By Sumner Lemon
IDG News Service
September 18, 2006
Many of the security measures put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks on the World Trade Center in New York are doing more harm than
good, said two speakers scheduled to present at the Hack In The Box
Security Conference (HITB) this week.
The effect of many security measures put in place by governments after
Sept. 11 has been to strengthen control over their citizens and erode
democratic freedoms, said Roberto Preatoni, a security consultant who
works in Italy. "The Internet allows you to do more effective things
regarding controlling the population," he said.
"Before, we were just being spied on," said Fabio Ghioni, vice president
and security CTO of Telecom Italia. Now, governments are using
psychological operations and technology to prey upon their citizens'
fears and extend their own power, he said.
"Technology makes it easier for us to be brainwashed, make us accept
less and less freedom," Ghioni said.
In some cases, the technology measures put in place by governments may
put citizens at greater risk of attack from terrorists, Preatoni said.
As an example, he cited a recent demonstration of how an RFID
(radio-frequency identification) passport system being proposed by the
U.S. State Department could be used by terrorists to construct a bomb
designed to target U.S. citizens.
In that demonstration, Flexilis, of Los Angeles, showed how an RFID
passport that was left slightly open could be used to trigger a bomb
equipped with an RFID reader. Flexilis proposed modifications to the
design of the RFID passport that prevent this from happening. A video of
the demonstration can be viewed online here.
Faced with the fear of terrorist attacks, the U.S. and Europe have been
quick to give up freedoms in exchange for promises of protection from
their governments, Ghioni said. In some cases, such as the U.S. Patriot
Act, the provisions and implications of these protective measures are
not adequately explained by governments or understood by their citizens,
Ghioni also questioned the scale of measures taken in recent years to
respond to terrorism, noting that Europe has long faced the threat of
attacks from groups such as the Red Brigade and the Irish Republican
Army. "Look at the statistics. How many people in the West died of
terrorism? How many people die from car accidents," he asked.
HITB, in Kuala Lumpur, runs through Thursday, Sept. 21.
HITBSecConf2006 - Malaysia
The largest network security event in Asia
32 internationally renowned speakers
7 tracks of hands-on technical training sessions.
Register now: http://conference.hitb.org/hitbsecconf2006kl/