



# 2005.06.10, mid-morning

Yeah but what they don't tell you is that it doesn't matter what you say because big brother already has the server tagged somehow so that it can find out what you're using it for anyway.


# 2005.06.11, mid-afternoon

Now that's funny hahahaha.


# 2005.06.12, in the early evening

I do not understand it absolutely


# 2005.06.13, late at night

Elfboy isn't far off the mark; this technology is coming. I'm actually working on an article about it now.


# 2005.06.16, in the early morning

If you purchase a computer through Dell's website, one of the required questions during checkout is "Will you be using this computer for the development of WMD". There is actually a "YES" radio button available. Dell's just covering their asses so they're not responsible for any mayhem.


# 2005.06.16, in the early morning

didn't you know? Secrecy is illegal now…


# 2005.06.16, in the early morning

Another sign of the overreaching by the Government. The Patriot Act is up for renewal now and it would be a good time to let your Congress Critter know what you think of it. Also, what the heck is picture img_2366.jpg? Cigarette smoke? Blue flickering light twirled in front of a long opened camera lens? Looks cool but I can't identify it.


# 2005.06.16, in the early morning

gadlaw: I agree that it's important to let our representatives know how we feel, but I'm increasingly concerned that my representatives aren't actually interested in representing me!

img_2366.jpg is a long-exposure shot of someone dancing with a glo-necklace.


# 2005.06.16, in the early morning

In some stretch of my imagination, I could understand the government using the PATRIOT ACT to require you tell them what you're using your server for. But I'm fairly positive that the government can't force you to tell some kid who works at the DELL hotline anything. Does the DELL guy work for the government? Does the PATRIOT Act deputize DELL employees? What the hell? Just because the government is allowed to ask you things doesn't make it any of DELL's business. I think the proper response should be, "If the government wants to know, have them give me a call."


# 2005.06.16, in the early morning

I work for HP selling servers and everything else. I've never heard of this. Dell makes stuff up all the time.


# 2005.06.16, in the early morning

This is rife for funnage :D



# 2005.06.16, in the early morning

One of my mates used to live near a USAF base. They had similar questions on a standard form for surplus equipment sell offs. "Are you going to use this ____LAWNMOWER___ to further the cause of communism? Y/N"

There was also (apparently) a form for visiting Northern Ireland at one point, travelling from Britain. One question was "Have you ever been a member of a paramilitary organisation?". You have to wonder how many people got caught out by that one, though they apparently didnt take kindly to members of the Scouts ticking "yes".

Eric Bostrom

# 2005.06.16, mid-morning

i'll be hosting a jihad on friday and need to handle the traffic.

Nova Lounge

# 2005.06.16, in the early evening

Regime change begins at home…


# 2005.06.16, in the late evening

Carlito, I think many of us can answer "yes" to the "Will you be using this computer for the development of WMD” question, in an indirect way at least… If you use it to make a profit, you will be taxed, and that will go towards US efforts to develop better WMD's, right?

*sigh* Silly Bush.


# 2005.06.20, in the early morning

I still remember a big stink about some country buying hundreds of PS or some gaming console to cluster and run scientific research programs…

Sir, why are you buying that game console?…

stupidity increases in proportion to created/imaginary fear?


# 2005.06.20, in the early afternoon

It's like watching the final days of Rome. Too bad that the Ceasar in the White House has the intelligence of the salad.


# 2005.06.22, mid-afternoon

Wouldn't the easy answer be "computing"?


# 2005.06.22, mid-afternoon

Silly questions abound, all to cover people's butts. When I moved to the US in 1992 (from Canada), one of the questions on my green card application was "Do you, or any member of your immediate family, plan to violently overthrow the government of the United States or assasinate any elected official?" Not only did they have checkboxes for "yes" and "no", but they had a blank space labelled, "If you checked 'yes', please provide a detailed explanation in the space below." I never figured out what kind of explanation would make them give you a green card anyway.

Marquis DeSade

# 2005.06.22, mid-afternoon

I had to buy a server from DELL back in November. They never asked me anything like that other than if I was going to resell it or export it.

Lord Jim

# 2005.06.22, mid-afternoon

The proper response would be something to this effect:

"Sir, Federal law requires that I record the intended purpose of this system."

"None of your damn business"

"I'm sorry, but I cannot release this system for shipment if you don't tell me."

