Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

9Jul/06Off

Why Do Journalists Feign Such Ignorance?

It's weird because it seems like a whole lot of hot air is being blown in fifty different directions about data breaches from large organizations via mobile devices most notably laptops and removable storage. Wired has a very superficial look at it that really bothers me. What is frustrating about this sort of sensationalist crap is that the term 'laziness' is bandied around like the desire to work on things away from your crappy cubical in your crappy office where no one will ever shut up for ten seconds to let you actually complete a thought is some kind of conscious effort to shirk the restrictions of data security and dance naked through Dobie Gillis-land handing out social security numbers and home addresses instead of just trying to get shit done. Maybe it's my own experience with being unable to get anything done that doesn't involve whatever popped up on Digg lately that makes me more sympathetic to folks who have been caught up in these sorts of scandals.

One of the most troublesome aspects of cases like this is that more often than not the companies/organizations in question have no secure method for their workers to access confidential information. Lots of places throw out the VPN option and then just pardon themselves from further considering the question. Secure access sucks in almost every organization and making it workable seems to be the very least of things concerning those waving their hands and making grumbling 'Uh-oh's at the situations. To be really blunt, people are going to take work away from their place of work. That is pretty much a given unless you're some CIA spook or something. Upper management types are going to encourage and/or lie about this sort of information leaving an agency because they're more concerned with getting a few more hours of work out of their data mungers than what might happen to the information should they feed it after midnight.

I think some of the ideas in the article are pretty solid thinking but the problem with all of it is that it is just thinking. Encryption is pretty readily broken and doesn't matter a bit if the files are unencrypted or the machine (assuming that, to do along with the image of the worker drone working on reports somewhere without network connectivity, these are Windows machines we're talking about here) isn't locked when not in use. Plain text files is plain text files. In that particular can of worms also lies another problem: if all of this stuff is centralized and kept under the watchful eye (again, where are my goddamned sarcasm tags) of IT security then where are the worker drones accessing it from? Wirelessly in a coffee place? Sounds really fabulous and great. Their own wireless network at home running on a commodity router with no security? Fucked yet again. The whole thing is largely another disaster (with more expense and training this time) waiting to happen.

All of this said and in far too many words, the laziness is really on the part of sites like Wired splashing a little ink over the problem without really exploring what a complex problem it is. I guess those quotes are good enough without any context at all? I sound like a right wing nutcase (first, we kill all of the journalists) but this sort of half assing is pretty annoying regardless of the source.

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