Friday, February 08, 2008

On Watching the Internet.

Two separate and yet related stories.

Lewis Page writing in The Register observes that Sir David Pepper, Director of GCHQ has noted how difficult it is to monitor conversations on the Internet. It would appear that GCHQ's
"ability to intercept conversations and messages is seriously undermined by internet-protocol (IP) communications."
In his report to the Intelligence and Security Committee the Director reported that the Internet is not quite like the telephone network!
"The Internet uses a very different approach to communications in that, rather than having any sense of fixed lines like that, there is a big network with a number of nodes, but for any individual communicating, their communications are broken up into shorter packets. So whether you are sending an email or any other form ofInternet communication, anything you send is broken up into packets. These packets are then routed around the network and may go in any one of a number of different routes because the network is designed to be resilient…
This [represents] the biggest change in telecoms technology since the invention ofthe telephone. It is a complete revolution…"
Readers in Wales will be interested no doubt to note that the ISC is chaired by The Rt. Hon Paul Murphy, MP (Torfaen) recently appointed Secretary of State for Wales.

In a similar story Nicholas Carr points us to the Washington Post, which notes that
"U.S. intelligence officials are cautioning that popular Internet services that enable computer users to adopt cartoon-like personas in three-dimensional online spaces also are creating security vulnerabilities by opening novel ways for terrorists and criminals to move money, organize and conduct corporate espionage."
It would seem that Linden's Labs virtual world could pose a threat. While we in the UK are wondering whether Second Life could be of educational use, the CIA has moved in and
"created a few virtual islands for internal use, such as training and unclassified meetings, government officials said."
Second Life doesn't need this kind of publicity, so
"Officials from Linden Lab have initiated meetings with people in the intelligence community about virtual worlds. They try to stress that systems to monitor avatar activity and identify risky behavior are built into the technology, according to Ken Dreifach, Linden's deputy general counsel.

Dreifach said that all financial transactions are reviewed electronically, and some are reviewed by people. For investigators, there also are also plenty of trails that avatars and users leave behind.

"There are a real range and depth of electronic footprints," Dreifach said. "We don't disclose those fraud tools.""
Even Big Brother has a Second Life.

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