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September 2006

Face-off

Marcus Ranum Point In February, Dubai Ports World tried to buy several major U.S. ports from their British owner, but the deal was scotched over concerns Arabs might not keep them adequately secure. Never mind the U.S. couldn't keep them adequately secure. Fast-forward a few months and Israel-based Check Point Software Technologies tries to buy U.S.-based intrusion detection systems provider Sourcefire, but the deal is quashed over aftershocks from the Dubai Ports fiasco. Never mind that U.S. government agencies can't keep their networks sufficiently secure to begin with; questions were raised as to whether Check Point should control a piece of software that is widely used in U.S. government networks. Is there such a thing as "strategic software?" Of course there is. But a better question to ask would be: "Hasn't the horse already left the barn on that issue?" The truth is, if your software controls your computer (and it does), then the person who writes the software also controls your computer. Does that have strategic ...

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