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Schneier-Ranum Face-Off: Should we ban anonymity on the Internet?
This article is part of the Information Security magazine issue of January/February 2010
Point: Bruce Schneier Universal identification is portrayed by some as the holy grail of Internet security. Anonymity is bad, the argument goes; and if we abolish it, we can ensure only the proper people have access to their own information. We'll know who is sending us spam and who is trying to hack into corporate networks. And when there are massive denial-of-service attacks, such as those against Estonia or Georgia or South Korea, we'll know who was responsible and take action accordingly. The problem is that it won't work. Any design of the Internet must allow for anonymity. Universal identification is impossible. Even attribution -- knowing who is responsible for particular Internet packets -- is impossible. Attempting to build such a system is futile, and will only give criminals and hackers new ways to hide. Imagine a magic world in which every Internet packet could be traced to its origin. Even in this world, our Internet security problems wouldn't be solved. There's a huge gap between proving that a packet came from a ...
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Features in this issue
Massachusetts 201 CMR 17.00 and Nevada's data protection law establish new standards for personal data protection
Learn how endpoint data loss prevention technology complements network DLP and secures data that users interact with on laptops, mobile and portable storage devices.
Secure coding and vulnerability scanning could mitigate many Web application attacks
Columns in this issue
IT and security managers often make the mistake of being consumed with a specific risk or threat to the detriment of security
Security experts Bruce Schneier and Marcus Ranum debate the possibility of eliminating anonymity on the Internet.
China's hacker attacks against Google's infrastructure, including Gmail accounts of human rights activists as well as Google's source code, should be used to educate enterprises about the reality of cyberespionage from nation states and organized criminals.