Friday Squid Blogging: Book by One Squid-Obsessed Person About Another
Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer, by Matthew Gavin Frank.
As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.
Posted on September 5, 2014 at 4:06 PM
From the "holy-cow-I'm-not-the-only-one-who-thinks-this" dept:
Everything Is Broken, by Quinn Norton
Exercise left to reader: Pick out the two issues everybody seems to miss. (A third key issue, that everything really is broken, is discussed often here---but almost nowhere else.)
Regarding the obeyism in the nazi time, I think they did a very clever trick. Their elite force, the SS, was given the motto "Meine Ehre heisst Treue" ("my honor is loyalty"). In the prussian society, there were only very few things more precious to a man than his honor. Thus, a man disobeying an order was not only a man with questionable loyalty (which might have been ok) but also an honorless man (which was a no-go).
This probably worked its way through society, ending in 10 year old boys proudly serving at "Volkssturm" (home guard), thinking they defend what was left of their families.
Without comparing the both of them, the marine corps does a similar clever thing. You don't serve at the marines. You are a marine. Being a marine is not a job, it's a (way of) live.
It's the two sides of esprit de corps. It can be a rich and enlightening experience when strangers become close as family. But it can also lead to complete desaster when no one has both the reputation and the balls needed to stop them if they're wrong.
My two cents from everyday life without scientific evidence: Milgram works. Take ten people in a room. Hand half of them visible markers (let's say, a button). Just of that, there will probably be two groups. Which of them is dominating depends probably on the persons in the groups. Even if you change the number of buttons, the dicision whether buttons are elite-markers or victim-markers depends largely on the persons.
Now, change the marker to something with a semantic of its own (but still no evicent power). Say, a known symbol (sherrif's star, military emblem -- or something connected to a convicted criminal). Make it a sign of authority, and you have Milgram. He had a very complex sign: A whole lab. People obeyed because he could use it as his marker for being authoritaty and credibility. It's social engineering.
I'd love to do a simple experiment on this: Stand on the street and command pedestrians to slap each other. I would do it a) wearing average clothing for that street, b) wearing a fine suit, c) wearing a "scientific uniform" (whatever that may be), d) wearing a soldier's uniform, e) wearing a police officer's uniform. For obvious reasons, I haven't done that experiment yet.
I really like the idea of how you made your system torture proof by inducing retrograde amnesia. Only drawback is that you must not have made any mistake while planning. Uncorrelated: Torture is used not only to gather information from a suspect but also to change the tortured person's behavior (there has been significant research on torture an behavior modification in German Democratic Republic which is unfortunately not publicly available).
Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.
Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of IBM Resilient.