Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Coming World of Absolute Transparency

Duqu, the spy software that paved the way for Stuxnet, the centrifuge-destroying software, and now Flame are designed to gather information; Duqu on centrifuge operations and Flame apparently on much more. They seem to have been designed for the same national entities, Israel and the United States, according to an earlier Times article.

We are constantly warned to protect our own computers and now smartphones, and some of us do. Some don't, perhaps more than do. And people will stick thumb drives into their computers - just too tempting to see what's on them!

So these three are propagating around the world, rather slowly it seems. But others have developed similar malware and use it for their own purposes. That's why we're supposed to protect our computers.

There is an industry that has developed around identifying and protecting against malware. They find it and then take it apart. The nature of malware, that it needs to spread, and the surveillance by these companies, insures that this will happen.

The malware is designed to make information available to the parties that develop it. But other parties have an interest in making the malware known. As more malware is developed and discovered, it becomes easier for more malware developers to develop more malware. Along with making the malware known, some of the information the malware mines becomes available, for more transparency.

Is it possible to control information in that world, which is now our own?

Ralph Langner, one of the uncoverers of Stuxnet, thinks so. But as long as fallible human beings who don't want to be bothered any more than is necessary are running the computers, there will be break-ins and more information will be opened up.

It's not going to happen all at once, but the ultimate end of this seems to be absolute transparency. Information may be sequestered for a time, or a person may be of little enough interest that their information isn't attacked, but all will be pretty much open to all. And that would include government information.


Physics Today said...

David Brin wrote a book on this about 10 years ago called the transparent society. I always thought it was overly optimistic myself.

Unknown said...

This is Paul Guinnessy, not Physics Today.