I'm afraid I lead today's column with some bad news -- Peter Sinclair, avid
Internet user and Net columnist for the NZ Herald has died after a battle
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
Pete and I exchanged emails from time to time and, although I never met him
face-to-face, I considered him one of the nicer people I've met through
my involvement with this medium and industry.
I'm sure he'll be missed by many.
A Million Bucks For What?
Look out -- the government is really ramping up its justification for pushing
through that Crimes Amendments Bill.
They're now telling us that things are just so bad out there on the Net that
they're going to have to spend nearly a million dollars to set up and operate
a division of the GCSB which it says will protect us from "cyber threats."
Dubbed the Center for Critical Infrastructure, it will effectively be a
duplication of the services offered by
Computer Emergency Response Team
(CERT) in the USA.
Now CERT, and any number of other security watchdogs already do a splendid job
warning Net users about real potential threats on the Net -- so why are we
about to spend $269,000 on gear and another $850,000 per year to run something
which duplicates a huge amount of this functionality?
Hell, even Aardvark and IDG offer regular heads-up as to the latest worms,
viruses, trojans and other online threats at no cost to the government or industry
so what's the justification for spending so much taxpayer's money?
And that's exactly how many hip operations Helen?
Surely this money would be better spent on providing computer resources to
help bridge the significant digital divide we have in this country?
Of course if you really believe that we need to spend nearly a million dollars
a year just to "provide coordination, support and advice on the ways in which
we can maintain and improve our security" then I invite you to send me an email
describing the colour of the sky in your world for surely it isn't blue.
The interesting thing is that this team will supposedly protect the Internet
infrastructure -- but, to the best of my knowledge, all of NZ's Internet
infrastructure is owned by commercial operators. The provision of such a
service amounts to a free handout to those operators. Yes folks, it seems
that YOUR tax dollars will effectively be used to provide a free (or below-cost)
service to companies such as Telecom.
Quite frankly, I can think of more deserving causes myself.
Why can't Telecom and the other providers of Internet infrastructure look after
their own security -- it's not rocket science and, since virtually all the
threats originate from outside our borders, we'll hear about it first from CERT
or some other source anyway!
No -- I can see the spin right now: "We need the draconian measures of the CAB
because things are already so bad that we're having to spend nearly a million
dollars a year to protect NZ's Internet infrastructure."
Don't be duped folks!
If the government is really serious about providing such a service then I
invite them to drop me a line. I'm sure I can offer the same service
at a *much* better price so that the rest of those tax dollars can be
applied to more important things, such as clearing patients from the
corridors of our hospitals.
We ought to remember that governments and their departments are not widely
renowned for their aptitude in online security and are therefore perhaps
not a wise place to spend this money anyway.
Aardvark also makes a summary of this daily column available via XML using
the RSS format. More details can be found