"Okay, you had your chance. Good bye."

I suspect this is just Dell trying to be a little too inquisitive and using the Act as cover. Besides, any corporate employee that says "{insert law here} requires that I ask you for personal information to which I am not entitled" should be told to take a hike.


# 2005.06.22, in the early evening

You are actually pretty close on the 'way to tie a computer or accessory to a user. An IT buddy of mine told me about something called a CAM Number hard programmed into every computer. It stands for Computer Assigned Number. This number can be or IS transmitted in info packets, can even be 'hidden' I would guess. It is also specific to each machine. SO, when you buy a computer, if you register it, or fill out the warranty slip, you have just tied yourself to a sopecific machine that CAN EASILY BE TRACKED, also taking into account the discovery of more than one 'NSA Key' in Microsoft's OS software. True anonimity begins with an UN-REGISTERED MACHINE THAT WAS PURCHASED AT POINT OF SALE WITH CASH!!!

amazing powers of observation

# 2005.06.22, in the early evening

i would had been a smart ass and said something like the server will serve the taliban

James McGuigan

# 2005.06.23, in the early morning

Maybe the reason for the question:
“Do you, or any member of your immediate family, plan to violently overthrow the government of the United States or assasinate any elected official?”

Is that if you ever do try to do it, they have one extra thing to put on the list of charges, if the evidence for your crimes of "terrorism" won't stand up in court, then they can still get you for "immirgration fraud for putting false information in an official form".

"Attempted Murder, what sort of crime is that. They don't give nobel prizes for 'Attempted' Chemestry now, do they?"


# 2005.06.23, around lunchtime

Elliot: RUN AWAY! It's the MARK OF THE DEVIL! My CAM ID was 0×353435_666!!

No, actually, your buddy and you have both fallen for an ignorant, paranoid conspiracy theory. You guys must think Fox News actually reports news. The only 'hidden' thing that gets transmitted over the internet that can uniquely identify your computer is the Ethernet MAC ID. You can change your MAC ID using various widely available software utilities.

If you want a true conspiracy, may I interest you in the Bush Administration?


# 2005.06.23, around lunchtime

what? would they refuse to sell if you refuse to answer?!?


# 2005.06.23, mid-afternoon

I kind of doubt this. Either the technician had no clue what he was saying, or dell is hiding behind patriot to get more information. I deal with Dell on 10-20 server purchases a month, and have never been asked to provide this.

Slight Lee Konsernd

# 2005.06.23, late at night

I think that's messed up. The Patriot act for all it says doesn't do a whole lot to prevent wmd's from falling into the wrong hands.
1. Los Alamos research can be entered by just walking around the fence. It's a long walk but very possible.
2. Lawrence Livermore labs routinely fails security tests and supposedly they do research on breifcase tactical nukes there.
Both of those labs are run by the University of California for the Government and their security is not as top notch as it could be.

We have a couple private nuclear reactors in the us to begin with… []
a terrorist doesn't need to create a WMD just a simple diesel fertilizer truck bomb and be willing to ram a gate or two.
And if all that isn't enough for you the gov't has kindly supplied a nice diagram of how a tactical nuke should work.. []
I'm also not even going to mention the security at fireworks storage facicilities, explosives dealers, weapon manufacturers and my favorite, National Guard Armories.


# 2005.06.24, around lunchtime

I work for a local government. We need a big and fast server to keep track of all the homes we'll be taking away with yesterday's Supreme Court ruling.


# 2005.06.24, in the early afternoon


To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.

I use it for other purposes


# 2005.06.24, at around evening time

"Will you be using this computer for the development of WMD"

Geez, it makes me want to buy a Dell server just so I can answer "Yes". Really.

I think we should ALL answer "Yes" to such inane questions. If pressed, all one would need is an alternative series of words for the initials "WMD".

Weary Minstrels of Derangement.
Why Mention Death.
We Must Defer.


# 2005.07.15, just before lunchtime

Hasbro should ask the same. Teddy Ruxpin chips were found on a number of landmines during the first gulf war….First, we just thought these people REALLY hate Teddy Ruxpin, maybe we're not so different after all…but on further investigation, Ruxpin had easily-programmable EEPROMs, so the Ruxpin chip was actually being repurposed as a controller for the explosives. They were jackin' overseas deliveries to get the Ruxpins.

