Mike Elgan on Openness vs. secrecy – the case of Apple vs. Google  30.10.10

Mike Elgan compares the alleged openness of Google an with the notoriously secretive Jobsian empire. Suprising discovery is that every company has its secret sauce, the recipe of which is stored in iron boxes or, modern times, in encrypted databases:

The companies are different, and what they’re “open” about reflects that difference. For example, Trump is very secretive about pending real estate transactions, but would probably be happy to share the details of food served at one of his golf courses. McDonald’s on the other hand, isn’t all that secretive about real estate transactions but they’re very secretive or “closed” about their Secret Sauce.

In other words, companies are very closed, secretive, and controlling about the part of their business that makes the money. (via gruber)

Reminds me of the interesting question who has or wants which secret sauce in the area internet security?

Pentagon’s point about harmfulness of openness  25.10.10

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Pentagon doesn’t heartily embrace the leakage of some 400,000 classified records covering unfavourable Iraq incidents. The line is familiar among students of security institutions: Openness would be detrimental to security by creating new vulnerabilities. In the words of Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morell:

“Potentially what one could mine from a huge data base like this are vulnerabilities in terms of how we operate, our tactics, our techniques, our procedures, the capabilities of our equipment, how we respond in combat situations, response times — indeed how we cultivate sources,” Morrell said. “All of that, [given the] thinking and adaptive enemy we’ve been facing in Iraq and Afghanistan, can be used against us.”

(Source: Smallwarjournal.com; similar in an press conference early August)

Openness, i.e. sharing operational and tactical information with adversaries, can create opportunities for adversaries to mitigate attack or defence capabilities. Can. Potentially. But what are the real costs of openness? And how do they compare to societal, political, and humanitarian costs of closure?

The security risk of bad security-provisioning design  10.6.10

I’ve pointed out earlier some of the research questions for social scientific internet governance research. The main issues I described there are:

  1. There is a lack of empirical analysis undertaken by social scientists, who are not affiliated with biased agencies engaged in turf-wars or the fear-mongering security industry, about the scale, quality and impact of internet security issues. Furthermore, existing institutions have hardly been researched.
  2. Ongoing debates in the political sphere often refer to an lack-of-enforceability argument. More often than not, these arguments fail to be backed by scientific findings.
  3. The geopolitical dimension of internet security is under-researched.
  4. The potentially disruptive impact of internet-based collaboration on traditional security provisioning processes is to be explored. We can observe these discourses about new forms of distributed collaboration everywhere, but not in the field internet security governance.

The main issue for social sciences however to provide guidance for institutional and organisation design for internet security governance.


Ad-hoc defense system protecting railway embankment against Danube flood