[Cryptography] Market demands for security (was Re: Opening Discussion: Speculation on "BULLRUN")

ianG iang at iang.org
Mon Sep 9 06:50:31 EDT 2013

On 9/09/13 03:48 AM, James A. Donald wrote:
> On 2013-09-09 6:08 AM, John Kelsey wrote:
>> a.  Things that just barely work, like standards groups, must in general be easier to sabotage in subtle ways than things that click along with great efficiency.  But they are also things that often fail with no help at all from anyone, so it's hard to tell.
>> b.  There really are tradeoffs between security and almost everything else.  If you start suspecting conspiracy every time someone is reluctant to make that tradeoff in the direction you prefer, you are going to spend your career suspecting everyone everywhere of being ant-security.  This is likely to be about as productive as going around suspecting everyone of being a secret communist or racist or something.

Part of the problem is that we are trained to label ideas that we find 
uncomfortable as conspiracy theories.  And, when they are shown to be 
true, we aren't ready to apologise for our slapping down of those 
wretches so labelled.

It's far better to talk in risk terms.  Yes, the NSA could have hacked 
the RNG in intel's chips.  But what is the likelhood?  Low?  Medium? 
High?  Everyone can choose, and now the desire to slap down is detuned.

Same with NSA infiltrating the IETF.  Yes, we can agree it is a risk.

But what steps has the IETF taken to mitigate it?  It is an open forum, 
we can check the bona fides of all players, we can read their comments 
forever, etc etc.  We can therefore all (personally) decide on whether 
the risk is adequately mitigated.  And whether to do more mitigation at 
the individual level.

> Poor analogy.
> Everyone is a racist, and most people lie about it.
> Everyone is a communist in the sense of being unduly influenced by
> Marxist ideas, and those few of us that know it have to make a conscious
> effort to see the world straight, to recollect that some of our supposed
> knowledge of the world has been contaminated by widespread falsehood.
> The Climategate files revealed that official science /is/ in large part
> a big conspiracy against the truth.
> And Snowden's files seem to indicate that all relevant groups are
> infiltrated by people hostile to security.

I think we can just about comfortably put our own professional 
difficulties into risk analysis, and agree to differing levels of risk. 
  But once we get into non-security issues such as racism, politics, 
etc, our ability to be objective rapidly diminishes.

(I don't disagree with what is said above, I just agree we can't talk 
productively at that level...)


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