Stikkord: <span>bruce schneier</span>

Skeptical hippo

Å være skeptiker betyr at man som regel liker å «tenke litt lenger». At man ikke bare stoler på magefølelse og overfladiske inntrykk, men faktisk investerer energi i å grave litt dypere.

La meg gi noen eksempler på dette som jeg synes er spennende.

Er sykkelhjelmer bra for helsen?

Pbx images nettavisen noSelvsagt er sykkelhjelmer bra for helsen, tenker vel du. Det beskytter jo hodet mot skader ved fall og kollisjoner. Det er klart at et ubeskyttet hode er mer utsatt enn et hode dekket av en hjelm, så sykkelhjelm må selvsagt være en pluss for helsen.

Det er den intuitive tenkingen. Den konklusjonen alle trekker ved første, overfladiske gjennomtenking.

Men så kommer skeptiker-tenkingen inn: For hva hvis det å måtte bruke sykkelhjelm er så mye stress at en del lar være å sykle? Hva om mange synes at sykkelhjelm ødelegger hårsveisen slik at de heller tar bilen eller bussen? Sykkelhjelm er ikke ennå påbudt i Norge, men mange kan nok føle seg uglesett om de sykler uten hjem, kanskje de føler seg som et dårlig forbilde for barna sine, og da lar de heller være å sykle enn å ta på seg den hersens hjelmen.

Sykling er sunt. Selv om man kalkulerer inn skaderisiko, kommer syklistene godt ut helsemessig. Derfor er det synd at en del kanskje velger motorisert transport til jobben heller enn å sykle, bare fordi de ikke vil bruke sykkelhjelmen.

Da blir det store spørsmålet som skeptikeren stiller seg som følger: Kan et lovpålagt eller sosialt krav/press om sykkelhjelm føre til at så mange færre sykler at helsen på befolkningsnivå går i minus? At fordelene hjelmen gir i beskyttelse er mindre enn fordelene sykling i seg selv gir for helsen?

Svaret på dette er uavklart, men svaret er heller ikke poenget her. Det er tenkemåten som er interessant. Det å alltid skjønne at det finnes et dypere lag som må tas med i betraktningen. At man må skille mellom individ og befolkning. At det er mange variabler som spiller inn, som det er lett å glemme hvis man ikke tenker seg godt om.

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Kortpost Skepsis Vitenskap

Jeg tar opp tråden fra den eminente Bruce Schneier og poster også et utdrag fra en utrolig lekker og viktig liten tekst om vår terrorfrykt og hvordan vi håndterer den. Utdraget mitt utgjør omtrent halve teksten. Du har med andre ord tid til å lese hele. Gjør det.

In still other words, what if we chose to accept the fact that every few years, despite all reasonable precautions, some hundreds or thousands of us may die in the sort of ghastly terrorist attack that a democratic republic cannot 100-percent protect itself from without subverting the very principles that make it worth protecting?

Is this thought experiment monstrous? Would it be monstrous to refer to the 40,000-plus domestic highway deaths we accept each year because the mobility and autonomy of the car are evidently worth that high price? Is monstrousness why no serious public figure now will speak of the delusory trade-off of liberty for safety that Ben Franklin warned about more than 200 years ago? What exactly has changed between Franklin’s time and ours? Why now can we not have a serious national conversation about sacrifice, the inevitability of sacrifice—either of (a) some portion of safety or (b) some portion of the rights and protections that make the American idea so incalculably precious?

[…]

Have we actually become so selfish and scared that we don’t even want to consider whether some things trump safety? What kind of future does that augur?

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Avisene rapporterer i dag den tragiske historien om den danske mannen som glemte sin ettårige datter i bilen mens han var på jobb, noe som medførte at barnet døde av hete og dehydrering.

Det høres helt utrolig ut, men er faktisk ikke så spektakulært som man først skulle tro. I USA skjer dette rundt 15 til 25 ganger hvert år, og tallet på verdensbasis må være mange ganger høyere.

