Essays in the Category "Computer and Information Security"

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Protect Your E-Mail

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Macworld
  • November 1995

Safeguard your messages today, and prepare for electronic commerce tomorrow

You may have just started using the Internet for your business, but scientists, academics, and computer programmers have been using it for years. It was designed specifically as a public network for sharing information. Because the availability of information was the priority, provisions for data security were not considered essential. But now that you’re sending proprietary business information over the Internet that openness can become a drawback. You need to take steps to protect your communications…

Electronic Speech – For Domestic Use Only

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Network World
  • January 16, 1995

The U.S. State Department recently ruled that some forms of electronic speech are not protected by the First Amendment and can be prohibited from export. This decision raises questions about freedom of speech on the information superhighway. As business communications continue to migrate from paper mail to electronic mail, these questions will become more important. It is vital that laws address this new form of speech.

Last year, I wrote a book called Applied Cryptography> (John Wiley & Sons, 1994), which explains cryptography in nonmathematical language. It describes how to build cryptography into products, illustrates cryptographic techniques, and evaluates algorithms and makes recommendations on their quality. It even includes source-code listings that enable readers to implement many of the algorithms and techniques described…

High-Tech Government Snooping: Anti-Crime or Orwell Revisited?

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Cincinnati Post
  • September 28, 1994

Good news! The federal government respects and is working to protect your privacy… just as long as you don’t want privacy from the government itself.

In April 1994, the Clinton administration, cleaning up old business from the Bush administration, introduced a new cryptography initiative that ensures the government’s ability to conduct electronic surveillance. The first fruit of this initiative is CLIPPER, designed to secure telephone communications.

CLIPPER is a tamper-resistant chip designed by the National Security Agency, a super-secret branch of the Department of Defense…

Virus Killers: Macworld Lab Tests Virus Software and Survives

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Macworld
  • July 1994

Macintosh users ignore computer viruses at their peril. Viruses can cause irreparable damage to the system or destroy megabytes of data. Fortunately, unlike their biological namesakes, computer viruses are relatively easy and painless to control. With a leading virus-protection software program, it takes only a few minutes a day to remain virus-free.

Macworld Lab tested four antiviral products–the freeware application Disinfectant, Central Point Software’s MacTools ($149.95), Symantec’s Symantec AntiVirus for Macintosh (SAM, $99), and Virex ($99.95) from Datawatch–against every Macintosh virus known at the time of testing, 52 in all. We also looked at each product’s features and measured how fast the programs detected viruses…

Virus Protection on the Mac is Simple But Necessary

  • Bruce Schneier
  • MacWEEK
  • December 13, 1993

“Protecting yourself from Mac virus infection is easy; it’s a wonder there are people who don’t do it,” said Ben Liberman, independent Macintosh consultant in Chicago. There are several good anti-viral software packages, both commercial and free, designed to protect your Mac from attack.

There are two types of anti-viral software: protective and detective. The commercial virus-prevention software packages -Central Point Software Inc.’s Central Point Anti-Virus for Macintosh 2.0, Symantec Corp.’s Symantec Anti-Virus for Macintosh 3.5 and Datawatch Corp.’s Virex 4.1 – support both protective and detective protection. There are two freeware virus-protection programs: Disinfectant, which takes a detective approach, and GateKeeper, which takes a protective approach. Both programs are available on most bulletin board systems and on-line services…

Clipper Gives Big Brother Far Too Much Power

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Computerworld
  • May 31, 1993

In April, the Clinton administration, cleaning up business left over from the Bush administration, introduced a cryptography initiative that gives government the ability to conduct electronic surveillance. The first fruit of this initiative is Clipper, a National Security Agency (NSA)-designed, tamper-resistant VLSI chip. The stated purpose of this chip is to secure telecommunications.

Clipper uses a classified encryption algorithm. Each Clipper chip has a special key, not needed for messages, that is used only to encrypt a copy of each user’s message key. Anyone who knows the key can decrypt wiretapped communications protected with this chip. The claim is that only the government will know this key and will use it only when authorized to do so by a court…

Data Guardians

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Macworld
  • February 1993

Security problems have become almost as commonplace as desktop computers. A disgruntled city employee, trying to get back at the boss, digs into the mayor’s personal files and sends damaging information to the press. A woman asks her computer-expert husband to recover an accidentally deleted budget file; he recovers not only that file, but purposely deleted letters to an illicit lover. Or a major corporation loses critical financial data to an industrial spy who dialed in to a company file server.

Most of us have some computer-security vulnerability. Fortunately, software solutions can address mild concern through outright paranoia. Some security products will keep your kid brother from reading your files. Others will prevent a Mac guru from reading your files. Still others will bar the best Macintosh programmers in the industry from reading your files. Finally, some software will probably keep the spy agencies of large nations or the industrial spies of multinational corporations from reading our files…

Taking Backups out of Users' Hands

  • Bruce Schneier
  • MacWEEK
  • October 19, 1992

Convincing people to back up their hard disks is a universal struggle. Most people make backups irregularly, if at all. And whether or not the backups are labeled or even if they can be used to restore data in the event of a disk crash is usually the responsibility of the individual user.

As companies downsize their computing centers, more critical applications are moving from mainframe computers to networked microcomputers.

The data on these microcomputers can be crucial to the life of the company, and network managers are loathe to leave the important task of backup to chance…

System 7's Security Shortcomings

  • Bruce Schneier
  • MacWEEK
  • July 27, 1992

System 7 and the Mac were designed for ease of use, not security. Networked Macs suffer from many security risks that stand-alone machines don’t and, unlike mainframe systems, there is no central computing machine from which to control access.

AppleTalk is a dynamic “plug-and-play” system – any Mac can plug into an existing network and immediately become part of it. AppleTalk also is a peer-to-peer system – any Mac can access resources on, send files to and exchange messages with any other machine. “Macintosh users are used to having an open platform and freely sharing files,” said Andrew Sneed, computer coordinator at The Analytical Services Corp. (TASC) in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. That openness is not conducive to network security, he added. “They want to be able to get any file on any machine painlessly and effortlessly.”…

Keeping Viruses Off Net a Battle

  • Bruce Schneier
  • MacWEEK
  • June 22, 1992

Macs sitting alone on desert islands don’t catch viruses. Even Macs whose users frequently trade disks with each other can be protected easily. With Macs on large networks, however, virus prevention can be a lot more complicated.

“If you have a published volume on your hard disk, someone can drop a virus on your machine without your knowledge,” said Jeffrey Shulman, author of Virus Detective and Virus Blockade and president of Shulman Software Co. of Morgentown, W.Va.

Many holes.

Shared disk space, on servers and local disks using System 7’s file sharing, are an often unprotected means through which viruses can spread…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.