Computer security isn't attainable
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Thread: Computer security isn't attainable

  1. #1
    AO Curmudgeon rcgreen's Avatar
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    Computer security isn't attainable

    Computer security isn't attainable. It isn't even desirable. Not if you accept
    any of the extreme definitions of security now circulating among the
    Machiavellian leaders of the software industry.

    Security for whom? Security from whom?

    If you are a regular computer hobbyist, who likes to surf the net, you may have
    already assumed that your own definition of security is shared by the experts
    movers and shakers, and you would be wrong. You think security is a way of
    protecting your box from malicious dudes out there who want to mess with
    you. The "initiated cognoscenti" of the industry want to protect the net
    from you.

    They want to protect their "intellectual property", their "investments",
    their "data" from leaking out to the common unwashed and ignorant masses.

    Most "true" security is intended to protect the system from the user.

    What is this BS about unix being "insecure" because of the existence of
    the dreaded "root" account. The only possible reason someone could
    say such a thing is if he was born on a different planet than the one I
    come from. On his planet, humans cannot be trusted, and therefore
    cannot be trusted to log in as root. The issue isn't so much that
    some malicious outsider might be able to illegitimately gain root access.
    No, the thing that bothers them is that I want to log in as root on
    my own machine. That is my heinous crime, that I will not surrender
    control over to a "secure" OS that will not permit me to modify or change
    the system, because the authors of that system do not trust me.

    I should be prevented from deleting my system logs, because those logs
    can testify against me; because no admin would ever have a "legitimate"
    reason to "tamper" with the logs. Never mind the fact that it was
    supposed to be my computer that I paid for with my own money.

    The "need to know"

    Computer security, to the experts, is a lot like the Military chain of
    command, with its strict rationing of knowledge based on the "need to know."
    If your orders are to lead your men up that hill and die for your country,
    you don't "need to know" anything beyond the present operation, especially
    about over all strategy. If you are captured, you will be unable to reveal
    anything to the enemy about the battle plan. You only know your own
    orders, but no one else's.

    A "free" society

    The usual flame wars here on Antionline (the ones on linux v. windows) always
    include those who insist that the "facts" dictate a certain type of security
    policy (mandatory access controls), and that those who feel threatened by
    that are just "ignorant". The real debate over security isn't about "facts"
    at all, but about philosophy. Once you accept the argument that security
    is all about "protecting the system from the users", it's all inexorable
    logic from there on. None of us can be trusted, so we must be relegated
    to the sandbox.

    What are you doing, Dave?

    Once upon a time, Sci-Fi authors feared computers. They created stories
    like 2001 A Space Odyssey, because back then there was only one philosophical
    model governing Computer Science, and it was threatening to free-thinking
    people. A computer was a massive monolith run by arrogant engineers who
    loved to lecture us about "garbage in-garbage out", which is to say that
    "Computers don't make mistakes, only humans do"

    In Dave's epic battle with HAL, he had to literally climb inside the hardware
    and do some creative hacking to save himself from the perfect computer
    with the "secure operating system", because it was explicitly designed
    to prevent unauthorized tampering.

    An alternative Philosophy

    Introduction of the microcomputer brought with it an alternative philosophy
    of computing. Today we have all sorts of smart gadgets because computing
    power has been decentralized and distributed wherever you can put a microprocessor.
    I'm surprised they haven't put a microprocesor into a claw hammer.
    With your own computer, you are armed against the authoritarian advocates
    of a regimented "access controlled" future. But the devils won't stay dead. They
    just keep coming back in different disguises.

    The Net Is The Computer

    The latest twist on this assault is the idea that the internet has evolved into
    a single computing entity, and your box is merely a "thin client" logging on to
    the monolith. The real resources are on "the system", and you are only "permitted"
    to participate if you behave properly. Some big players (and M'Soft isn't the
    only one) want to seize control of the Net by dominating the setting of
    standards and protocols to their own advantage. The net could then truly
    evolve into a HAL9000.

    Who's in charge?

