Saturday, February 11, 2006

Memo To NBC, Re: Olympic Coverage.

  1. We want to see it live. We don't care if it's at 3AM or noon. I don't want to see highlights of events that feature Americans at 7PM. I want to see everything, and I want it live. I know you don't have that many networks, but you are filming the events, so put them on Digital Cable/Dish/Internet. Sure, show (live) the popular sports on the common channels. And sure, at 7PM Eastern (1AM in Turin), show packaged bits about Americans.
  2. I don't care about the hardship this athlete faced. If I want to know that, I'll look it up. As stated above, I want to see the competition, not 5-minute sappy-music-accompanied human interest fluff.

I'm sure I'll have more, I've only watched a few hours of the Olympics so far.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Security Problems with Controlled Access Systems

Schneier on Security: Security Problems with Controlled Access Systems

There was an interesting security tidbit in this article on last week's post office shooting:

The shooter's pass to access the facility had been expired, officials said, but she apparently used her knowledge of how security at the facility worked to gain entrance, following another vehicle in through the outer gate and getting other employees to open security doors.

This is a failure of both technology and procedure. The gate was configured to allow multiple vehicles to enter on only one person's authorization -- that's a technology failure. And people are programmed to be polite -- to hold the door for others.

SIDE NOTE: There is a common myth that workplace homicides are prevalent in the United States Postal Service. (Note the phrase "going postal.") But not counting this event, there has been less than one shooting fatality per year at Postal Service facilities over the last 20 years. As the USPS has more than 700,000 employees, this is a lower rate than the average workplace.

(Security Problems with Controlled Access Systems via Schneier on Security.)

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Risks of Losing Portable Devices

Schneier on Security: Risks of Losing Portable Devices

Last July I blogged about the risks of storing ever-larger amounts of data in ever-smaller devices.

Last week I wrote my tenth column on the topic:

The point is that it's now amazingly easy to lose an enormous amount of information. Twenty years ago, someone could break into my office and copy every customer file, every piece of correspondence, everything about my professional life. Today, all he has to do is steal my computer. Or my portable backup drive. Or my small stack of DVD backups. Furthermore, he could sneak into my office and copy all this data, and I'd never know it.

This problem isn't going away anytime soon.

There are two solutions that make sense. The first is to protect the data. Hard-disk encryption programs like PGP Disk allow you to encrypt individual files, folders or entire disk partitions. Several manufacturers market USB thumb drives with built-in encryption. Some PDA manufacturers are starting to add password protection -- not as good as encryption, but at least it's something -- to their devices, and there are some aftermarket PDA encryption programs.

The second solution is to remotely delete the data if the device is lost. This is still a new idea, but I believe it will gain traction in the corporate market. If you give an employee a BlackBerry for business use, you want to be able to wipe the device's memory if he loses it. And since the device is online all the time, it's a pretty easy feature to add.

But until these two solutions become ubiquitous, the best option is to pay attention and erase data. Delete old e-mails from your BlackBerry, SMSs from your cell phone and old data from your address books -- regularly. Find that call log and purge it once in a while. Don't store everything on your laptop, only the files you might actually need.

EDITED TO ADD (2/2): A Dutch army officer lost a memory stick with details of an Afgan mission.

(Risks of Losing Portable Devices via Schneier on Security.)

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