Victus Spiritus


Security is not the product of rule based systems, but rooted in banishing ignorance

26 Jul 2010

Anxious Dreams

A merchant class manor lord had taken over my parents home and I am no longer welcome. I flee to an old neighbors back yard and a strange truck comes down the driveway, another safe haven long gone with strange voices shouting into the darkness. I rolled over at 3 am this morning after a dream that shouldn't have been frightening, but left me wide awake and unnerved. My conscious mind painted on the perception of safeties lost almost 20 years ago. The message eerily reminds me of just how thin the illusion of stability I now entertain is*.

How much security is necessary and how much is real

Security, like satisfaction is an elusive concept. What is perceived as safe to many, is terrifying to others. A great example is how many personal freedoms folks are willing to cast aside in order to foster a feeling of safety. Ben Franklin's famous quote captures my sentiment splendidly, Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. We're not children and the government is certainly not our parent. So why does blanket legislation strip away individual rights to placate the illusion of safety for others (even a majority). None of us will experience true safety while we turn a blind eye to the perilous social and fiscal issues in the world around us. By casting the light of collective attention onto issues that improve understanding, we may just banish the spectre of fear. Without unbounded fear feeding a society, security can be rexamined as a rational tool.

How do you quantify or attribute security?

In the realm of network security the number of foiled intrusions to overall attempts is one metric. Generally making things harder for would be attackers is considered part of best practices. Unique, lengthy passwords with nonstandard characters capture the essence of our identity and access. Visiting only "safe" web sites with approved browsers like Internet Explorer 7-8 is a laughable defense. How can we know with confidence how many of our rituals make a significant contribution to computer security without understanding OS and application specific vulnerabilities?

Now magnify this issue into the rest of our lives. First and foremost I'm a tax paying social security number to the government. After that my life choices are free within the bounds considered socially acceptable by the majority of legislators over the past couple of hundred years. Some laws make sense, while others have no basis in a society that embraces personal freedoms. How many of our sacrificed liberties really guarantee our public safety?


* = personal and community economic stability