The news on the radio this morning seems to be about a big data spill from Mitsubishi-UFJ or whatever's investment. (I'm thinking, I'm glad we don't bank there, then I remember, ...)
I was reading a lot yesterday, cleaning up old stuff, scanning some newspaper articles for possible use in classes, and I notice a theme -- the war on drugs, the war on terror, it's all driven by a disparity in price and value.
Most private data is of perceived value precisely because people protect it. The rest is only of value to the people who protect it. Well, if I take you down that path, you'll scream "Transcendental!" and run away.
Let's see. Sure, spam is a problem in your mailbox. It clogs the internet and wastes a lot of energy and a lot of user and administration time. It draws people into wasting their money and, in many cases, putting themselves at risk.
It took several years to train myself to recognize and delete the bad-ads, and I don't want to claim that I don't regret the time I wasted on that. But the primary problem was/is that I, like most people, am still a little susceptible to the lure of the quick fix.
Yeah, it's easy to get lost in a daydream about what I'd do if I won the lottery. But I'm getting pretty good at reminding myself that I just don't play the lottery, and you don't win if you don't play. Then I can ask myself what I really want to do, what is it that is distracting me from whatever job is in front of me?
After a little bit of thinking, I remember that the primary things I want to do, I have the means.
I don't need to win a lottery and start a company that sells just machines pre-loaded with a Linux or BSD class OS, even though it would be nice to have more such companies in the world. It would be fun, but it isn't the project I need to be working on.
Yeah, I'd like to have an ARM Kurobako to load openBSD on and run as my home server, and free up the Mac Mini for my kids to play with. But, again, my kids don't need to think they are free to load any web page that looks interesting, and I have another project or three that need my attention first. When/if I really need to get Drupal running on my home server (and therefore need to separate it from the family Mac), the Lord will help me get an appropriate server.
It's basically the same with drugs, pornography, private data, etc. Sure, I'm not invincible, but if I get uptight and do unreasonable things to prevent others from doing whatever they are doing, that raises the perceived value of whatever it is they are doing in their minds.
Like the kid in class who insists on disrupting. The more you try to prevent him from doing so, the more attention you're giving him, and the more he thinks that, even though your words say it's wrong, what he is doing is in some hidden sense "right".
What is the reason for the door lock on your car. Is it to prevent theft?
It is to declare that the car is not public property.
If the society in which you and your car exist do not recognize private property (think, slums), the lock does no good. Period.
The real thing that protects your car is that its perceived value is lower than the hot car down the street. Well, the perceived value, less the trouble the potential thief has to go to.
So-called "speed bumps" really are useful, when used correctly.
So, what does this have to do with private data?
Maybe it has a bit to do with one reason why I wouldn't really want to win the lottery, even if I did play it.
The real key to security is to refrain from having things worth the trouble of taking.
Drive used cars, carry a used notebook PC.
Sure, use a password to keep the speed bump up, but don't put important information on the PC you carry around. (Leave it in the office, where it belongs, really.)
Don't use the internet for financial transactions, unless you have an account you can afford to lose money from every now and then.
(Yeah, one of the projects I have on a back burner somewhere is a dedicated internet terminal that could be safely used for on-line transactions, if the stores and banks would cooperate, but even that is relative. It would be more secure than what we currently have, but not unbreakable. You still would not want to regularly access your retirement fund with it.)