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RE: application for an employment
From: "Craig Wright" <cwright () bdosyd com au>
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2006 08:34:21 +1100


 
 

Hello,

You are correct in that analogy or anecdote may never act as proof. Proof should be determined using scientifically 
verifiable means.

Where you state, “trying and convicting based upon them” is not so correct. The newly codified laws in computer crime 
etc just reflect “criminal damage” as it existed previously. 

Damage and trespass are nothing new. It comes to property rights, which have been defined in common law since the 
1200’s (since 1066 actually).

Mathias was applying for a role of system admin. This does not mean that he should be scanning. In fact, this is a role 
for other departments – i.e. audit. Segregation of duties. I would sack a system admin who took scanning on to 
him/herself without blinking twice.

Regards

Craig

 

        -----Original Message----- 
        From: Kurt Reimer [mailto:greimer () fccc edu] 
        Sent: Fri 24/03/2006 11:48 AM 
        To: security-basics () securityfocus com 
        Cc: 
        Subject: Re: application for an employment
        
        


        Hello All,
              The list of addressees atop these messages seems to be getting
        bigger and bigger, so I'm confining my reply to just the mailing list.
        
              The course of this thread illustrates that the use of analogies
        can't reliably prove a proposition to be right or wrong, but they can
        serve to illustrate different aspects of and viewpoints towards a new
        and interesting situation. Then we can call them good or bad analogies,
        but I think that says more about our pre-existing opinions about the
        situation than it does about anything else.
        
              Having said that, as I read the continuing replies to this
        thread I can't help but feel that I was being way too optimistic when I
        wrote before of my upset with attitudes towards Electronic Security born
        of fear and paranoia that were BECOMING codified into professional,
        ethical, and even legal standards. It seems like I'm much too late! Not
        only are the standards set, but we're already trying and convicting based
        upon them.
        
              I take Mathias' description of his situation to be true and not
        intentionally misleading. And the plain fact is that he had no ill
        intentions toward his prospective employer or anyone else, and everything
        that he did was motivated by mothing other than an eager desire to impress
        and please the organization that he hopes will hire him.
        
              When I read that his behavior is suspect under "the Ethics clauses in
        any of the IT Security Professional's organizations" or that "we all know
        that most, if not all, AUP's (Acceptable Use Policies?) ban this activity"
        then, well, I don't reject that out of hand, but when I see them make a
        pariah (if not an actual criminal) out of an innocent job applicant I have
        to wonder if they are fair and reasonable policies. Certainly they are
        advantageous for and serve the interests of large organizations (and the
        Security Professionals who are employed by them). It's not clear to me
        that they are as advantageous or even fair towards the individual user of
        the Internet or towards the rest of society in general.
        
              The Internet is something new under the sun, and the mores of
        Internet Society are even newer. For that reason alone I'd feel sort of
        presumptuous in making up some rules and then condemning people according
        to them. Maybe the rules need to be in flux for awhile longer. Certainly
        when you consider how tiny a portion of the present Internet Community has
        forged these rules, and how much more of humanity will be accessing the
        Internet for the first time in the coming years and decades, doesn't
        somebody besides me see a little pomposity going on here?
        
              And try as I might, I just can't within my mind equate running a port
        scan with walking onto somebody's property and trying their door and
        window locks. Maybe because it is so easy to do, as easy as typing a URL
        in your browser and looking at the output, just like turning your eyes in
        a particular direction. Maybe it's because everyone on the Internet has
        chosen to make themselves available to everyone else on a shared and
        commonly-paid-for public medium, and the Internet as a whole is much more
        like a great big village public square than it is like people's private
        property. Maybe it's because just about every personal datum  that I
        generate on the Internet, every purchase I make, every website I visit,
        every email I send, is for available for use or sale by someone (if we
        include the government) to all sorts of other people with no percentage
        returned to me, thank you very much.
        
              When all our AUP's and Ethical Standards take no pains to make any
        explicit distinction between someone who runs a port scan and some who
        runs a port scan and then exploits a discovered vulnerability, I'd say
        that those policies are kind of biased. Maybe a healthier attitude would
        be to regard a large organization with an insecure Internet presence
        rather like the way we would regard an individual walking down the street
        with no pants on?
        
              And here's an observation that's got to be from some strange and
        bizarre alternate universe where individuals and deep-pocketed
        corporations with large legal teams are treated equally in the Electronic
        Village: Mathias did not randomly choose an organization upon which to
        run his nefarious portscans. The university that he scanned was SOLICITING
        APPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYMENT. (Now remember, this is the bizarre alternate
        universe, where we do not automatically kowtow in abject gratitude,
        kissing the feet (and whatever other anatomy is shoved in our faces) of
        those who would grace us with the privlege of toiling for them. In this
        bizarre alternate universe the flesh-and-blood citizen dares to consider
        whether or not the *EMPLOYER* is *WORTHY* (gasp) of HIM!). To quote
        another participant in this thread: "It has been my personal experience,
        having audited a University for license compliance alone, that internal
        politics often prevents best practices from being implemented,..".
        
              Maybe, just maybe, Mathias has a RIGHT to an informed decision about
        whether or not he wants to tie his fortunes, his career, his professional
        development, and the next several years of his life (at least) to this
        particular organization. Maybe he has a right to know if he's walking into
        some political morass, and maybe he has a right to data that will help him
        make that determination.
        
              Or maybe he doesn't. But it's certainly true that the University has
        the right to examine below the surface of lots of information that Mathias
        will offer. And if they don't have the right, well then they'll just offer
        you a paper to sign giving them the right to examine your police record,
        credit history, your urine,  and lord knows what else, and of course you
        don't HAVE to sign it, and thanks for your time there's plenty of other
        applicants for the job.
        
              In this country the corporate citizen with limited liability was
        invented during the 19th century. It took several decades before society
        would admit to itself that they'd created an entity which could work poor
        people literally to death, and that maybe some regulatory statutes were a
        good idea.
        
              My sense is that the evolving mores, ethics, and coming along behind
        them the laws, in the Electronic Village (and there is only one) are so
        far much better for the big folks than the little guys.
        
        PS - I wrote most of this in the evenings.
        
        Yours,
        
        Kurt Reimer
        
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