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May 2007

Bruce Schneier and Marcus Ranum debate whether a 'Big Brother' watches today's information society

Marcus Ranum Point A lot of my security practitioner buddies are always keeping their ears to the ground for the distant tread of jackboots and their eyes peeled for other signs of the incipient arrival of Big Brother. Now, these are smart, well-educated people--no questions there--but you need to keep things realistic before you break out the tinfoil hat. Take, for example, RFID. A lot of people (including you, Bruce) are wringing their hands about the potential that bad guys will be able to RFID-snoop our passports and learn our private information. Or maybe that Big Brother will be able to track our whereabouts once we're RFID-tagged. Since you're always talking about weighing risks, let's be realistic for a moment: What's the likelihood your private information is going to get leaked to an RFID sniffer, as opposed to being left on one of the plethora of laptops that federal agency employees appear to lose every week? What's the likelihood Big Brother is going to track you using RFID, versus the likelihood that every hotel is...

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Features in this issue

  • Intellectual property protection do's and don'ts

    Theft of intellectual property is a growing problem but many companies are not prepared to deal with this security threat. Learn about the risk involved with trade secrets, why companies are failing to protect intellectual property and tips for data protection, including risk assessment, encryption, and corporate governance.

  • Product review: Watchfire's AppScan 7.0

    Product review of Watchfire's AppScan 7.0, an application security testing tool for developers, quality assurance teams and penetration testers. The security product runs on Windows XP, Vista or 2003 Server.

  • Bit9 Parity product review for endpoint security

    Product review of Bit9's Parity 3.5, a PC security tool designed to give enterprises control over what users can do on company computers and prevent executables in malware from running on desktops. Automatically installs SQL Server 2005 and Apache Web Server, which is used for remote administration.

Columns in this issue

  • Hacker demonstrates targeted attack

    Hacker Robert Hansen, also known as RSnake, demonstrates the pains cybercriminals take to target specific organizations and individuals through an exercise posted on his blog, which targeted the head of Google's spam team. Hansen's exercise underscores the threat companies face from today's organized and patient cybercriminals.

  • Fight cybercrime by understanding a hacker's mind and attack motive

    Computer crime laws and security policies aren't enough to combat increasingly sophisticated cybercrime. Understanding the criminal mind and a hacker's motive can help an organization determine what assets are most valuable and better distribute security resources.

  • Interview: PayPal CISO Michael Barrett

    PayPal's 133 million online customers are the biggest ocean for phishers to plunder. CISO Michael Barrett wants to make it safe to be in the water, and he's not going at it alone. Backed by PayPal's sophisticated fraud models and help from ISPs, Barrett is succeeding in protecting the most-spoofed brand on the Internet.

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