April 24, 2019

.comment: My Semi-Annual Security Rant - page 3

Orwell Was Right

  • June 6, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

The above are merely a handful of things that I've noted in the last couple of weeks. They're intentionally outside of the computer security concerns to which we devote a lot of time and discussion. That's because I think there's a tendency for us to develop tunnel vision, to presume that as long as our computers are buttoned up our lives are secure. And not even that is true -- an anonymous tip will practically guarantee that the constabulary will descend on your home or place of business and seize, among other things, your computing equipment. They will see everything that's on it -- which probably would be extremely boring, but would you be eager to learn the ways in which your hard drive contents could be misconstrued and misstated in a courtroom or on the evening news? Heaven help you if you have a kid who happens one night to type "I hate school" in an AOL chatroom window.

It's not that computing security is unimportant, because it is. Instead, it's that if we don't pay attention to the pokes and prods into other areas of our lives, and be as vigilant and vociferous in dealing with them, we're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I've thought for some time now that we're entering the bread and circuses phase of Western Civilization. That's the end part, the part in which a fat and happy civilization gives up its freedoms in exchange for conveniences, the societal difference between opening your own email attachments or having them opened automatically with all the trouble that brings. We worry about it with our computers, but we oughtn't ignore it elsewhere, if things like privacy matter as much to us as we're forever bellowing that they do.

Something to think about, anyway.

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