Essays Tagged "Forbes"

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How to Not Catch Terrorists

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Forbes
  • March 26, 2007

Data mining for terrorists: It’s an idea that just won’t die. But it won’t find any terrorists, it puts us at greater risk of crimes like identity theft, and it gives the police far too much power in a free society.

The first massive government program to collect dossiers on every American for data mining purposes was called Total Information Awareness. The public found the idea so abhorrent, and objected so forcefully, that Congress killed funding for the program in September 2003. But data mining is like a hydra—chop one head off, two more grow in its place. In May 2004, the General Accounting Office published a …

Why Vista's DRM Is Bad For You

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Forbes
  • February 12, 2007

German translation

Windows Vista includes an array of “features” that you don’t want. These features will make your computer less reliable and less secure. They’ll make your computer less stable and run slower. They will cause technical support problems. They may even require you to upgrade some of your peripheral hardware and existing software. And these features won’t do anything useful. In fact, they’re working against you. They’re digital rights management (DRM) features built into Vista at the behest of the entertainment industry.

And you don’t get to refuse them…

Solving Identity Theft

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Forbes
  • January 22, 2007

Identity theft is the information age’s new crime. A criminal collects enough personal data on the victim to impersonate him to banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions. Then he racks up debt in the victim’s name, collects the cash and disappears. The victim is left holding the bag.

While some of the losses are absorbed by financial institutions—credit card companies in particular—the credit-rating damage is borne by the victim. It can take years for the victim to completely clear his name.

So far, we’ve seen several “solutions” to this problem: forcing companies to disclose when they lose personal information, forcing companies to secure personal information, forcing financial institutions to enhance their authentication procedures. Unfortunately, these won’t help…

Automated Targeting System

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Forbes
  • January 8, 2007

This article was published under the title “They’re Watching.”

If you’ve traveled abroad recently, you’ve been investigated. You’ve been assigned a score indicating what kind of terrorist threat you pose. That score is used by the government to determine the treatment you receive when you return to the U.S. and for other purposes as well.

Curious about your score? You can’t see it. Interested in what information was used? You can’t know that. Want to clear your name if you’ve been wrongly categorized? You can’t challenge it. Want to know what kind of rules the computer is using to judge you? That’s secret, too. So is when and how the score will be used…

Why Spam Won't Go Away

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Forbes
  • December 12, 2006

Spam is filling up the Internet, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

It’s not just e-mail. We have voice-over-IP spam, instant message spam, cellphone text message spam, blog comment spam and Usenet newsgroup spam. And, if you think broadly enough, these computer-network spam delivery mechanisms join the ranks of computer telemarketing (phone spam), junk mail (paper spam), billboards (visual space spam) and cars driving through town with megaphones (audio spam). It’s all basically the same thing—unsolicited marketing messages—and only by understanding the problem at this level of generality can we discuss solutions…

Did Your Vote Get Counted?

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Forbes
  • November 13, 2006

This essay also appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Last week in Florida’s 13th Congressional district, the victory margin was only 386 votes out of 153,000. There’ll be a mandatory lawyered-up recount, but it won’t include the almost 18,000 votes that seem to have disappeared. The electronic voting machines didn’t include them in their final tallies, and there’s no backup to use for the recount. The district will pick a winner to send to Washington, but it won’t be because they are sure the majority voted for him. Maybe the majority did, and maybe it didn’t. There’s …

Casual Conversation, R.I.P.

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Forbes
  • October 18, 2006

The political firestorm over former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley’s salacious instant messages hides another issue, one about privacy. We are rapidly turning into a society where our intimate conversations can be saved and made public later. This represents an enormous loss of freedom and liberty, and the only way to solve the problem is through legislation.

Everyday conversation used to be ephemeral. Whether face-to-face or by phone, we could be reasonably sure that what we said disappeared as soon as we said it. Of course, organized crime bosses worried about phone taps and room bugs, but that was the exception. Privacy was the default assumption…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.