Invasion of the Body Scanners; You Got Xserved; BGP Gets Hijacked;

By eWEEK Labs  |  Posted 2010-11-30 Print this article Print

TSA Invasion of the Body Scanners
When you're trying to get millions of people to buy into a security program, you usually talk about it first. Not so with the Nov. 1 introduction of invasive imaging and physical searches of U.S. airline passengers. The efficacy of the new search procedures isn't at issue here.

What qualifies the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) for a special technology callout is the idea that the element of surprise offers any meaningful protection in a high-volume system such as air travel. The health and civil liberty questions raised by the use of these technologies and techniques are fair game for discussion in an open society. Springing these changes as a fait accompli is a classic illustration of how to get a new security policy started on the wrong foot.

-Cameron Sturdevant

You Got Xserved
When the Xserve debuted in 2002 as Apple's first 1U rack mount server, the company was still groping for a mission. iPhone and iPad were far off in the future, and even long-time Apple fans were wondering if the iPod was going to succeed or be another flop for the company. At the time, it seemed like a well-hedged bet: The Xserve found a loyal following among academics and in Hollywood, but it failed to capture the hearts of IT.

But earlier this year, Apple chose to pass up the opportunity to upgrade Xserve to the latest Intel Westmere processors-the implementation of which would have required minimal effort from Apple's engineering team. Instead, it decided to terminate the Xserve with less than three months' notice to its customers. The company's loyal big-iron accounts received, as an early lump of coal in their stockings, Apple's advice to either make do with the Mac Mini Server or to make room in their server cabinets for the bulky (13U) Mac Pro.

-P. J. Connolly

BGP Gets Hijacked
Early in 2010, a substantial chunk of the world's Internet traffic was routed through Chinese service providers-apparently through the use of false BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) routes. On April 8, network tables claiming that the best path from point A to point B ran through China caused traffic intended for Dell, IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo, as well as Uncle Sam, to be routed through the networks of China Telecom.

Although the diversion lasted only 18 minutes, the affected traffic was addressed to about 15 percent of the Internet destinations, and included the U.S. Senate; the Commerce and Defense departments; the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps; NASA; NOAA; and other branches of the federal government. When the Internet was first implemented, it ran on the honor system. Unfortunately, honor is a commodity in short supply in the real world, and an implementation of BGP that's secured against accidental or deliberate subversion is long overdue.

-P. J. Connolly


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