Sikkerhetsekspert Bruce Schneier blogget om dette for noen måneder siden, og han peker på problemstillingen med at ved å beskytte mot en vanlig risiko kan det oppstå uønskede bieffekter. Han siterer fra denne tragiske artikkelen:

«Death by hyperthermia» is the official designation. When it happens to young children, the facts are often the same: An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy, or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine, and just… forgets a child is in the car. It happens that way somewhere in the United States 15 to 25 times a year, parceled out through the spring, summer and early fall.

Two decades ago, this was relatively rare. But in the early 1990s, car-safety experts declared that passenger-side front airbags could kill children, and they recommended that child seats be moved to the back of the car; then, for even more safety for the very young, that the baby seats be pivoted to face the rear.

Schneier fortsetter med å se på hvordan hjernen vår gjør det mulig for denne type fatale glipper å skje, og hvordan vi kan unngå dette gjennom tekniske hjelpemidler.

Blogger Samfunn og verden Vitenskap

Bruce BlogFor noen dager siden skrev jeg en skeptisk analyse av britisk politi sin påstand om at muslimske terrorister gjemmer hemmelige meldinger i barnepornografiske bilder. Jeg stilte meg svært tvilende til at dette kunne være tilfelle, og antydet at slik skremselspropaganda bare har som formål å bane vei for flere angrep på personvern og menneskerettigheter fra myndighetene.

Det gleder meg derfor å se at sikkerhetsguruen Bruce Schneier i dag trekker samme konklusjon. Hans korte kommentar er:

Of course, terrorists and strangers preying on our children are two of the things that cause the most fear in people. Put them together, and there’s no limit to what sorts of laws you can get passed.

Nettopp.

Blogger IT/Internett Politikk Samfunn og verden Skepsis

Bruce Schneier treffer spikeren på hodet nok en gang:

Airport security found a jar of pasta sauce in my luggage last month. It was a 6-ounce jar, above the limit; the official confiscated it, because allowing it on the airplane with me would have been too dangerous. And to demonstrate how dangerous he really thought that jar was, he blithely tossed it in a nearby bin of similar liquid bottles and sent me on my way.

There are two classes of contraband at airport security checkpoints: the class that will get you in trouble if you try to bring it on an airplane, and the class that will cheerily be taken away from you if you try to bring it on an airplane. This difference is important: Making security screeners confiscate anything from that second class is a waste of time. All it does is harm innocents; it doesn’t stop terrorists at all.

Let me explain. If you’re caught at airport security with a bomb or a gun, the screeners aren’t just going to take it away from you. They’re going to call the police, and you’re going to be stuck for a few hours answering a lot of awkward questions. You may be arrested, and you’ll almost certainly miss your flight. At best, you’re going to have a very unpleasant day.

This is why articles about how screeners don’t catch every — or even a majority — of guns and bombs that go through the checkpoints don’t bother me. The screeners don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be good enough. No terrorist is going to base his plot on getting a gun through airport security if there’s decent chance of getting caught, because the consequences of getting caught are too great.
Contrast that with a terrorist plot that requires a 12-ounce bottle of liquid. There’s no evidence that the London liquid bombers actually had a workable plot, but assume for the moment they did. If some copycat terrorists try to bring their liquid bomb through airport security and the screeners catch them — like they caught me with my bottle of pasta sauce — the terrorists can simply try again. They can try again and again. They can keep trying until they succeed. Because there are no consequences to trying and failing, the screeners have to be 100 percent effective. Even if they slip up one in a hundred times, the plot can succeed.

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Schneier on Security: Congratulations to our Millionth Terrorist!:

The U.S terrorist watch list has hit one million names. I sure hope we’re giving our millionth terrorist a prize of some sort.

Who knew that a million people are terrorists. Why, there are only twice as many burglars in the U.S. And fifteen times more terrorists than arsonists.

Is this idiotic, or what?

Some people are saying fix it, but there seems to be no motivation to do so. I’m sure the career incentives aren’t aligned that way. You probably get promoted by putting people on the list. But taking someone off the list…if you’re wrong, no matter how remote that possibility is, you can probably lose your career. This is why in civilized societies we have a judicial system, to be an impartial arbiter between law enforcement and the accused. But that system doesn’t apply here.

