Category Archives: Distributed Participation

Detection is much more important than prevention –Bruce Schneier

Reviewing Bruce Schneier’s 2004 book Secrets and Lies, much of which was written in 2000, reminds us of something really basic. You can’t just fix security. Security is a process, most of which is about knowing what’s going on. Detection is more important than prevention. To which I add that for detection we need comparable Internet-wide metrics on security performance so every organization can see what’s going on and will have incentive to do something about it because its customers and competitors can see, too. Sound familiar? That’s what is about.

Joe Zack posted in on Bastille Day, 14 July 2013, Secrets and Lies: Nine Years Later,

2. “Detection is much more important than prevention”

Schneier keeps coming back to this point. He had this epiphany in 1999 that “it is fundamentally impossible to prevent attacks” and “preventative countermeasures fail all the time.” Security is “about risk management, that the process of security was paramount, that detection and response was the real way to improve security.” (emphasis mine)

I had formerly thought of security as largely being about prevention. A year ago, if you have asked me about “InfoSec” I might have prattled on about firewalls, injection attacks, encryption and good passwords. That’s still important, but now I know that there’s a lot more to it.

Zack says he thinks Schneier was like Nostradamus for having such insight before NSA PRISM and even before Facebook. Sure, Bruce has always been ahead of his time. But that basic insight was not unique to him, and Continue reading

John Quarterman on Mapping Spam and Politics (audio)

At a meeting on a completely different subject, I was interviewed about Here's the audio, and here's the blurb they supplied:

John S. Quarterman, long time Internet denizen, wrote one of the seminal books about networking prior to the commercialization of the Internet. He co-founded the first Internet consulting firm in Texas (TIC) in 1986, and co-founded one of the first ISPs in Austin (Zilker Internet Park, since sold to Jump Point). He was a founder of TISPA, the Texas ISP Association. Quarterman was born and raised in Lowndes County, where he married his wife Gretchen. They live on the same land where he grew up, and participate in local community and government.

Quarterman took some time during Georgia River Network's Weekend for Rivers to speak with the Nonprofit Snapshot about spam-mapping and small town politics.

More about Elinor Ostrom's Nobel-prize-winning work on organizing the commons, and how that applies to

The water organization has since been incorporated as the Georgia non-profit WWALS Watershed Coalition:

WWALS is an advocacy organization working for watershed conservation of the Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River Systems watershed in south Georgia and north Florida through awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen advocacy.


eCrime Summit in Prague 25-27 April 2012

These ecrime meetings are always interesting and useful. -jsq

Press release of 29 March:

Containing the Global Cybercrime Threat is Focus of Counter eCrime Operations Summit (CeCOS VI) in Prague, April 25-27

CeCOS VI, in Prague, Czech Republic, to focus on harmonizing operational issues, cybercrime data exchange, and industrial policies to strengthen and unify the global counter-ecrime effort.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—The 6th annual Counter eCrime Operations Summit (CeCOS VI) will convene in Prague, Czech Republic, April 25-27, 2012, as the APWG gathers global leaders from the financial services, technology, government, law enforcement, communications sectors, and research centers to define common goals and harmonize resources to strengthen the global counter-cybercrime effort.

CeCOS VI Prague will review the development of response systems and resources available to counter-cybercrime managers and forensic professionals from around the world.

Specific goals of this high-level, multi-national conference are to identify common forensic needs, in terms of the data, tools, and communications protocols required to harmonize cybercrime response across borders and between private sector financial and industrial sector responders and public sector policy professionals and law enforcement.

Key presentations will include:

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Transparency in Rome

Here’s my presentation, Transparency as Incentive for Internet Security: Organizational Layers for Reputation, from RIPE 61 in Rome. This presentation summarizes the two previous RIPE Labs papers about proposed new organizational layers and outbound spam ranking experiments.

RIPE-NCC is the oldest of the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), and RIPE is the deliberately unorganized association of interested parties that meets twice a year and holds discussions online in between. It’s a mix of operations, research, and socializing. Topics range from obscure details of deploying IPv6 to organizational proposals such as what I was talking about. 430 people attended the meeting in Rome, which was quite a few more than the dozen or two of the first RIPE meeting I went to many years ago.

Interesting questions were asked. I may blog some of them.


Daniel Karrenberg and RIPE Atlas

Daniel Karrenberg shows an animation related to RIPE Atlas, RIPE’s new active measurement project using USB-powered dongles scattered around the Internet.

Video by jsq at RIPE 61 in Rome, Italy, 15 Nov 2010. His slides, the RIPE Atlas home page, and the conference will put up video of all the talks within about a day.


PS: My talk is 11AM Rome time tomorrow, Tuesday 16 Nov.

Outbound Spam Ranking Experiments

Should Uganda Telecom be counted as a Belgian ISP for outbound spam rankings?

Which matters most: history, topology, business headquarters location, or some other criterion?

These are some questions that come up in designing experiments in rolling out a reputation system for outbound spam. More on this in the RIPE Labs article (8 Nov 2010), Internet Reputation Experiments for Better Security.

Such experiments can draw on fifty years of social science research and literature, first crystalized as Social Comparison Theory by Leon Festinger in 1954, that indicate that making personal reputation transparent changes personal behavior. More recent research indicates that the same applies to organizations. Using anti-spam blocklist data, it is possible to make E-Mail Service Provider (ESP) behavior (banks, stores, universities, etc., not just ISPs) in preventing or stopping outbound spam transparent, and this paper is about experiments to see how the resulting reputation actually changes ESP behavior.


Organizing the Cloud Against Spam

In RIPE Labs, here’s a paper on Internet Cloud Layers for Economic Incentives for Internet Security by the IIAR Project (I’m the lead author). Anti-spam blocklists and law enforcement are some Internet organizational layers attempting to deal with the plague of spam, so far reaching a standoff where most users don’t see most spam, yet service providers spend large amounts of computing and people resources blocking it.
The root of the ecrime problem is not technology: it is money.
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NANOG: load-balancing facebook and interfacing IPV6 using LISP

Donn Lee talked about LISP Deployment at Facebook. No, not that LISP. This one:
In the current Internet routing and addressing architecture, the IP address is used as a single namespace that simultaneously expresses two functions about a device: its identity and how it is attached to the network. One very visible and detrimental result of this single namespace is manifested in the rapid growth of the Internet’s DFZ (default-free zone) as a consequence of multi-homing, traffic engineering (TE), non-aggregatable address allocations, and business events such as mergers and acquisitions.

LISP changes this by separating IP addresses into two new namespaces: Endpoint Idenfitiers (EIDs), which are assigned to end-hosts, and Routing Locators (RLOCs), which are assigned to devices (primarily routers) that make up the global routing system.

So Lee used that to load-balance facebook, which you can try out here:

If I understood him, he said his group of network engineers did all this without needing to involve software development, because facebook is still “a small, scrappy company” that permits and encourages such things.


Data, Reputation, and Certification Against Spam

I’m giving a talk today at the Internet2 workshop on Collaborative Data-Driven Security for High Performance Networks at WUSTL, St. Louis, MO. You can follow along with the PDF.

There may be some twittering on #DDCSW.