    As much as I hate to say it, there's a good reason why business and accounting
    people, rather than engineers and technicians, are in charge of businesses.
    There are also good reasons why civilians have authority over the military.
    Likewise, users, rather than Computer science graduates, should decide
    broad concepts of computer security policy. Technical demands may seem compelling,
    but they should not shove moral and political considerations aside, lest we all find
    ourselves fighting HAL for our lives.
    I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.

  2. #2
    Macht Nicht Aus moxnix's Avatar
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    Heh heh heh, I would say you are being a little over paranoid.....except I agree with most, if not all, of what you said.

    I hate intrusive programs that want to tell me what to do. Or start on their own and usually a boot up, not caring if you want them to or not. Thats one of the things that turn me off about Nortons. Not only is it very intrusive, but it can be a real bear to uninstall. Yahoo messenger and its attendant programs is another I dislike, although with a little work you can disable most of it ( and yes I do have yahoo messenger, but a very scaled back version). Yahoo doesn't give you the option to install only part of the package that you want. Its all or nothing, and then you have to go back through it and uninstall the parts you don't want. It should give you the option of installing just the parts you want.

    I run Windows XP, but I wish you didn't have to take the whole package ( I guess with XPLight that you can now trim Windows down to a minimum size). I would love to have an easy way to take out Internet Explorer, without harming the OP system, but the best I can do for now is make Firefox my default browser and regulat IE to dead space on my HD.

    It seems that now days, everyone is trying to regulate what you use and how you use it.....from the big guys to the small fry.
    \"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO - What a Ride!\"
    Author Unknown

  3. #3
    Ninja Code Monkey
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    I fail to see how this warrants the greens or the place in the tutorials section. There is a better place for this...
    "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." - Erasmus
    "There is no programming language, no matter how structured, that will prevent programmers from writing bad programs." - L. Flon
    "Mischief my ass, you are an unethical moron." - chsh
    Blog of X

  4. #4
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    I'm sorry but I don't see how this is a tutorial. As such, I've moved it to Misc Security as it does have security discussion value but as a tutorial, by definition, I don't see it.
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
    Extra! Extra! Get your FREE copy of Insight Newsletter||MsMittens' HomePage

  5. #5
    Banned
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    You are aware of how much of a good portion of attacks have come from an insider or half-wit users who propogate malware without even knowing or caring. I don't even let my own family, my own mother and father, enable the clipboard or install new software... hell, and thats just with the few computers they own, none of them are even mine. Its not that I don't trust them... its just that I've fixed things where in normal situations I would be paid for that type of thing. Anyone who would let adware sit around for years at a time is below me... and I will feel free to treat them as they truely are... pre-litterate, degenerate, barbarians.

    I hate intrusive programs that want to tell me what to do. Or start on their own and usually a boot up, not caring if you want them to or not. Thats one of the things that turn me off about Nortons. Not only is it very intrusive, but it can be a real bear to uninstall. Yahoo messenger and its attendant programs is another I dislike, although with a little work you can disable most of it ( and yes I do have yahoo messenger, but a very scaled back version). Yahoo doesn't give you the option to install only part of the package that you want. Its all or nothing, and then you have to go back through it and uninstall the parts you don't want. It should give you the option of installing just the parts you want.
    Now see, now this is the type of thing that is so funny about this thread... blame the computer, blame the software, blame the world, blame the man, blame the companies owned by the man, never to say to yourself "what an idiot I am".

    Sure, its not your fault your having trouble pointing and clicking... it's the giant statues fault. You know, the talking and glowing statue everyone worships, right? Ahhhh yeah, Incompetence is bliss

  6. #6
    Macht Nicht Aus moxnix's Avatar
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    Ah ha, but TheSpecialist, I am not blaming anyone....I am just saying I don't like certain intrusive programs and won't run them if I can not modify them to suit my tastes. I will not use a lot of different programs that you might because I feel they are too intrusive and I can't mod them down to where I feel comfortable with them.

    Thats my preference......their preference is to bring out a program that I can't mod the way I want so that I won't run it.
    \"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO - What a Ride!\"
    Author Unknown

  7. #7
    AO Curmudgeon rcgreen's Avatar
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    I'm not worried so much about software that exists today, although
    some is evil, but the direction we could be going. A "secure"
    OS, in some people's definition, is one that cannot be modified by
    anyone.
    I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.

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