Be on the wave or under it™
The News – 09/18/01
Freedom and Security Coexist?
heart, like every American’s, is broken due to the horrific acts of a few
fanatics a week ago. Commentators are fond of saying nothing will ever be the
same again, but I hope that’s not true. Nonetheless, there are elements in the
government that are trying to make some pretty important things change. Things
like freedom. Attorney General John Ashcroft wants sweeping new wiretap powers
that would essentially allow the government to eavesdrop on any conversation
anywhere as long as they have a “reasonable” expectation that a suspected
criminal is involved in the conversation. Rather than wiretaps being associated
with a particular telephone, Ashcroft wants them to be associated with the
suspect. While I agree police need more freedom to intercept communications in
this age of disposable cell phones, I worry that the Feds will end up listening
to a lot of conversations that don’t involve the suspects in question. What
happens if they turn up evidence of other wrongdoing as a result?
I’m sick to death of the usual response I get when I bring up potential threats
to freedom like this. The average person responds, “I’ve got nothing to hide,
so I don’t care if the authorities can [wiretap my house, search it without a
warrant, confiscate my nail clippers at the airport, read all my email, know
whenever I travel on the tollway, and so on]. My usual response is to point out
that the listener is not a criminal, yet. Until recently, it wasn’t a crime to
post a link on your Web page to a site that hosted software to break copy
protection schemes. Today it is a crime. So you’re not a criminal now, but in
the future you could be criminalized.
company that stands to make a lot of money over the hysteria over airport
security is Visionics, a maker
of face-recognition equipment and other security products that use biometrics
-- the identification of people through physical characteristics. Visionics shares
soared 93 percent when trading resumed Monday. The upside of biometrics like
this: You no longer will need to show your ID at airline check-in. The
downside: It will be impossible to disappear into the crowd; the government can
always know where you are. They’ll track you at the mall,
at the ball game, at the 7-11.
we use all this technology to destroy the vestiges of privacy and freedom we
have today, we must remember what we believe in. “We can very well accomplish
ourselves what the terrorists couldn't do on their own: Destroy the United
States as we know it,” said Lauren Weinstein, moderator of an online privacy
forum hosted by Vortex and
supported by the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). “Even if we don' t
tear the Constitution up explicitly, we can do it one piece at a time.”
bottom line is: You can’t take the risk out of life. You shouldn’t live with
restricted freedom, cowering in your armored house, tracked by cameras as you
walk the dog, just because you can’t be absolutely sure some terrorist isn’t
going to strike the building you work in or the church you attend or the Dairy
Queen stand on the corner. The only way to stop terror is to stop terrorists.
Any fanatic with a death wish can find a way to commit a crime, no matter what
steps we take. We can outlaw high rises, scatter everyone out into the country,
stop flying or traveling at all, live in bunkers, and they still will find a
way. Our only hope is to remove terrorists, and not by violence, which will
beget more terrorists.
need to make US policy follow the American heart, which believes America to be benevolent
and caring. Our policy toward the Arab world is not benevolent and caring. It
is based on ensuring the free flow of oil at reasonable prices, and it will
stop at nothing to accomplish this goal. Make our policy reflect the goodness
of our people and you’ll see a decrease in the number of terrorists. Continue
US foreign policy by striking back, and a dozen militants will spring up to replace
each terrorist brought to justice. Continue taking away Americans’ freedoms and
encouraging an atmosphere of electronic surveillance, fear, and insecurity, and we'll never be
secure against that amplified threat.
can help make it easier to change our foreign policy by helping reduce our
dependence on oil. In this effort, new technologies can save us. If your
business maintains a fleet of vehicles, look into converting them to natural
gas, electric, or fuel cell power. If you run refrigerated trucks, consider
insulating them with high tech Vacuum Insulating Panels
(VIP), which have 30 times more insulating power than conventional materials. If you rent office
space, look into converting or moving to a Green
Building. If you’re building a house, consider making it a Green Building also, perhaps powered by a fuel cell. Ride a bike. Get
an electric car. Turn down (or up) the
thermostat. Keep on the lookout for new
energy saving ideas.
the most important, and most low-tech solution: Love our enemies. Love them
into submission. Make all the lives taken in this tragedy mean something: a
freer, more compassionate, safer world, not an armed madhouse filled with
freedom-sapping technologies and random acts of terrorism. That’s the only way
freedom and security can coexist in the post-tragedy world. It’s our choice.
Self-Promotion Dept.: CFO
Magazine quoted me for a story they ran on the SirCam worm and
peer-to-peer networks. Like most media contacts, I said a great many
brilliant, insightful, impactful things, but they only used two quotes.
It’s online now, but I don’t think it gets into print until next month.
- MS Passport
Cracked, Already: It
had to happen sooner or later: The security that is supposed to keep your
private information secret in Microsoft’s Passport has been cracked, at
least if you use Windows 9x or ME. Hmmm. Wait a minute. That provides a
powerful reason to upgrade to Windows XP or 2000, doesn’t it? Coincidence?
hum. Another Microsoft-Caused Catastrophic Virus: Today a new mass-emailing
worm, known as W32.Nimda.A@mm, has started infecting the crackers’
favorite target, Microsoft IIS Web servers. The worm utilizes multiple
methods to spread itself using the Unicode Web Traversal exploit. The worm
sends itself out by email, searches for open network shares, and attempts
to copy itself to unpatched IIS Web servers. A patch has been available to
fix the vulnerability for almost a year, but, typically, many IIS
administrators haven’t applied it. Users visiting compromised Web servers
will be prompted to download an .EML (Outlook Express) email file, which
contains the worm as an attachment. Also, the worm will create an open
network share on the infected machine allowing access to the system. Windows
doesn’t belong on the Internet.
- Cracker Cracks Islamist Extremist Web Site: Saturday, a cracker using the
alias "Anonyme Feigling ("Anonymous Coward") cracked a
German-based Islamist Web site, and published more than 500 e-mail
addresses of its mailing list subscribers on the Swiss news site www.symlink.ch. Included was an address
belonging to a suspect in last week's terrorist attack on the World Trade
Center in New York. The site, www.qoqaz.de, is now offline, but an
English-language mirror, www.qoqaz.co.uk,
is still accessible. Is this a case of ethical cracking? Anonymous Coward
thinks so: “This site has called for holy war. For me the site is just as
acceptable as a site that wants to recruit Nazis for the Fourth Reich.
Whoever subscribes to such a list knows exactly what he's doing.” OK, but
what if you blow the cover of a double agent infiltrating the
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