Monday, July 27, 2009

Information Security

Some random thoughts I wanted to set down about information security in the light of the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas:

Maybe information security is obsolete. People spout off information constantly. Listen in for five minutes at Starbucks while they yammer on their cell phone and you have their kids' names (and probably part of most of their passwords.) Make a J. Smith account at Facebook and add them, and you'll know their schedules, including when they leave for vacations. Information should not be what guards the gates to what we're really trying to protect - bank accounts, jobs, lives, etc. The more you make it the key to something, the more it gets targeted. The more you safeguard it, the more targets there are left out. There are too many thieves and too many easy ways to steal information. So far the key component has always been that - information, but in this overloaded age, it's not profitable to have to sift through information. If it was out there, then there wouldn't be this unfounded sense of complacency.
But how to protect what's important without resorting to passwords, PINs, etc? RSA uses a combination of private and public to make their keys impenetrable to most yet useful. How could we do this? DNA recognition? Fingerprinting?
The simplest way is to bring it back down to people. People are the ultimate in facial and voice recognition. It used to be common to arrange introductions. Problem is, people can be corrupted. People are sometimes less than competent on bad days.
Hiding in plain sight. The army of regular transactions that banks watch for anomalies. Perhaps giving people more vigilance over their transactions - no, that's been tried. People get bored of monotony. They forget or get busy.
It's troubling. There's got to be a way to make the information unguarded, and the important things still guarded.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where's the instruction manual?

It's a beautiful Southern California night. It's almost worth the searing summer day just to be able to sit outside, a breeze blowing the cool night air, and listen to the airplanes fly overhead. The helicopters are annoying as hell, but tonight they seem to be on hiatus for the most part.
I'm two weeks away from changing my life. I've had to make decisions on my own and hope they were the best. People are moving out of my life. More will move in but for me everytime I love someone, the world gets a little smaller. I'm never able to open up quite as much again. I guess that's how it goes.
Here's to a quiet night marking the start of drastic change.

Monday, July 13, 2009

TV Tropes will Ruin Your Life!

I got my title from an actual page on TV Tropes. Before I link to it though, here is an excellent warning cartoon from Randall Munroe at XKCD:

And now the title:

Don't say I didn't warn you! (damn, I just got sucked back in...*click*)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Living (or dead) symbols

I'm sure everyone has heard about the memorial for Michael Jackson drawing so much international attention that they've had to resort to a lottery in order to distribute a limited number of tickets. This isn't the level of fame that most singers or performers achieve. This is epic levels of adoration - and for a man that a year ago was considered a bit of a joke and probably a pedophile.
The truth of it is that Michael Jackson, even while alive, was no longer a human to most people. He had reached the point where people didn't think of him as a person with needs, but as a flag, a banner that united them with music. Something a coworker told me today triggered this - she said that he begged for anesthesia from doctors just to feel at peace, and that they're looking into that as a trigger for his death. What price do we extract from those who are our symbols?
True fame is the transcendence of even being human and becoming a symbol. Look at Elvis - he wasn't the greatest singer ever or the best performer - but he was the symbol of those things, of sexual revolution, of something different in the merging of the white South and black music.
Once we lose those symbols, we mourn heavily. Perhaps now is the time to look past that though - to look at the toll it takes upon the people we turn into symbols and wonder if the cost is too high for those who must pay it.

I wrote this a few days ago and happened across an article on the Huffington Post that I think describes this as well. Here's the link: