…the wanderings

100 Percent CAT

The morning article on CAT 2010 results declared a “cent per cent” marks result. This was something that needed a second glance. Not to wonder about abilities of Ankit Garg or his percentile-band-mates to reach there, but the scoring system itself that declared someone had reach a full score — a cent-per-cent, total 100! Or, maybe doubt secondary articles that reflect these results to the people.

I quote from a couple of articles that sample what you are probably reading today morning.

The CAT is out of the bag, and Ankit Garg is rolling in the satin. The 21-year-old from Chandigarh is among the rarest of the rare who landed cent per cent marks in the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2010, the entrance exam to India’s elite B-schools, including the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).

City lad Ankit Garg brought laurels to Chandigarh by scoring 100 percentile in the Common Aptitude Test (CAT). The result was declared on Sunday.

An examination system (and many a school exams will qualify to be quoted here) is not good enough if students score a 100. That is a reference point never to be touched. Just like your car has a 220 Kmph mark on the odometer and your music system has a 100-percent setting on the volume knob but you don’t go there (remember that old Michael Jackson video showing a volume knob with “Are you Nuts?”). When you need to touch that maximum number it means you need better technology. Likewise, if you see an examination being ‘cracked’ by someone with a 100 percent score, you need to upgrade the examination (of course laud the cracker too).

All this does not sound right for CAT, they should know this already. CAT scores are not disclosed, its the percentile that is declared. The result is therefore normalized within 1 and 99 percentile (not 100 as many would like to say).

How does one then interpret the Economic Times and the Indian Express articles? A “cent per cent” or “scoring 100 percentile” is actually to be (safely) taken as a 99 percentile score.

Congratulations to Ankit Garg, Vivek Gupta and the top-band scorers of CAT 2010. May you live in interesting times where our media can describe your achivements better.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | writing | , , , | 1 Comment

The White Botnet

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to reality is entirely unexpected. All similarities (like pigs can fly) are coincidental. Of course, all trademark names used here (starting right from the next line) are property of their owners.

As the first quarter of 2009 ended people had mixed feelings about the Conficker worm (aka Downadup, Kido). It was simultaneously not a joke or an immediate disaster. But, very few knew that this was a beta run of what would eventually be a White Hat vulnerability-patching network. It was clear that the botnet could only hit systems that were not patched for a long known vulnerability. The infection smartly started protecting the systems it conquered and made them safe from further malware. It moved on to become a server of protection that located other weak hosts and propagated towards them in a race against other malware.

The Microsoft Windows machines that are not patched against known attack vectors are usually because of pirated software or Overworked IT Administrators. Is that a good enough reason for malware to propagate towards unprepared legal users? That is where the Open Group came together to build a distributed protection system. This system had to work as a secondary solution in tandem with the existing anti-virus and anti-spyware securities. It had to be disconnected and, by that reason, at crossroads with these solutions.

The solution is to propagate a neutralizing white-botnet across the Internet. It is maintained by a group that partly consists of people from the AV/AS, OS vendors and search engine companies; though most of these vendors are themselves not yet directly associated with it. Google has tweaked its search algorithms to locate and assimilate zero-day vulnerability information quickly. These public postings are verified (coz, they might be poisoned) and associated patches are pushed through the white botnet to manage the ‘compromised’ machines. The window of attack reduces again to the time a patch is found for a zero-day exploit. All hosts will be patched one-way or the other.

…and pigs will fly!

April 20, 2009 Posted by | writing | , , | 2 Comments