Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Where in the world?

So I am sitting in Baltimore - out here for some training on these amazing firewalls that were recently purchased for the project I am working on. The only thing that I am waiting for is for them to implement SSL VPNs and then it will be ranked as one of my favorite firewall devices out there.

Again with the politics - last night I got to sit down with a very dear friend of mine who happens to be working for Homeland Security. Eventually conversation came around to, "What would Ward do if he anyone listened?"

I started off with CALEA. In October 1994, Congress took action to protect public safety and national security by enacting the Communications Assistance for law enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA), Pub. L. No. 103-414, 108 Stat. 4279. The law further defines the existing statutory obligation of telecommunications carriers to assist law enforcement in executing electronic surveillance pursuant to court order or other lawful authorization and requires carriers to design or modify their systems to ensure that lawfully-authorized electronic surveillance can be performed.

A bunch of legal mumble jumble that basically says that we as telecommunications providers better have a method to allow law enforcement the ability to serve a warrant and tap phone/date communications. My problem is with the unfortunate guys that are sent by the various law enforcement agencies to certify and/or utilize the network. In this day and time, our continued worry of terrorism, whether it be cyber or real you need to have guys that can understand what they are looking at - the government has done nothing to provide the money necessary to prepare these guys - not to mention getting one of the agencies to send someone out to the site for review can be one long painful experience.

I don't have a problem with spending the time to help these guys but I am not law enforcement and at the end of the day I am not the one who has to know the laws and how to catch whoever they are after. Additionally if you are conducting illegal business in the electronic age utilizing the communication options available to you I would expect that you are going to be bright enough to know about things like PGP, Skype, or IPSec - and if you aren't you paid somebody to come work for you that showed you what technology was out there and how things worked - I am betting money that the law enforcement officer standing next to me is not going to be that informed. Spend the money to either hire guys like me that are willing to help out or train the guys you have working for you.

I won't carry on about the VoIP discussion that we had - I pointed to the benefits of VoIP but also the many ways that the services could be abused.

I told a little story about a little run in with TSA a few weeks ago. Coming through an airport I frequently travel through my carry-on was pulled and opened. Not an uncommon thing, upon opening my bag they discovered a pair of nail scissors, an item that had been in bag for the last three months of flying - I was informed they would have to confiscate them or I could return to the outside and hand them off to someone - nail scissors folks. At this point I was a bit frustrated with the very large guy they had now sent over to talk to me - asking him why they were dangerous he informed me that they could be held in your hand used to punch holes in someone's chest - this I agreed with - as for the threat - highly unlikely - I laughed and asked the employee if I could use his ballpoint pen. This I told him was much more dangerous than the scissors, I could perform a much more violent attack and the actual chance of killing someone with that pen were more likely - I then smiled and told him he could throw the scissors away. I fortunately wasn't grabbed and hauled away - but this does indicate to me a couple of problems.

The government has attempted to provide a false sense of security by increasing the security at airports and secondly the idea that me and my scissors would be dangerous are more likely the inability for an organization to actually understand the true threats that face this nation.

We need to stop being lemmings and following along. There is the possibility of future threats - Why? - Cowboys running things have pissed off enough people in this world that they are going to try and take a chip of the bully's shoulder. This is no longer a matter of whether we did right or wrong - that can of worms is open but now how are we going to clean up the mess. This should be the main focus of the current election.

The outcome of the conversation - I got to throw some of my issues on the table and he heard them - he asked for several of my business cards so he could throw them around the office - maybe I get the chance to talk to someone else that wants to hear what I think.

As I walked out the door he reminded me that my vote for Bush would help keep him in a job and feeding his family - I laughed - we both know my vote wasn't headed that way - then I reminded him that I knew my vote had already been cancelled out by another friend back in Utah. Great night with a really dear friend who tolerates my outspoken political ramblings.

1 comment:

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