26 January 2013

Transitions in Computing priorities

I don't know the exact transition when computer security went from "hardware oriented" to "data oriented" but at some point the continual lowering of costs and the rising importance of digitally stored data made the priority shift.

Originally computers were exotic, expensive, and built to last.  Times changed.  What was once expensive and proprietary became cheap, ubiquitous, and disposable.  Now people don't care so much about having a particular computer to manipulate data with, only that they have some sort of device that can do it.

The old mainframe computer model worked this way, lots of "dumb" terminals with a central repository for data.  Now the mainframe model has been replaced with "the cloud."

Cloud computing is the biggest opportunity for small business to set up an electronic presence.  It is also a way for bigger corporations to make use of idle CPU cycles and unused storage space.  So from an economic standpoint "The Cloud" (depending on whose cloud you are talking about) is a huge opportunity.

On the flip side, "The Cloud" is an opportunity for disaster, if you want to keep your data private.  When your data is "everywhere" then it is essentially available to "everyone" with enough skill or access to take it.

This is fine when your business is a small candy shop in a trendy vacation town in Colorado, the number of people threatening your little piece of the pie is extremely limited.  This is a much bigger problem when you are the Department of Defense.

It has been bandied about that 90% of all classified intelligence comes from "open source" media.  Whether this is actually true or not is irrelevant, the real truth is that open source intelligence is invaluable to governments, corporations, political groups, and individuals.  The billion round DHS ammunition order?  Open source.  What the plan DHS has to do with all that ammunition?  Well that is classified.

Personally I think that the ammo order fell at a time when things are in a "use it or lose it" budget cycle and DHS needed to spend money on "something."  For the DOD the end of the fiscal year is a really good time to stock up on toner and printer paper because Lord knows you never have enough of that laying about.

But wouldn't you really like to know the truth about WHY the DHS decided it needed that much ammunition?  I would, and I'm not privy to that information.  What is more valuable now?  The information, or the computer that it is stored on?

I'm not a fan of wikileaks, but I understand the publicly stated goals of wikileaks.  In a nation such as the United States people have the responsibility to know what their government is doing in their name.  And while sensitive diplomatic cables and AH-64 videos don't reveal much in terms of overall national policy it is our right as citizens to know what is going on.  When everything is "national security" and "state secrets act" protected, then power is not where it should be.  Knowledge is power, and it is the only power that should be shared as much as possible when it comes to our political activities.

That being said, I still think Bradley Manning is a complete douche bag.  I mean seriously, if you can't squelch your conscience and do the job you volunteered for, what sort of a man are you?  Although I think that in Bradley's case his actions were more a cry for attention than an act of civil disobedience.

Knowledge is power...I like that phrase.  Information is the first step towards knowledge.  Right now no one cares about computer hardware, but the data...well the data is priceless.


Hugo de Groot said...

Sorry folks but the "cloud" is a major misnomer and the larger presences on the cloud are either white box stacks of x86 disposable servers in which case you have zero data redundancy or *gasp* a mainframe exists in the architecture. Since I designed the IBM cloud architecture and had AT&T and Verizon steal it from me (and IBM has done piss all about protecting my patents ...) I do know what I am talking about. Each company may do things differently BUT in the end if you need to manipulate large data store you have to have a mainframe. NO UNIX server in the world can handle a single contiguous 12 petabyte database.

AM said...

You bring up a good point, to add to it the nature of the cloud is much more amorphic and heterogeneous than the old mainfraime/terminal model. An evolutionary step instead of a revolutionary step.

So far no one has been able to replace the mainframe for what it was designed to do, provide continuous computing and data management for industry sensitive services (financial, research, etc).

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is time to start building our own data and intelligence for our own uses. There are a few minor projects doing just that at this very moment. It is not for me to say exactly what data they're working on but I will say it is highly interesting.

Mt Top Patriot said...

"Anonymous Hacks Department Of Justice, Threatens To Release Secret DOJ Information"


Anonymous said...

Maybe it is time we started building our own intelligence and practicing our intelligence collation. There is a limited amount of data being collated at the moment, nothing too dangerous or critical but still a little something...