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Re: British Ministers Adopt Unbreakable Crypto



On Mon, 19 Jan 1998, Eric Cordian wrote:

> Bruce Schneier writes:
> 
> > >``There is even a duress finger,'' Rushworth said. ``That is for if a
> > >terrorist or gunman has a gun to the minister's head forcing him to
> > >open the computer. It will appear to function normally but doesn't,
> > >and sends a silent alarm to the Cabinet Office.''
> 
> > This is INSANE.  How could someone be so stupid as to announce
> > such a feature in a newspaper.  I guess this means that if a
> > terrorist sees a Cabinet minister with such a computer, he had
> > better shoot to kill.
> 
> > The whole point of a feature like this is that its existence is secret.
> > Someone is NOT paying attention.
> 
> I don't think the machine is going to do any silent alarming in the
> grounded Faraday cage with the 10 severed fingers lying on a plate next to
> it.

This reminds me of a conversation I had at a recent biometrics exhibition.
One company exhibited hand shape scanners, such as those installed at San
Francisco International Airport to control access to "sensitive" parts of
the airport. [Do not pass security, go straight the "clean" area].

I asked the exhibitor if the scanner would grant access to a hand not
attached to the body. At first, the exhibitor paled and replied that if a
severed hand was part of my thread model (not using these terms), then my
"facility had larger problems than could be solved by access control". The
booth staff, visibly shaken by my insinuation that there are people that
might severe somebody's had to gain access to an environment, kept
following me with their eyes as I walked away from the exhibit.

Seems these amateurs hadn't considered that somebody getting ready to blow
up an airplane with 250 passengers on board just might have relatively few
qualms about detaching the hand of one Filipino airport janitor on his way
to work.

To their credit, the EyeDentify booth staff (the world's sole manufacturer
of retinal scanners), knew what they were doing. Their system checks for
blood flow, etc. A removed eye or a cadaver won't do. Now there is a
company that understands security.

[Disclaimer: I have no connection whatsoever to either manufacturer].

-- Lucky Green <[email protected]> PGP v5 encrypted email preferred.
   "Tonga? Where the hell is Tonga? They have Cypherpunks there?"