Saturday, June 13, 2009

Security or Privacy, That is The Question.

I talked to a close friend this week who works for a sensitive homeland security related research institute on the East Coast. The "security guys" have put software and protection on all the computers used in this organization. The computers are now practically worthless because to get a high level of security the system slows down to turtle speed thus making it almost useless.

You have probably tried using Microsoft Vista. One (of many) reasons its such a bad operating system is that they tried to compensate for the Swiss-cheese-like security problems in previous Windows systems.

Now comes another and vitally needed effort to lock down cyber security. Here are some comments from the article from the NY Times.

Privacy May Be a Victim in Cyberdefense Plan

June 12, 2009
WASHINGTON — A plan to create a new Pentagon cybercommand is raising significant privacy and diplomatic concerns, as the Obama administration moves ahead on efforts to protect the nation from cyberattack and to prepare for possible offensive operations against adversaries’ computer networks.

As with trying to identify terrorists through the Patriot Act, cyber security cannot be easily separated into "domestic" and "foreign" the way we have traditionally allocated legitimate areas of activity for the military and the CIA.

" ... foreign adversaries often mount their attacks through computer network hubs inside the United States, and military officials and outside experts say that threat confronts the Pentagon and the administration with difficult questions. Military officials say there may be a need to intercept and examine some e-mail messages sent from other countries to guard against computer viruses or potential terrorist action. Advocates say the process could ultimately be accepted as the digital equivalent of customs inspections, in which passengers arriving from overseas consent to have their luggage opened for security, tax and health reasons."

So we now once again face that hard choice of giving up some privacy for security or holding tight on our right not to be snooped on by the government but open ourselves to the risk and certainty of cyber-attacks against our personal identities as well as against civilian and government facilities.

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