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No Internet “kill Switch” For Australia

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the always-open dept.

Australia 152

An anonymous reader writes "Well, it looks as though at least some Governments have a backbone. Egypt switched off its internet to stop protests over the past few days, and the US Government is considering legislation that will give the President 'kill switch' powers over the internet as well. But in Australia, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy — best known for his attempt to filter the country's internet for child pornography and the country's flagship national fibre broadband rollout, says such a scenario couldn't occur."

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When can we get rid of this guy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088176)

Seriously, this guy does nothing but cause issues for us Aussies!

Re:When can we get rid of this guy? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088220)

Well I did my bit by putting him last on the Victorian senate voting slip.

Re:When can we get rid of this guy? (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088246)

Honestly? The only way to get rid of unelected officials is constitutional reform. I really thought this was going to be the generation to do it, but it seems there's too many of us around who have fond memories of standing on the assembly ground to God Save The Queen.. and we can't talk about changing the constitution without talking about finally pulling our finger out and cutting the safety line to mother England. Or, ya know, we could petition the US to become their 52nd state - right after Israel.. I keed, I keed!

Re:When can we get rid of this guy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088256)

umm? He's an elected member of parliament?

Re:When can we get rid of this guy? (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088336)

a senator of a major political party, yes.. two words: proportional representation.

Re:When can we get rid of this guy? (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088362)

As long as Conroy gets his face in the media he is pretty much guaranteed a seat in the senate.

Re:When can we get rid of this guy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088704)

Doesn't PR effectively guarantee permanent seats in parliament for the most important people in each political party?

What's worse than constitutional monarchy? How about a constitutional "reform" that gives the highest-ranking party members unelected jobs for life. You complain about the Queen, you don't know how lucky you are.

Re:When can we get rid of this guy? (1)

puterg33k (1920022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088366)

I hate the brits far more than you my friend... Funny joke, if you only knew.

Re:When can we get rid of this guy? (1)

scotty.m (1881826) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088432)

Hey guise! We gotta stop the spams and scams coming through the portal!!
I agree, the bloke is an epic twat. But he's good at wasting large amounts of money, I'll give him that

Weather (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088182)

With the weather they have I don't think they need one.

Re:Weather (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088240)

Funnily enough a lot of people on the coast where the cyclone hit are reporting fair 3G coverage and usable internet access. Its probably less vulnerable than power because it is either buried cables or wireless. Queensland is tropical and the weather there is often quite wild. The teletext service used to (maybe still does) operate out of channel 7 in Brisbane and it was always going down due to massive electrical storms.

Re:Weather (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088544)

Its probably less vulnerable than power because it is either buried cables or wireless

... until it floods.

Re:Weather (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088644)

I take your point but back in my traffic signaling days I had a lot of sites flood and we got through it. The phone cables in Melbourne are called the secondary storm water system by the techs who see the pits and pipes flood regularly. I have seen the concrete floor in a computer room with 10cm of water over it. You just had to lift a tile and there it was. We had 250VAC in cables tacked to the concrete but the wet stuff stayed out and the systems stayed up. The floods in FNQ [wikipedia.org] are coastal anyway. Associated with high tides and low air pressure.

Re:Weather (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088784)

The towers are built to "cyclone proof" standards, and many of the towers are on backup generators. Coverage is expected to get worse before it gets better because the backups only last 8-12 hrs. But I think those backup generators will be pretty high up on the emergency service todo list.

Re:Weather (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088972)

The towers are built to "cyclone proof" standards, and many of the towers are on backup generators. Coverage is expected to get worse before it gets better because the backups only last 8-12 hrs. But I think those backup generators will be pretty high up on the emergency service todo list.

Ten years ago when I was in vic roads we were giving up our UHF channel space and using cellular phones. Keeping cellphones working will be as important as keeping ambulances on the road I reckon.

Re:Weather (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089194)

Funnily enough a lot of people on the coast where the cyclone hit are reporting fair 3G coverage and usable internet access. Its probably less vulnerable than power because it is either buried cables or wireless.

How is that any different from power? Almost all of that is underground too.

Re:Weather (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088516)

Being a resident of Cairns I can tell you this.

