[Log In] []

Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management

Having an exciting destination is like setting a needle in your compass. From then on, the compass knows only one point-its ideal. And it will faithfully guide you there through the darkest nights and fiercest storms. — Daniel Boone

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Technology Moving Too Fast for Wiretapping?

Information Security
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, February 18, 2011
8:24 pm

Buffer

This post was triggered by a tweet from my son-in-law, Garry Bartle:

LOL! I doubt consumers, the tech industry, or more especially the criminal element want things slowed down just so the FBI can keep pace! RT @cnnbrk: FBI complains communication technology outpacing its ability to wiretap

imageCNN’s article, “Action needed to assure new technology can be wiretapped, FBI says” stated:

Rapid advances in communications are eroding police departments’ abilities to conduct wiretaps, and Congress needs to take steps to ensure that new telephone, computer and wireless systems are designed to allow lawful police access, FBI and police officials told Congress Thursday. …

At issue is the diminished capability of law enforcement agencies to conduct quick wiretaps in an age of Twitter accounts, Facebook and MySpace pages, BlackBerrys, Androids, iPhones and iPads. The Justice Department calls the phenomenon "going dark."

Well, it might be harder to place wiretaps, but I saw some technology from Cisco at the RSA Conference that sensed and interpreted Facebook traffic from mobile devices and automatically blocked content that violated company policy.  Maybe the FBI should touch base with Cisco.

Certainly, we want bad folks apprehended and punished, but there is ample evidence that the government has increased, rather than decreased surveillance over the past several years.  It just might not be the real crisis that is being portrayed.

My Twitter response to Garry?

@LittleG77 Garry … your message was just intercepted. Next … analysis and remediation. You’ve been had! (JK, but it could happen)

Technorati Tags: ,
 

Are You a Perfect Citizen? I Will Listen and Find Out.

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
9:47 pm

Buffer

The Wall Street Journal published an excellent article today entitled, “U.S. Program to Detect Cyber Attacks on Infrastructure” (subscription required),  reviewing a large U.S. government program, named “Perfect Citizen,” with the stated objective to:

“… detect cyber assaults on private U.S. companies and government agencies running critical infrastructure such as the electricity grid and nuclear power plants, according to people familiar with the program.”

image

We all know that the national infrastructure is vulnerable, as I mentioned recently in my blog about NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Cyber Security Standards. The object of this program appears to be an attempt to discover security holes that may not be CIP compliant, and detect patterns of attack before harm can be done.

U.S. intelligence officials have grown increasingly alarmed about what they believe to be Chinese and Russian surveillance of computer systems that control the electric grid and other U.S. infrastructure. Officials are unable to describe the full scope of the problem, however, because they have had limited ability to pull together all the private data.

How do you tackle this challenge?  Just monitor the network and find “unusual activity” that may suggest a pending cyber attack.

The surveillance by the National Security Agency, the government’s chief eavesdropping agency, would rely on a set of sensors deployed in computer networks for critical infrastructure that would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack, though it wouldn’t persistently monitor the whole system.

This accumulation and analysis of vast amounts of data from numerous sensors is a fascinating topic.  Last September, I blogged about work led by Jeff Jonas to analyze large data sets to detect the types of anomalies the NSA are seeking – all to catch threats to the Las Vegas gaming industry.  It would be interesting to know if the NSA is building upon his work to find terrorists before they strike.

Of course, any surveillance program led by the NSA is bound to be controversial, and this is no exception:

Some industry and government officials familiar with the program see Perfect Citizen as an intrusion by the NSA into domestic affairs, while others say it is an important program to combat an emerging security threat that only the NSA is equipped to provide.

Who knows … perhaps some day the NSA wizards might think my blogging efforts are a threat to national security and plant sensors to detect my email, blogging and social networking communications activity to see if something fishy is going on.   After all, I am not a “Perfect Citizen,” whatever that means.  No one is.

"The overall purpose of the [program] is our Government…feel[s] that they need to insure the Public Sector is doing all they can to secure Infrastructure critical to our National Security," said one internal Raytheon email, the text of which was seen by The Wall Street Journal. "Perfect Citizen is Big Brother."

It will be fascinating, in an apprehensive way, to see how this all comes together:

Because the program is still in the early stages, much remains to be worked out, such as which computer control systems will be monitored and how the data will be collected. NSA would likely start with the systems that have the most important security implications if attacked, such as electric, nuclear, and air-traffic-control systems, they said.

I doubt that covert surveillance of US citizens is the initial intent of this program, but unintended consequences are what trouble me.  For some diabolical reason, increasing the amount of power vested in any one person or group of people tends to lead to oppression of others.  And it sounds like this program will put vast informational power in the hands of a few.

 
 
 
 
 
Copyright © 2005-2013, Mark G. Dixon. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress.