Security, Counter Measures, Half Measures, and The Real Thing

Security is mostly theater: you are forced to take off your shoes or surrender your shampoo, but random testing of airport security checkpoints reveal that their highly trained personnel routinely miss test bombs which are placed in luggage to test the effectiveness of screeners. An alert comes in, and we are supposed to “achieve a state of higher awareness”, which usually means glaring angrily at those people who look Arabic. Or Muslim, whatever muslims are supposed to look like. It would be hilarious if it weren’t serious.

Over at Boing Boing, Cory posted a brief message about wiretapping, and supposedly gave you an mp3 that you could play to disable remote wiretapped recordings.

Boing Boing: HOWTO trick wiretaps into thinking you’ve hung up

Like most things, there is a grain of truth in this: but Cory didn’t tell you enough about what you needed to know to determine what was real about this and what was not. Luckily, I know where this idea came from. If you are interested in why playing this tone might actually defeat a wiretap, and how it actually works, check out the papers by Matt Blaze et. al here. I’ve attended a number of talks and demonstrations from Matt, and he’s one of the cleverest individuals I’ve ever met, with a special talent for matters relating to security. All that I know about safe cracking can be safely attributed to his influence.

Take that however you like.

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