Kafka would be proud.

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Schneier on Security: London’s Cameras Don’t Reduce Crime: » 

Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe.

[…]

Use of CCTV images for court evidence has so far been very poor, according to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, the officer in charge of the Metropolitan police unit. «CCTV was originally seen as a preventative measure,» Neville told the Security Document World Conference in London. «Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It’s been an utter fiasco: only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. There’s no fear of CCTV. Why don’t people fear it? [They think] the cameras are not working.«

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Sakset fra Schneier on Security:

Al Qaeda Threat Overrated: «

Seems obvious to me:

‘I reject the notion that Al Qaeda is waiting for ‘the big one’ or holding back an attack,’ Sheehan writes. ‘A terrorist cell capable of attacking doesn’t sit and wait for some more opportune moment. It’s not their style, nor is it in the best interest of their operational security. Delaying an attack gives law enforcement more time to detect a plot or penetrate the organization.’

Terrorism is not about standing armies, mass movements, riots in the streets or even palace coups. It’s about tiny groups that want to make a big bang. So you keep tracking cells and potential cells, and when you find them you destroy them. After Spanish police cornered leading members of the group that attacked trains in Madrid in 2004, they blew themselves up. The threat in Spain declined dramatically.

Indonesia is another case Sheehan and I talked about. Several high-profile associates of bin Laden were nailed there in the two years after 9/11, then sent off to secret CIA prisons for interrogation. The suspects are now at Guantánamo. But suicide bombings continued until police using forensic evidence—pieces of car bombs and pieces of the suicide bombers—tracked down Dr. Azahari bin Husin, ‘the Demolition Man,’ and the little group around him. In a November 2005 shootout the cops killed Dr. Azahari and crushed his cell. After that such attacks in Indonesia stopped.

The drive to obliterate the remaining hives of Al Qaeda training activity along the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier and those that developed in some corners of Iraq after the U.S. invasion in 2003 needs to continue, says Sheehan. It’s especially important to keep wanna-be jihadists in the West from joining with more experienced fighters who can give them hands-on weapons and explosives training. When left to their own devices, as it were, most homegrown terrorists can’t cut it. For example, on July 7, 2005, four bombers blew themselves up on public transport in London, killing 56 people. Two of those bombers had trained in Pakistan. Another cell tried to do the same thing two weeks later, but its members had less foreign training, or none. All the bombs were duds.

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security-camera.jpgVia Bruce Schneiers blogg finner jeg i dag en veldig interessant artikkel:

Researchers examined data from the San Francisco Police Department detailing the 59,706 crimes committed within 1,000 feet of the camera locations between Jan. 1, 2005, and Jan. 28, 2008.

These were the total number of crimes for which police had reports — regardless of whether the crimes were caught on video. The idea was to look at whether criminals stopped committing crimes at those locations because they knew cameras were there.

Using a complicated method, researchers were able to come up with an average daily crime rate at each location broken out by type of crime and distance from the cameras. They then compared it with the average daily crime rate from the period before the cameras were installed.

They looked at seven types of crime: larcenies, burglaries, motor vehicle theft, assault, robbery, homicide and forcible sex offenses.

The only positive deterrent effect was the reduction of larcenies within 100 feet of the cameras. No other crimes were affected — except for homicides, which had an interesting pattern.

Murders went down within 250 feet of the cameras, but the reduction was completely offset by an increase 250 to 500 feet away, suggesting people moved down the block before killing each other.

The final report is expected to analyze the figures in more depth and to include other crimes, including prostitution and drug offenses.

Byens borgermester kommenterer studien på følgende måte:

Mayor Gavin Newsom called the report «conclusively inconclusive» on Thursday but said he still wants to install more cameras around the city because they make residents feel safer.