The internet and the consistant amount of communication which came from local council, phone companies, media and just regular people trapped in the storm it really helped minimise casualities. At one stage I had a work colleague who was in the eye of the storm "looking at the stars" Twittering all about it and I was reading about it on my iPad. Further UStream was awsome, you could watch live video feeds of the cyclone from each town as it was hitting in different areas (granted eventually the power died in most places).

I believe natural disasters such as floods and cyclones offer satisfactory grounds to put a stop to this internet kill switch notion.

After being in this Cyclone I can tell you such a notion doesnt get my vote!

Short on popularity (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088186)

The current Government barely made it back in to office at the last election. They need every cheap shot they can think of to boost their popularity ratings. I assume the algorithm in use here is that Conroy scans the Daily(tm) on his iPad(tm) at the start of the week, picks a bit of news relevant to his constituency which looks bad, and composes a speech saying he won't do that. Repeat next week and so on.

Re:Short on popularity (4, Insightful)

bug1 (96678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088376)

Conroy was asked the question by a journalist, it wasnt a press release or something.

Judge for yourself here is the clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-Gn4SjNY3U [youtube.com]

If you wish to be fair, how about a critical response to the oppositions approach to the Internet.

Re:Short on popularity (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088390)

If you wish to be fair, how about a critical response to the oppositions approach to the Internet.

Its a fair question.

Re:Short on popularity (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088964)

Ok, let's be fair. Journalist asks question. Politician standard program:

1. Calculate support gained when answering pro: In this case, nil. Who'd be interested in the government shutting down the internet?
2. Calculate support gained when answering contra: In this case, slim. A few geeks would like it.

Slim > nil, hence answer is "No kill switch in Aussieland".

Politicians could be replaced with a pretty small script, thinking about it...

They'll have an NBN switch anyway. (1)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089046)

Switching off the NBN will switch off the Internet.

Re:Short on popularity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089300)

Politicians could be replaced with a pretty small script, thinking about it...

The tricky part is working out the demographics of your constituency. But, it's not that hard and I think we'd do just fine if we could vote for AIs.

And, of course, I'd want a set of AIs to figure out which politician (human or not) best represented my interests, and the likelihood of delivery on promises.

It would be really interesting to see the change in the political climate if you had a huge block of people who, instead of looks, celebrity and soundbites, voted largely on their interests.

Re:Short on popularity (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088808)

This is because nobody told him that fiber lands in less than 10 points around Australia.

Not that it is any different in other places. There are not that many areas around the coast of a coastal nation which are geologically stable and have no fishermen. Most have to actually legislate them and and mark the relevant zones as no-anchor/no-fishing.

Internet kill workaround (0)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088202)

So if the USA government is planning to implement an internet kill switch in the future
Then I need to be planning a way to get around it when it gets shut down

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088222)

Wi-Fi "bucket chain" from Canada or Mexico.

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088274)

Amateur satellites or maybe high altitude balloon or UAV based links. Pirate cellular services from aircraft, packet switched TCP/IP for the satellite services. Maybe you could build an ad-hoc store and forward messaging system with weather balloons. Each unit collects data and dumps it when contacted from the ground. Units can replicate data when they contact each other. Data is lost when they crash.

Use a CDMA like protocol to pack data into frequencies below 50Mhz. Ionospheric propagation, particularly at night should get your signal 1000km or so.

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088392)

There's already enough dumb pipe satellites in orbit, the kind that are unlikely to be removed. You can just leech off of those. You'll just need enough nodes that are connected to a wireless mesh that have sat uplink to those.

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088412)

Do you mean normal comsats? Don't you need some sort of key to use them?

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088924)

The vast majority of commercial satellites are just simple repeaters - nothing stops anyone from aiming a signal up and getting a good downlink other than cost of equipment. It's not nearly as expensive these days, though still not cheap. From time to time you do see unwanted signals, mostly it's accidental though, uplink forgot to switch off at the end of their contract, maybe didn't pay their bill on time, operator typed the wrong frequency in to the up converter, etc. One fairly effective way to deal with the problem is to sweep a CW spike over the errant signal until it goes away.

