Big Brother - Or Not, make up your mind.

  LastChip 15:53 24 Apr 2005

Whilst researching some security issues, as is often the case whilst on the Internet, I came across a paper by Professor Ross Anderson, who is Professor of Security Engineering at Cambridge University.

The original research I was interested in, related to Linux v Windows security and to a degree, this paper answers some of those questions, but as you read through it, moves on to Trustworthy Computing and the implications of it's acceptance.

As with all good things, the paper takes some reading (it's not a five minute ponder!). Ignore the equations, (unless you're a mathematical genius), as although they prove a concept, do not detract from the thrust of the paper.

You will need Acrobat or similar as it's a PDF document to read it.

click here to explore this critical development from one of the world's leading experts on computer security and if like me, you value your freedom of choice, consider whether you want this development at all.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 16:39 24 Apr 2005

I don't think that it will affect my printing of the village 'Summer Fayre' posters.


  Forum Editor 17:02 24 Apr 2005

No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

My view about computer security is that we'll all end up with as much, or as little security as we would like, dependent on the need for us to take action ourselves. Anything which is thrust upon us will not succeed unless we consent to it.

  LastChip 17:27 24 Apr 2005

if trustworthy computing is contained within the hardware or written into the operating system, it will be "Hobsons Choice" - particularly if the former.

The point is, no hardware will last forever and if you want to continue to enjoy computer use, you will be forced into buying a system that you don't really want, because that's all that is available.

I can foresee a frightening potential, for the key to computing to be held by half a dozen major players worldwide. What happens to innovation, not to mention competition then?

  siouxah1 19:28 24 Apr 2005

Lastchip I agree with your last paragraph of 1727 post.

Dare I suggest that the human race will be chipped at birth, as per dogs, or will I be jumped on for being a scaremonger or worse.

I see the death of computer use as I know it. It, the computer, will evolve into a closed comsumer box that has all functions closely controlled by the few big players.

I can only guess as to whether that is a good or bad way to go. My view is that it is bad.

Regards Brian

  [email protected]@ 21:46 24 Apr 2005

Has been and gone and in the post war years there were many debates as to how accurate the predictions would be.Now 21 years later I can see some interesting comparisons,the Thought Police can be seen in many of todays modern protest groups(I don't like it so get it banned attitude)and Big Brother is watching you can certainly be applied to all these security camera's we see nowadays just that they are not neccessarilary used for evil as in the book.

As for security I often think that it is being used as an excuse to control us all.

Just one persons view.

  josie mayhem 22:40 24 Apr 2005

Mass control is something that has been around almost as long as man... Go back centeries and you had religeon controling the masses, even in the 20th centary, you had social classing that controled the masses lord of the mannor and all that.

So really technology is only catching up, to enable the few to control the masses...

Weather there is a closed system or a open system at the end of the day there will be some-one out there who will crack it, hack it and/or spread it. so if we've haven't already learn't to live with up-dates and patches then we are going to have to lump it.

  Forum Editor 23:54 24 Apr 2005

in this 'controlling the masses' theory - leave the paranoia to the conspiracy theorists and keep your feet on the ground. Nobody is planning to control the masses via computer hardware - it simply can't happen. Computer sales, like any other sales are controlled by market forces - if people want something they'll buy it, and if they don't they won't.

What you do when you're considering a purchase is you weigh up the pros and cons - what's called the perceived value - of an item, and if you think that on balance you would rather have said item than not have it you'll make the purchase. There are many instances of manufacturers trying to force consumers to buy products or services and failing, simply because - for one reason or another - the market didn't see the deal as acceptable.

Try to forget this idea that we're all meek little lambs, just sitting around at the mercy of big, bad Mr. manufacturer - ready to knuckle under and buy whatever comes our way. It's not like that, and if you don't believe me talk to one of the people who decided we were all going to have cable TV.

Data security is undoubtedly the biggest single issue in corporate computing circles, and answers have to be (and will be) found to some of the most pressing problems. Software piracy is a large and painful thorn in the sides of the big software companies, and similarly answers must be found - even if they only partially solve the problem. You and I have nothing to fear from trustworthy computing, and there's no need for anyone to go scaremongering about loss of personal freedom. We all lost that years ago, and a good thing too. Total personal freedom - to do just what you like - has no place in a modern, disciplined society. The freedom to make choices about certain things was removed with our consent a long time ago, and no doubt there will be changes in the future. The important thing is that we still have the most fundamental of all freedoms - we may choose what we wish to buy with our own money, and the likes of Microsoft and Intel know it well. When Bill Gates lies down at night he might worry about many things, but one of them looms larger than all the others - the possibility that his share of the market will be eroded by innovators. He'll do nothing, or cause nothing to be done that will jeopardise his market share, and that includes alienating his customers by introducing blatantly unfair and opressive security measures into his company's software. If you don't think I'm right just watch the Microsoft marketing strategies over the next few years.

  smokingbeagle 00:07 25 Apr 2005

click here
for a better balanced view than offered by Ross Anderson (LastChip's link).

  LastChip 00:42 25 Apr 2005

To take your example of cable television. The reason that cable did not take off in the way that the operators would have wished, is because there was (and still is) a choice. Suppose analogue/digital TV transmissions were turned off tomorrow, but the great population still wished to watch TV, they would have no choice but to turn to cable and this is the point I was making with trusted computing. If the mechanism is built into the hardware, there will be no choice, just as turning off TV via the airwaves would produce the same result for cable.

Now to further explore your (well written) contribution, I quote "When Bill Gates lies down at night he might worry about many things, but one of them looms larger than all the others - the possibility that his share of the market will be eroded by innovators". Would it not be fair to say, that by using trusted computing as a way around market domination issues, innovation would be stifled and to Microsoft's advantage? Or indeed to any of the chosen few that participate?

It seems to me, and it appears to be Professor Anderson's view, that this could well lead to a very smooth path for dodging all the current issues that Microsoft faces at the present time.

However, if the choice is made to use software as the mechanism for trustworthy computing, I don't see it as big a issue, as there will always be alternative operating systems to choose from (hopefully) and therefore the choice remains.

You may then end up with business choosing one path and individuals another. Nothing wrong with that, providing the choice is there.

Finally, I don't (I'm afraid) go along with your view of freedom. Freedom has been fought for throughout history and has been hard won. This is the wrong place to get into a political discussion and according to the forum rules I do not intend to do so, but suffice to say, we have lost far too much already, and any further should be resisted with all the power we can all muster.

It would be nice to perhaps re-visit this in five years or so time (if we are all still around) and see who's closest to the truth!

  Forum Editor 07:09 25 Apr 2005

I've nothing to add to what I said earlier. I'll see you here in 2010.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

Elsewhere on IDG sites

iMac Pro review

25 book design and illustration tips

iMac Pro review

Idées cadeaux pour geeks et tech addicts