Og med det understreker han vel poenget veldig godt. Sikkerhetskamerer bidrar ikke til økt sikkerhet, men det gir folk en illusjon av sikkerhet, og det er mye verdt for politikere…

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Et veldig interessant intervju som tar for seg mange spennende aspekter ved flysikkerhet. La meg trekke ut et par gode spørsmål fra Schneier:

Spørsmål:

By today’s rules, I can carry on liquids in quantities of three ounces or less, unless they’re in larger bottles. But I can carry on multiple three-ounce bottles. Or a single larger bottle with a non-prescription medicine label, like contact lens fluid. It all has to fit inside a one-quart plastic bag, except for that large bottle of contact lens fluid. And if you confiscate my liquids, you’re going to toss them into a large pile right next to the screening station—which you would never do if anyone thought they were actually dangerous.

Can you please convince me there’s not an Office for Annoying Air Travelers making this sort of stuff up?

Spørsmål:

How will this foil a plot, given that there are no consequences to trying? Airplane contraband falls into two broad categories: stuff you get in trouble for trying to smuggle onboard, and stuff that just gets taken away from you. If I’m caught at a security checkpoint with a gun or a bomb, you’re going to call the police and really ruin my day. But if I have a large bottle of that liquid explosive, you confiscate it with a smile and let me though. So unless you’re 100% perfect in catching this stuff—which you’re not—I can just try again and again until I get it through.

This isn’t like contaminants in food, where if you remove 90% of the particles, you’re 90% safer. None of those false alarms—none of those innocuous liquids taken away from innocent travelers—improve security. We’re only safer if you catch the one explosive liquid amongst the millions of containers of water, shampoo, and toothpaste. I have described two ways to get large amounts of liquids onto airplanes—large bottles labeled “saline solution” and trying until the screeners miss the liquid—not to mention combining multiple little bottles of liquid into one big bottle after the security checkpoint.

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I USA har det nylig lekket en rapport fra Transportation Security Administration (TSA) som viser at de nå utfører mye strengere testing av sikkerhetskontrollene på flyplasser enn før:

When covert agents test how well airport security screeners find homemade bombs, they pack a detonator, timer and battery inside a cluttered toilet kit, stuff it into a suitcase and carry it through a checkpoint.

Agents also hide fake sheet explosives in briefcase linings. They stash watch timers inside hollowed-out books. They cram detonators in back braces and smear plastic explosives on shoelaces.

The Transportation Security Administration’s special operations division devised the testing to raise the stakes for airport screeners and test whether they can spot bomb parts hidden as a terrorist might try to get them on an airplane, according to a classified TSA report obtained by USA TODAY.

The testing in the past year is far harder than it was before and shortly after the TSA took over airport security in 2002, agency spokeswoman Ellen Howe said. In earlier tests, covert agents would put a gun or a large assembled bomb in an otherwise-empty briefcase, she said.

Nå har jeg lenge ment at de strenge kontrollene på flyplasser i stor grad bare er myndighetenes forsøk på å berolige oss passasjerer, uten at det har noen betydelig reell effekt. Hvis noen vil sprenge eller kapre et fly, vil de alltid klare å få sneket inn et våpen eller eksplosiver. Det siste årets ekstra forbud mot flasker og beholdere som kan romme mer enn noen centiliter væske, er vel kanskje toppen av idioti, spesielt når eksperter strides om denne metoden for å lage eksplosiver på flyet er praktisk gjennomførbar i det hele tatt.

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Beyond fear - Bruce SchneierSkribenten Bruce Schneier skrev for en tid tilbake et flott forsvar for privatlivets rett i magasinet Wired. Artikkelen er så pass viktig at jeg vil referere noen utdrag her. Noe er direkte sitert. Noe er oversatt og noe er mine egne tanker.

The most common retort against privacy advocates — by those in favor of ID checks, cameras, databases, data mining and other wholesale surveillance measures — is this line: «If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?«

Some clever answers:

  • «If I’m not doing anything wrong, then you have no cause to watch me.«,
  • «Because the government gets to define what’s wrong, and they keep changing the definition.«
  • «Because you might do something wrong with my information.«

My problem with quips like these — as right as they are — is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It’s not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? («Who watches the watchers?«) and «Absolute power corrupts absolutely.«

Han fortsetter med å sitere kardinal Richelieu som sa: «If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.» Overvåk et gjennomsnittsmenneske lenge nok og du vil finne en grunn til å arrestere, eller bruke informasjonen til utpressing.

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