Too many secrets, the meltdown of information security


The unprecedented action of the US government to shut down embassies and consulates in the whole are of the Middle East is indicative of the jitters all governments must feel about the security of their operations after the leaks from the US defense and security agencies. The massive hemorrhage may mark the end or grave decline of the ability of governments and other organizations to secure their date. Transparency may not come as a virtue, but as an consequence of changing technology and attitude of workers in formerly secure areas. 

Sneakers is a 1992 filmed in late 1991 and released in 1992. In it two college student pull a prank by raiding bank accounts of people they did not like (Richard Nixon) and sending the money to causes that Nixon did not like. One was caught by the police and spent time in jail, eventually working for the Mafia as a computer genius. The other started a security company. The mafia hacker had a business card that said simply "Too many secrets". 

Too many or too few, depending on one's point of view

It is clear that there are many secrets leaking out of the world-wide troves of secrets. Terrorists have too many, drug dealers have too many, bankers have too many, governments have too many. It is getting harder and harder to hide them. Mr. Snowden's raiding of the National Security Agency cookie jar is a case in point.

But what is interesting to is the fact that while patriotic Americans are furious at Snowden's actions and want him strung up, some of these very same people, congressional representatives and US government agencies are using these revelations to worm more information out of the NSA for their own use and at the same time to try to limit its ability to snoop. This New York Times article describes this paradoxical behavior.

Meanwhile Mr. Putin has pulled off a dubious public relations coup as the standard bearer of human rights by giving Snowden asylum. A little ironic, no?

What the outcome will be, we cannot know. Surely the closing of diplomatic missions by the US government may make for better safety for the diplomats - but the subtext of this action surely is, "We need to snoop." Whether this message will be effective in the long run, is problematic.



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