Re:Internet kill workaround (4, Interesting)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088266)

Well, RFC 1149 worked for Egypt

Re:Internet kill workaround (2)

Troll-Under-D'Bridge (1782952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088422)

Yes. Try RFC 1149 [ietf.org] , otherwise known as IP over Avian Carriers [wikipedia.org] (IPoAC). You might need to substitute a more common discrete winged media though, say, bat or bumblebees. Just make sure you train them well (or use some strong pheromones), or you'll be getting massive packet loss.

(The RFC actually describes the sending of datagrams written on slips of paper strapped to the leg of the carrier pigeon. A more practical method would be to load the carrier with a flash drive containing gigabytes rather than bits of data.)

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088458)

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088974)

Considering that they break up in the atmosphere, would that allow multicasting?

Re:Internet kill workaround (2)

enter to exit (1049190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088272)

Egypt got around the internet blackout with dial-up BBS's and the likes of UUCP

Re:Internet kill workaround (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088470)

Why are people letting the US govt away with this? An internet kill switch sounds an awful lot like a violation of free speech, especially if they're thinking of using it in the same way the Egyptian govt did. The constitution is starting to look like a bad joke.

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088978)

The constitution has already been reduced to a bad joke, get over it. The only thing left is the 2nd, and it's only 'cause it really doesn't matter whether you have a gun as long as the army has bigger ones and more.

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089202)

The constitution has already been reduced to a bad joke, get over it.

You seem to be quite willing to go down without a fight, even with the pleasure of being so "smart" that you didn't give a sweat... You will worth your faith of staying in line, not daring to utter any word, at the mercy of whatever bureaucrat or corporate puppy the time will put on top of you. You might be opportunistic enough to become such a puppy, but... won't take long to lose your position.

I've experienced it for the first 25 years of my life, in Eastern Europe under communist regimes.

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089378)

The constitution has already been reduced to a bad joke, get over it

I'm not American for one thing. I found the "land of the free, we're awesome" stuff quite tiresome even before it did start becoming a joke, but now it's worse. I don't want to get over the fact that such a previously vocal group is now letting the government shit all over them, but often still pretending like the US is number 1 in every way. I want people to get a grip.

Re:Internet kill workaround (0)

cold fjord (826450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089158)

- Why are people letting the US govt away with this? An internet kill switch sounds an awful lot like a violation of free speech, especially if they're thinking of using it in the same way the Egyptian govt did.

National emergencies occur for more reasons than suppressing the population to keep a dictator in office for a 31st year. I'm sure if you thought about it you could come up with some reasons.

The US pulled the equivalent of an "Airline kill switch" on 9/11.

I'm sure nobody has ever threatened to invade Australia.

- The constitution is starting to look like a bad joke.

It's in fine shape. The US just had one of the biggest changes in the legislature in 70 years, and the massive power grab that is Obamacare is being defeated in court.

Re:Internet kill workaround (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089302)

National emergencies occur for more reasons than suppressing the population to keep a dictator in office for a 31st year. I'm sure if you thought about it you could come up with some reasons.

No, I really can't think of any good reasons that don't have other solutions.

What "national emergency" will arise such that the govt needs to shut down all internet access? It makes no sense. If they want to take all government sites offline while they shore up security (similar to shutting down airlines while there is a significant danger) that's fine, but why shut down everything else? If a bank is being hacked, shut down the bank's site. If the stock exchange is being hacked, shut down the stock exchange. Blanket shutting down of everything only seems useful to stop public communications. It would be pretty pointless against an organised military force.

Re:Internet kill workaround (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089240)

Why are people letting the US govt away with this? An internet kill switch sounds an awful lot like a violation of free speech, especially if they're thinking of using it in the same way the Egyptian govt did. The constitution is starting to look like a bad joke.

The government has always had the ability to somewhat blackout the media in certain situations, such as time of war, during martial law, etc. I'm pretty sure that such a "kill switch" would fall under the exact same regulations and guidelines as their existing ability to kill telephone, TV, and other communications channels.

