Essays Tagged "New York Daily News"
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Criminals go where the money is, and cybercriminals are no exception.
And right now, the money is in ransomware.
It’s a simple scam. Encrypt the victim’s hard drive, then extract a fee to decrypt it. The scammers can’t charge too much, because they want the victim to pay rather than give up on the data. But they can charge individuals a few hundred dollars, and they can charge institutions like hospitals a few thousand. Do it at scale, and it’s a profitable business.
And scale is how ransomware works. Computers are infected automatically, with viruses that spread over the internet. Payment is no more difficult than buying something online—and payable in untraceable bitcoin—with some ransomware makers offering tech support to those unsure of how to buy or transfer bitcoin. Customer service is important; people need to know they’ll get their files back once they pay…
Security Has Become a For-Profit Business
This is an edited version of a longer essay.
It’s a new day for the New York Police Department, with technology increasingly informing the way cops do their jobs. With innovation come new possibilities, but also new concerns.
For one, the NYPD is testing a security apparatus that uses terahertz radiation to detect guns under clothing from a distance. As Police Commissioner Ray Kelly explained back in January, “If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation, for example a weapon, the device will highlight that object.”
Ignore, for a moment, the glaring constitutional concerns, which make the stop-and-frisk debate pale in comparison: virtual strip-searching, evasion of probable cause, potential profiling. Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union are all over those, even though their opposition probably won’t make a difference. We’re scared of terrorism and crime (even as the risks decrease), and when we’re scared, we’re willing to give up all sorts of freedoms to assuage our fears. Often, the courts go along…
A heavily edited version of this essay appeared in the New York Daily News.
Securing the Washington Monument from terrorism has turned out to be a surprisingly difficult job. The concrete fence around the building protects it from attacking vehicles, but there’s no visually appealing way to house the airport-level security mechanisms the National Park Service has decided are a must for visitors. It is considering several options, but I think we should close the monument entirely. Let it stand, empty and inaccessible, as a monument to our fears…
We'll spend millions on new technology, and terrorists will just adapt
They should save their money—and instead invest every penny they’re considering pouring into new technologies into intelligence and old-fashioned policing.
Intensifying security at specific stations only works against terrorists who aren’t smart enough to move to another station. Cameras are useful only if all the stars align: The terrorists happen to walk into the frame, the video feeds are being watched in real time and the police can respond quickly enough to be effective. They’re much more useful …
It’s been months since the Transportation Security Administration has had a permanent director. If, during the job interview (no, I didn’t get one), President Obama asked me how I’d fix airport security in one sentence, I would reply: “Get rid of the photo ID check, and return passenger screening to pre-9/11 levels.”
Okay, that’s a joke. While showing ID, taking your shoes off and throwing away your water bottles isn’t making us much safer, I don’t expect the Obama administration to roll back those security measures anytime soon. Airport security is more about CYA than anything else: defending against what the terrorists did last time…
On Wednesday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that New York will be the first city with 911 call centers able to receive images and videos from cell phones and computers. If you witness a crime, you can not only call in – you can send in a picture or video as well.
This is a great idea that can make us all safer. Often the biggest problem a 911 operator has is getting enough good information from the caller. Sometimes the caller is emotionally distraught. Sometimes there’s confusion and background noise. Sometimes there’s a language barrier. Giving callers the opportunity to use all the communications tools at their disposal will help operators dispatch the right help faster…
The epidemic of personal data thefts and losses – most recently 40 million individuals by Visa and MasterCard – should concern us for two reasons: personal privacy and identity theft.
Real reform is required to solve these problems. We need to reduce the amount of personal information collected, limit how it can be used and resold, and require companies that mishandle our data to be liable for that mishandling. And, most importantly, we need to make financial institutions liable for fraudulent transactions.
Whether it is the books we take out of the library, the Web sites we visit, our medical information or the contents of our E-mails and text messages, most of us have personal data that we don’t want made public. Legislation that securely keeps this data out of the hands of criminals won’t affect the privacy invasions committed by reputable companies in the name of price discrimination, marketing or customer service…
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.