Posts Tagged ‘schneier’
Every once in a while we get the feedback from collaguages in the industry, especially from system administrators, that with Shell Control Box we are creating an evil piece of software that helps bosses with Big Brother-ish aspirations take away their last piece of privacy: their very own computer screen. It’s always hard to convince them that 1) it’s a tool and yes, it can be abused but that’s not the goal it was developed for, and 2) having a trusted recording of when and what they have done on a mission-critical system with sensitive data can just as well save them from false accusations when things get nasty.
This is the reason I was glad to see a great piece from good old Bruce Schneier about auditing which I can point them to from now on:
When we think about security, we commonly think about preventive measures: locks to keep burglars out of our homes, bank safes to keep thieves from our money, and airport screeners to keep guns and bombs off airplanes. We might also think of detection and response measures: alarms that go off when burglars pick our locks or dynamite open bank safes, sky marshals on airplanes who respond when a hijacker manages to sneak a gun through airport security. But audit, figuring out who did what after the fact, is often far more important than any of those other three.
Most security against crime comes from audit. Of course we use locks and alarms, but we don’t wear bulletproof vests. The police provide for our safety by investigating crimes after the fact and prosecuting the guilty: that’s audit.
Audit helps ensure that people don’t abuse positions of trust. The cash register, for example, is basically an audit system. Cashiers have to handle the store’s money. To ensure they don’t skim from the till, the cash register keeps an audit trail of every transaction. The store owner can look at the register totals at the end of the day and make sure the amount of money in the register is the amount that should be there.
The same idea secures us from police abuse, too. The police have enormous power, including the ability to intrude into very intimate aspects of our life in order to solve crimes and keep the peace. This is generally a good thing, but to ensure that the police don’t abuse this power, we put in place systems of audit like the warrant process.
Go on and read the whole stuff: it’s main topic is NSA and its legalisative background in the USA, but it contains lots of other remarkable ideas about auditing in general.