Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A little bit about hacking...and a bit of a rant

I'll begin with a reasonably considered opinion on hacking computer systems:

When considering a target, your identity thief looks at two things. Firstly how easy it will be to perform their hacking attack and secondly, how much they can gain from their attack.

In terms of gains, credit card numbers are the holy grail since they provide an immediate opportunity for theft. Personal data is less valulable since in order to gain from it a thief needs assume a victim's and apply for credit.

In terms of difficulty, most hackers prefer to conduct a broad search for targets with obvious holes in network security rather than choosing a specific target and then looking for holes.

This is important, because when people say that the national identity register will be a goldmine for hackers, they are wrong, since the data held in the NIR is likely to be difficult to obtain and not of particularly great value.

And now to the actual point...
Over at Sadie's Tavern, a cheeky troll asked why some of us Labour bloggers have a such a dislike of Henry Porter. I humbly submit the following:

Henry Porter, and a few other self appointed champions of liberty have been writing articles on the supposed theft of our freedoms for a very long time, Henry admits to himself to writing 50 articles on the subject in the past two and a half years. Henry and his ilk are in my opinion responsible for a serious dumbing down of the debate on liberty.

Henry claims to oppose measures on principle, but I'm pretty sure he couldn't define what that principle actually is, he makes ridiculous comparisons to authoritarian dictatorships and he never takes a deeper look into the many different aspects of the debate (such as hacking (above), the consequences of data loss, why a future government could use an ID card scheme). He just repeats the same piece of rehashed government bashing every week.

There is a good deal of good debate on liberty going on, but far too much of it is characterised by this stupid 1984 lite level of debate epitomised Henry's Sunday Observer column.

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