North American Network Operators Group|
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If you have nothing to hide
Mr. Clarke has been floating several trail ballons this week. http://news.com.com/2100-1001-947409.html "Software makers and Internet service providers must share the blame for the nation's vulnerable networks, President Bush's special adviser on cyberspace security said Wednesday." http://www.computerworld.com/mobiletopics/mobile/story/0,10801,73150,00.html "Why is it that companies have sold products that they know are insecure?" asked Richard Clarke, President Bush's chief cybersecurity adviser. "And why is it that people have bought them? We should all shut [wireless LANs] off until the technology gets better." While Mr. Clarke was identifying groups to blame for the current state of affairs, he seems to have left out the group which has historically blocked many security improvements. Gee, it seems like just last year the US Government had a policy of futzing with international standards development to block strong security (GSM), engaging in expensive legal investigations of people who wrote things like Pretty Good Privacy, prohibiting companies from exporting products with strong encryption, and generally making it a PITA for companies who wanted to make products which were more secure (forcing security research offshore or to Canada). Even attempts to include default encryption in IPv6 hit government policy roadblocks. Anyone who tried to make it more difficult to intercept communications was accused of helping child pornographers, criminals, terrorists and hackers. The refrain was if you have nothing to hide, ... It took decades of government policy to reach this point. Does Mr. Clarke's statement signal the end of the government's policy of maintaining the status quo? If we secure wireless communications, that means it will be possible for people to communicate without worrying (excesively) about evesdroppers. But that security improvement also means the government may not be able to listen in on those communications either. Has the FBI and NSA signed off on this apparent new policy of securing our networks? Finally, what role should network operators play in determining what content subscribers can have access, including "unsafe" content? "ISPs to step up Internet service providers also have to be more security conscious, Clarke said. By selling broadband connectivity to home users without making security a priority, telecommunications companies, cable providers and ISPs have not only opened the nation's homes to attack, but also created a host of computers with fast connections that have hardly any security." Public network operators are very security conscious, about the public network operators network. Should public network operators do things, common in private corporate networks, such as block access to Hotmail, Instant Messenger, Peer-to-peer file sharing, and other potentially risky activities? Should it be official government policy for public network operators to prohibit customers from running their own servers by blocking access with firewalls?