That's actually where Santa got mugged so badly that first time, and one of the big reasons he won't fly back over those countries, which explains why christianity has a lower presence over there…because with no Christmas, what's the point?

btw, this is the only question Dell asks, per export regulations (you'll find similar on other tech vendor sites):
__ I WILL NOT export this order outside the United States.
__ I WILL export this order outside the United States.
The export of any product and software purchased from Dell must be made in accordance with all relevant laws of the United States, including and without limitation, the U.S. Export Administration Regulations. This may require that you obtain a formal export license or make certain declarations to the United States Government regarding product(s) to be exported, their destination or their end-use.


# 2005.07.15, around lunchtime

The correct answer would be to ask what is considered a WMD. To which he would probably cite some definition or give some examples.

After a long consideration you answer: No, I don't think the weapons I develop will fall within that definition. Yes, I'm almost sure they don't…


# 2005.07.15, around lunchtime

Encryption used to be classified as a munition and the export forms were correspondlingly ridiculous. Is that close enough to a WMD?

Bob Wiyadabebe-Iytsaboi

# 2005.07.15, around lunchtime

In attempting to buy a replacement CMOS battery for a Dell laptop, I was asked "What will you be using this part for?". They threw a fit when I insisted that I was going to brush my teeth with it. A more generic response of "Dental hygiene" also went unappreciated. Darn the man.



# 2005.07.15, mid-afternoon

Sounds to me like somebody at Dell staging a very subtle protest against the PATRIOT act, which doesn't require them to do any such thing.


# 2005.07.15, in the early evening

Isn't the right to use Dell servers to develop WMDs (including strong encryption) gauranteed by the 2nd amendment?


# 2005.07.15, in the late evening

“Will you be using this computer for the development of WMDs”

Pitty the poor purchassing agent for Los Alamos!

I guess I would have to say yes. I have mathematical models for nuclear weapons design, including explosive lenses. I also have a LOT of info on bio-chemical weapons and defence systems against them. All unclassified, a lot of the more interesting stuff from the government itself.

What the government doesn't like is when I give this info to veterans groups to help them win disability compensation for the effects of our weapons on our soldiers.

Terrorist IRS Thug

# 2005.07.16, just before lunchtime

I just called Dell and inquired about "the stupid question". First I told the rep that I heard of a nasty rumor that Dell asks the question posed at the beginning of this thread.

He initially responded by saying (paraphrasing) "Yes, federal law requires we ask if the customer will be exporting the machine countries outside of the US."
As you can see, he didn't answer my question directly, so it appears Dell reps have problems listening to simple questions. I had to repeat it to make it clear to him. He seemed more upset that I asked, and more intent on circumventing the question for some reason. He said "No, we don't ask that question, we only ask if it will be exported outside the U.S., and if it will be used for business or personal use."

As stated previously, these are the questions asked online:

__ I WILL NOT export this order outside the United States.
__ I WILL export this order outside the United States.

then the question is asked if it will be used for business or personal use. This information will be used by a terrorist organization (i'm not kidding) known as the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) as an indication that you may be running an unlicensed business in your locality, triggering an audit of your business.

If one day, the government does require its obediant corporate slaves to ask obviously silly questions, we can proceed to entertain ourselves by asking the obediant corporate slave follow up questions like, "Would a terrorist actually be truthful?".

As far as reading about real government conspiracies, try the truth behind the federal income tax, which has over 20 years of legal research to back it up, and unscrupulous responses by the government:

I've found that in the true definition of the word, the IRS really is practicing terrorism in the United States.

ter·ror·ism (

"The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

If you don't believe me, ask the thousands of plaintiffs (USDC Case # 04CV01211) that have filed suit against the U.S. government: []


# 2005.07.16, around lunchtime

"Security is an illusion.

Security is an illusion created by people who have an over-valued sense of their own self-worth" - D.H.Tabor 1995

To make any thing secure you have to make the cost of surruptitiously obtaining that object higher than the value of the object itself. This is why nuclear weapons are secure in the US and not in Russia.

This may not always be the case if our economy keeps going downhill. Of course, GWB can keep himself warm when we are all freezing to death by rubbing nuclear triggers together in the alternative reality the White House lives in. Just don't rub them too hard near Cheney. Might set off his defibrilator.



# 2005.07.17, at around evening time

What would bin Laden use a Dell server for? Even if he needs one, I don't think he'd by it through legitimate channels. Stupid Americans.

