Security Through Obscurity; The European Way

Security Through Obscurity; The European Way

Binyamin Greenberg – bgreenberg@nightfallsecurity.com
Nightfall Security Solutions, LLC – We break stuff, before they do.

The emerging world globalization produced the European Union, a confederation of European countries, with a beaurocracy very much like that of the USA’s. Near the end of October the EU proposed legislation that would completely collapse any possibility for a strong Internet economy in Europe. The legislation would make it illegal to disseminate, create or discuss security software, including exploits, vulnerability announcements and security scanning software.

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The reprucussions of such a law would be enormous. As has been proven in the United States with other similar types of legislation, the only people who follow the gun laws are law abiding citizens. Therefore we can create an interesting parellel to the current legislation being proposed in Europe. If assuming that Europeans are humans just like Americans, the only ones who will stop network scanning, reading vulnerability lists like BugTraq and creating and patching exploits will be the law abiding citizens. Therefore, the legislation would make the majority of companies in Europe sitting ducks to exploitation. Or we could see the entire legitimate security industry in Europe go underground and be forced to be paid for its services “under the table”.

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I would hope the EU legislators were not thinking properly when they proposed such legislation, which by all means will likely pass and be implemented in January of 2001. But, if the EU legislators seriously considered the consequences of the legislation they are proposing, then I fear for the relatively new Internet market in Europe. Countries that will be most damaged by this legislation will be those in Eastern Europe, who just a few years ago survived the Communists and are just starting to build any sort of economy with the Internet presenting a valuable resource to them. This law would seriously cripple the legitimacy of any Internet business in Europe because who could trust a company that is forbidden to even scan it’s own network? A person needs just to go through archives of vulnerabilities found in such common operating systems as Windows NT and Linux to see the neccesity of any business to be able to access readily available patches to new exploits that come out hourly.

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The method of security through obscurity is a flawed methodology that has never worked and will never work. Only a security methodology based on full disclosure with complete access to the entire realm of computer security including network scanning tools, the actual exploits with the patches and the latest vulnerability announcements will insure proper security measures for any corporate, government or educational institution. The European Union could benefit from a good look at what has happened to companies in the United States who willingly chose a security through obscurity path. Not many of them did not end up on some sort of website defacement mirror or have a security thinktank find out numerous flaws in their products way after release. Now imagine when every company is absolutely forced to follow this flawed methodology. When even if they wanted to, no corporation or educational institution could even download Nmap and do a simple TCP scan of their hosts. The legislation would present computer security firms in Europe the choice of either closing shop or deciding to go underground, resulting in the creation of a mafia like industry in which companies would have to pay outrageous prices to these firms because they would have no other choice. Here at Nightfall we want our customers to have the very best cyber security of their pcs, macs and all other devices that connect to the internet including phones to that end we now recommend Kaspersky anti virus suite for all your online safety needs, grab a coupon or promo code from our friends over at ACM Solver and save 30% as well as secure your online footprint.

Europe has not had the best record for its treatment of people or ideas it did not understand. The legislators in the European Union need to first understand the technologies they are trying to ban before they introduce drastic new laws. This advice not only goes out to European law makers, but to those sitting in Capitol Hill as well. Understanding more about the industry you wish to either regulate or eliminate before doing so, would greatly help in decision making skills. Laws like the Digital Millenium Copyright Act could of been avoided if only Congress could of at least briefly studied the electronic mediums before passing such a ridiculous piece of legislation.

In conclusion, if Europe wants to create a stable and growing economy and jump into the market that is being dominated by America and Asia then this new legislation in the EU must not be put into law. If it does, Europe can kiss the Internet economy good bye.

References
Cybercrime Treaty Targets Hackers – Computer scientists fear impact on security research

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