Singapore will disconnect entire civil service from the internet


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/24/singapore-will-disconnect-enti.html


#2

If there’s a country that can pull off, it would be Singapore. Pliant population (especially in government), highly paid civil servants (don’t want to risk their jobs) and really nasty penalties that are often enforced for breaking the rules… sure things might slow down a bit, but they will find a way to work around it within the rules. Hope they have some strict BYOD rules now…


#3

It definitely wouldn’t work, if a foreign power really wanted to target their systems that happens to be airgapped you just shift your tactics accordingly. You do spearhead attacks on specific individuals, and then get them to unsuspectingly infiltrate the system for you. This was how Stuxnet and similar worms worked in Iran.
There are other techniques for infiltrating/hacking airgapped computers, like listening to the harddrive, or getting computers to communicate via inaudible frequencies on their speakers/mics, and there’s others that escape my mind.


#4

That’s just saying “security is impossible, so don’t bother.” Any system in the world can be compromised; the goal is to make it as difficult as possible.

All of those rely on compromising the target machine to get around the air gap, which requires you to compromise the target machine, which is hard because of the air gap. So it’s functioning as intended, in that regard.


#5

Remove network interfaces, disable USB, disable networking devices at the BIOS level, and place locks on system cases. Tell me again why airgap doesn’t work?
The question is whether computers are still useful in 2016 when they have no connectivity.


#6

Not saying security is impossible, just that infiltration/hacking methods change. And there are existing case studies for airgapped systems being successfully breached.
On the flipside you have some Russian departments using typewriters because they are determined to minimize snooping by foreign powers. So yes, it can be achieved.


#7

Absolutely. Airgaps aren’t perfect security, because there’s no such thing. But there’s a lot of space between perfect security and “definitely wouldn’t work,” which is what you said.


#8

Point taken :slight_smile:


#9

The author has foolishly forgotten that Singapore is a country that still canes people, and spitting or forgetting to flush the toilet are serious crimes.


#10

Take everything back to typewriters and paper. Problem: solved.


#11

I’m trying to deal with a county in Oregon that seems to have adopted that policy. They apparently eschew telephones as well. I’m tempted to admire them for not moving forward from the perfectly adequate systems of the 19th century.


#12

Except you really have to be careful about what you do with discarded material. When East Germany was collapsing, Stasi agents frantically shredded typed documents. But it turns out you can reassemble them given enough effort and these days the process can even be automated.


#13

…until someone steals your old typewriter ribbon and reads it. Or puts a bug in the office that can differentiate the sounds of the keystrokes.


#14

There are a few agencies of the US government in which I would take the opposite approach. Give them unlimited internet access to entertainment sites, streaming video, porn, gambling, you name it, while at “work”.


#15

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