But if they're really worreid about rights issues, they can still shut off all international peering; as long as they don't tamper with communications solely within the US it's not violating any rights, those tend to stop at the borders.

KIll switch alternatives (3, Interesting)

Angostura (703910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088258)

OK, I'll stick my head above the parapet, because I'm interested in getting opinions.

Let's assume for a second that the kill-switch proponents are acting from the best of motives. They are worried about the potential for a huge, effective, external Internet attack on critical infrastructure, that could do the worst things - cut power, stop water , turn all the traffic lights red - you've seen the movies.

They are concerned that it such an attack occurs the population will be screaming "Why didn't you plan, why don't you stop it, how come you can't turn external connections off, you bozos?".

So they are planning and worrying - as they should.

What is wrong, in principle with a killswitch, if the correct checks and balances are in place? What is a better solution?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (4, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088290)

Take responsibility for the security of the services you host on the internet?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (3, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088816)

Would that include a kill switch, or not?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

cold fjord (826450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089078)

Because that has been a model of success for preventing worms, spam, botnets, DDOSm and all the other old internet security problems? I guess the critical infrastructure is safe then, even in the event of direct attacks on it.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (3, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088344)

because they are setting up an attack vector, where none existed, that could be used to bring down the internet.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

cold fjord (826450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089086)

Obviously there would be no safeguards built in.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089174)

which would probably be as safe as if they did put safe guards in

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088352)

Why do services such as power, water, and traffic lights have to be on-line? Wouldn't it make sense not to have any sensitive services connected to the Internet in the first place?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088514)

Why do services such as power, water, and traffic lights have to be on-line? Wouldn't it make sense not to have any sensitive services connected to the Internet in the first place?

Well okay but consider that I have been involved in supporting air traffic control systems around the world. None of them are connected to the Internet but the people who manage them are absolutely reliant on the Internet to exchange information about the systems they manage.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088814)

None of them are connected to the Internet but the people who manage them are absolutely reliant on the Internet to exchange information about the systems they manage.

In which case turning OFF the Internet would accomplish... what?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088958)

None of them are connected to the Internet but the people who manage them are absolutely reliant on the Internet to exchange information about the systems they manage.

In which case turning OFF the Internet would accomplish... what?

It would make those people unable to keep the infrastructure they manage working correctly.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088820)

That's reasonable, but a kill-switch would only hurt the communications, not help them.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089048)

This is correct. But there are still other means of communication that could be used to work around the problem until the internet can be brought back. It would certainly lead to a few more traffic jams, but we're a far cry from the meltdown of civilization as we know it.

Not to mention, as has been said before, that shutting down the internet would not really help if the problem is that the internet has become unavailable.

economics (1)

nten (709128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088648)

Power companies lower their prices by instantly selling excess, and instantly buying extra power rather than fire up backup natural gas generators that are less efficient (in the US). The communications links used for this would be too expensive to build as new stand alone links. They really should be through VPNs or better yet, hardware AES links or something.

Water has few if any excuses that I know of.

Traffic lights have the best ones. To manage city-wide traffic there has to be communication between proximate intersections. And putting crytpo in the lights at an intersection isn't an easy fix. Putting different keys in each light would be a nightmare, and if you don't, physical access to one light compromises the whole system. If you have central control, that center can have each light's public key, thats not so bad, but a central control point might not be the most robust system in the first place.

These systems need to communicate, dedicated communication lines are too expensive, crypto is hard to do right and hence, also expensive. Crypto is the answer we need to move towards I think, its ultimately more secure than dedicated lines, and might even cost less.

Re:economics (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089076)

Power companies: Shutting down the internet would not solve their problem of buying/selling. They could still not buy/sell, because the resource used to do it has turned from crippled to unavailable. That does not improve anything. Quite the opposite.