Stan MArsh

# 2005.07.18, mid-afternoon

The real question is: Why would anyone by a machine from Dell?


# 2005.07.20, in the early evening

Random Propaganda: Put the power of the computer market it where it belongs - with the consumers. I don't like this Stalinesque-representative form of gov't. How long before even the internet (which was created for the military) become national instead of the international sea of information it's supposed to be?

Vote No on that one measure, you know, the crappy one.
I'm Mike and I approve this message.


# 2005.07.20, in the early evening

The IBM clones should make their products for the interests of the consumers, thereby strengthening US markets for technology and weakening the ties of government to business, which, according to right wing philosophy, is against the rules.

Roland Ansgar

# 2005.07.24, in the early evening

This is why you should build your own computer every time. Takes more time, but no one can mess with you.


# 2005.07.27, mid-afternoon

On 7/26/05 purchased a very low end Dell desktop and was asked the same questions by the sales rep. I'm a true Mac girl–but I need to view web site designs on pc platform too.

I did tell him that I was a bit offended and bordering on outraged at the questions and wondered if they would sell me the computer if I refused to answer. Then said that I guess I couldn't tell him the truth that I was using it to build the "B" word, which I said I was sure I couldn't really say bomb just in case the call was being recorded–because I had plans and a visit by the FBI and/or Homeland Security would have made me late for dinner. The rep laughed and agreed with me that of course any self-respecting terrorist would tell the truth and give them a play-by-play of what they planned to do with their new computer.

If this is a new marketing strategy by Dell to gather info on their customers. Shame on them!

But here's the deal (No, I'm not a nut case): it starts out with a few simple questions that you answer because "hey, I'm not doing anything illegal, right?" and eventually evolves into someone gaining access to every aspect of your life.

Keeping track of law-abiding citizens stops the bad guys how?

Thanks for the chance to vent!


# 2005.08.10, around lunchtime

are you guys really that DUMB to get mad at SALES REPS?? thats their JOBS to ask that question if they dont ask it they dont get paid! blame the people implementing those rules not the sales reps! im sure 98% of the sales reps think its a stupid question too. lemme just tell you this, every one of you that calls in just asking a stupid question, that goes against the sales reps numbers. if you call in and we dont make that sale, that hurts our numbers for the whole day and we wont hit quota. you're calling into the SALES QUEUE which most people call to BUY SOMETHING. u wanna call and ask a question or complain call CUSTOMER CARE. IDIOTS!


# 2005.10.10, in the early evening

this is silly,
yes the government is overreaching with the patriot act
isnt it 'supposed' to be for our benefit in some skewed logic, yes.
dell always asks me 'where will these systems be used?'
i just tell them 'inside the U.S.'
and that fits their requirements that they say 'OK'
obviously its a farce to ask that anyone who might be involved in some terrorist group to tell the truth about exporting to some other country, but
it may stop some unsuspecting dupe who was contacted on ebay by someone who wants him to ship 15 of these to pakistan
pros and cons
idiocies and ideosyncratics


# 2005.10.18, at around evening time

move to canada.. from up here we will get a good view of the chaos and collapse ;) mind you we will probably get sucked down by the economic undertow… =b…


# 2005.11.18, mid-afternoon

The purpose of this machine:

To present a website that says:

"My name is Dan and I'll be your server today."


# 2005.11.19, in the late afternoon

we can not defend democracy abroad and abandon at home

but the war in iraq and afghanistan are dending democracy abroad while patriot act is abandoning it at home this lowers the bar for freedom

the usa is home of the free so if freedom is lost dimished it allows all other contrys to lower standerds to or below are own this is a global promblem first other western contrys like britin


in the end I dont want the us constitution or any foreign constitution to read somthing like this

all living human beens are people unless parliament rules other wise

all poeple have the freedom of speech unless other wise dictated by law all speech is protected unless other wise dictated by law

now this style of constitutional law would provide no protion are rights but the patriot act is worded no different some spots and if up held by the courts we could very well have a interpretation of the us constitution just like the sample I gave above


# 2005.12.16, around lunchtime

asking about intentions of any product is absurd on its face-no one will admit building a pipe bomb into a Dell Server. An a mentally deranged person couldn't get the cover off. Madam what is the intended use for this laptop? How about Plasma TVs or Surrond Systems? Everything is dangerous, in its own way!

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