An indictment of humanity's woeful security...

I read articles like this and I fume: Only hours after embarrassing the CIA by downing its website, hacking jokesters LulzSec have issued another self-declared indictment of the Internet's woeful security, leaking a database of 62,000 stolen...

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I read articles like this and I fume:

Only hours after embarrassing the CIA by downing its website, hacking jokesters LulzSec have issued another self-declared indictment of the Internet's woeful security, leaking a database of 62,000 stolen passwords and user names.

It's not the facts which depress me, but the way that the statement is framed.

Fact: the Internet does not have "woeful security", in the same way that mankind does not have "woeful security"; yes as human beings we are subject to disease and old age, we wage war upon each other, kill each other, deprive each other of liberty and exploit each other - but none of that is exactly "woeful security" because those are the darker aspects of being human.

There's nothing to be done about that other than for the lighter aspects of humanity to continue to resist the dark, and keep it in check long enough for progress to be made.

Were we instead all immortal, peaceful and perfectly immune to disease we would be merely exchanging one set of problems for another - overcrowding, resource management - and I can barely imagine what that would really be like.

Thus with Internet Security - when someone says "it's woeful" you must ask what would perfection entail?

  • No breaches of information? No whistleblowers.

  • No hacking tools? No debugging tools.

  • No inflammatory speech? No freedom of the press.

  • No pornography? No pornography - including, but not limited to, no breastfeeding advice.

How people shape their discussion of abstract concepts like "The Internet" does concretely affect how people attempt to regulate it; bad metaphors and bad context lead to bad regulation and bad action.

The security of the Internet is neither woeful nor good - the only applicable meaning of the word "security" to the Internet as a whole is much the same as it would mean for the "security of humanity" - viz: "does it have a future?"

If the author had written people do insist on deploying crappy websites which are trivially hackable, and their users do insist on reusing passwords in the face of all advice to the contrary - I would be perfectly happy with that.

But not the "The Internet".

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