CAL­I­BRE

Tech­nol­ogy is be­ing stymied by hu­man­ity. We are at a moral cross­road right now

Augustman - - Contents -

BY THE TIME THIS AR­TI­CLE IS OUT, Judge­ment Day would al­ready have oc­curred. And by Judge­ment Day, I’m re­fer­ring to the Cal­i­for­nia Dis­trict Court’s rul­ing on the court or­der de­mand­ing Ap­ple de­velop a buggy ver­sion of iOS that will al­low it to ac­cess data on a phone be­long­ing to the San Bernardino shoot­ers. Not that iOS doesn’t have bugs, but cer­tainly not some back­door that will al­low the firm no holds barred ac­cess to ev­ery­thing on your phone. The good news is, that means your nude self­ies are se­cure, even from Ap­ple. The bad news is, we’ve fi­nally reached a point in tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment where Mankind is now try­ing to take tech­nol­ogy two steps back, in the name of se­cu­rity. The world is at risk from a 4.7-inch block of metal and plas­tic with a bit of cir­cuitry in it.

Last year, we talked to a few tech ex­perts about the key is­sues that the world would be fac­ing, and one that kept pop­ping up was se­cu­rity. Not only in the phys­i­cal sense, which is lit­er­ally why the FBI wants to ac­cess the phone’s data, but tech se­cu­rity.

It isn’t just Ap­ple that is cham­pi­oning data se­cu­rity. Keygo, a Sin­ga­pore-based startup which was con­ceived by Jamey Merkel, has dou­ble en­crypted data which only the sub­scriber can un­lock. Like­wise, Tele­gram’s en­crypted chats are con­sid­ered to be the most se­cure in the world. For the hoi pol­loi, data se­cu­rity is im­por­tant. Cor­po­rate es­pi­onage can kiss good­bye to easy ac­cess to data. But for in­tel­li­gence or­gan­i­sa­tions around the world, , it’s an eff­ing night­mare.

Given our so­ci­ety’s McDon­alds-sized ap­petite for data, and the “bet­ter be safe than sorry” (a.k.a ki­asu) at­ti­tudes of most se­cu­rity agen­cies, it’s no sur­prise that data an­a­lysts are in high de­mand in these in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions to­day. Some­one has to sift through the end­less reams of in­for­ma­tion, look for trig­gers and fig­ure out which ones are valid and ac­tion­able, and which ones are hot air trans­lated into bits of in­for­ma­tion. With their over-pro­tec­c­tive at­ti­tudes (take for ex­am­ple the Egyp­tian stu­dent in the US who made a Face­book threat against Trump and is now be­ing asked to leave the coun­try af­ter be­ing ex­pelled from his school, one won­ders if the re­ac­tion would have been the same if the state­ment was made by an Amer­i­can) to­wards per­ceived threats, sourc­ing in­for­ma­tion has to be a pri­or­ity.

That’s when the data para­noia be­gins. In fact, I fre­quently won­der how of­ten I must ap­pear on the radar of some in­tel­li­gence group given the sort of work I do. Each day, we mount end­less searches on all sorts of in­for­ma­tion from crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions to ques­tion­able dress­ing. Surely once in a while, the queries must trig­ger some­thing in a database. It does beget the big ques­tion: just how much in­for­ma­tion is there on you out there in the World Wide Web?

What are your op­tions? You can hire one of those ex­perts to clear out your data banks and rid all ev­i­dence that you ex­isted on the In­ter­net, or just own up to it. That five sec­onds of pain will be go much quicker than if it pops up on some IT au­dit later. But here’s our sug­ges­tion: don’t watch porn on the com­pany lap­top, take the five sec­onds to wipe your data caches weekly and try not to use your credit card on­line. Cash and Paypal works won­ders. En­joy.

I fre­quently won­der how of­ten I must ap­pear on the radar of some in­tel­li­gence group given the work I do

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