Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Usenix technical conference: Day 4 (Wednesday)

I'm currently sitting in on an RSA talk about their concerns for privacy in the world of wireless, including what sounds like an all encompassing world of everything from RFID to 802.XX. They contend that the government should legislate how the wireless data should be used, how it must be stored. Frankly this "the sky is falling" idea that they're trying to push doesn't seem to be going over well in the audience. Three things come to issue in my mind..

-First how much of the research (and resulting talks) were designed to thwart competition from companies that use combinations of authentication and RF proximity to figure out if bad guys are attempting to gain access to a company's (or consumer's) wireless networks?
-Second, how different is finding RF from shortwave listening? It sounds like we they may be trying to re-eat an pre-digested elephant.
-Last, I'd be more interested in the security of the data after storage of data collected or passed via these networks. Is the database that manages the RFID inventory and consumer preferences at your local grocery store safe enough to handle your consumer preferences?

One of the scientists keeps telling the audience legislation is key. Hmmm. Doesn't HIPAA, SB-1386, S-OX... cover storage of privacy information?

It seems the audience has the RSA panel on the ropes... glad I'm not sitting up there.


Good matchup. Unfortunately, no blood, no sweat, no cage. The two were very professional. The audience was as well. Opening statements started off with Dan reading what I assumed was his paper on the monoculture of IT being a national security issue. Charney kicked off talking about his background in the Bronx with followon at Justice.

The two offered very good perspectives of each side of their respective coins. Good arguements from both sides. It seemed the audience, when given the opportunity to ask questions were more interested in jumping into the debate. Great job keeping them at bay by the moderator --with the exception of Dan's co-author.. who was debating anyway??

Regardless, the debate left the audience debating well into happy hour. Great job.
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