Traffic lights: I know not a single traffic light system in any city I have had the honor of working for that relies on the internet to connect their traffic light systems. Either, if they really need to adjust them in real time, they have their own cables (since they dictate who digs where and when, they can very easily and cheaply drop a cable here or there), or, like most, they have more or less clever sneakernet solutions that coordinate through synchronized times. I was quite amazed myself, but it works pretty well.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (5, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088358)

Egypt shows that the killswitch can't be used for more than a week or so because business and Government both complain that they need it to do their work and keep things running. If it lasted a week in Egypt I reckon it would last a day in the US. At the same time people are good networkers and they know how to get the word out. An intranet can be a wifi card and a copy of mediawiki, though I am sure the solutions used in Egypt were pretty low tech. In short the kill switch does more damage than good. It can't be used for any length of time and it is pretty easy to work around. You may as well switch off the water and see how far you get.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088364)

Actually, I think that the idea that the NSA doesn't already have one in place is pretty far-fetched. The real question, to me, is: what would cause them to actually use it?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088380)

Actually, I think that the idea that the NSA doesn't already have one in place is pretty far-fetched. The real question, to me, is: what would cause them to actually use it?

A leak which they couldn't stop in time.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

Enigma23 (460910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088874)

Actually, I think that the idea that the NSA doesn't already have one in place is pretty far-fetched. The real question, to me, is: what would cause them to actually use it?

A leak which they couldn't stop in time.

I think that Wikileaks has already consistently beaten them to the punch on that score; all it takes is one person with the data leak on a USB flash drive to get to a satellite phone, a data com uplink, a POTS modem or over the border into the US or Mexico and it's game over.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

puterg33k (1920022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088382)

Watch out you don't step in this mans PROPAGANDA.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088384)

Just how critical is your "critical infrastructure" if you can render it unusable (i.e. take it offline), at a moments notice, and would prefer to do so as an alternative to it being destroyed?

The only difference between taking it offline and destroying it, is that it (might) take longer to bring back online afterwards, if it's destroyed.

It's like saying "enemy bombers are about to bomb our city" and responding: "to prevent this, we'll burn the city down!".

What you should have, as your counter-strategy, is to shoot down the bombers. Invest in anti-aircraft guns, if it's such a likely possibility. Don't think that you're solving the problem by passing a law that says you get to burn everything. Law or no law, you'll be fighting tooth-and-nail against your own populace if it comes down to civil servants with torches trying to burn things down, because, hey: people like their stuff (and their internet) more than they like you.

The fact that perhaps it's easier to rebuild burn ruins than bombed ruins isn't much of a benefit, even if it is faster; this is especially true for anyone who happened to need for their to be a city that they could use during that time. How have you helped them, exactly?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088842)

"The only difference between taking it offline and destroying it, is that it (might) take longer to bring back online afterwards, if it's destroyed."

Systems control is a mature field, I don't think the engineers who built such "critical" infrastruture would make it relaint on the internet without some sort of contingency.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (4, Insightful)

dutchd00d (823703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088394)

Secure the infrastructure that you expose to the internet. Make sure that no evil-doers can get in. If there *is* an attack and it all goes horribly wrong disconnect the infrastructure. No need to pull down the entire network.

If you want to stop burglars you put a lock on your door, you don't dig up the street that they use to get to your door.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089214)

Ahh "secure" it, now why didn't I think of that? You do realise it's not quite as simple as following RFC 3514 right? Also "disconnect the infrastructure" sounds remarkably like, well, a kill switch to me.

Face it just about any govt that still has control of its military and police forces already has a "kill switch", march some official-looking men with guns into key ISP facilities and ask them nicely to turn it off.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088448)

ISPs aren't retarded, if they *wanted* to they could cut any incoming external connections and limit internet traffic to mainland US. Why they don't just worry about putting floodgates at the few tubes leading out of the country boggles my mind.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088620)

What is wrong, in principle with a killswitch, if the correct checks and balances are in place?

Because the guy with his finger on the button is judge, jury, and executioner. Checks and balances are fine until the government grants themselves "special powers" and does whatever the hell it was going to do anyway.

But apart from that, no, nothing is wrong with it.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088666)

OK, I'll stick my head above the parapet, because I'm interested in getting opinions.

Let's assume for a second that the kill-switch proponents are acting from the best of motives. They are worried about the potential for a huge, effective, external Internet attack on critical infrastructure, that could do the worst things - cut power, stop water , turn all the traffic lights red - you've seen the movies.

They are concerned that it such an attack occurs the population will be screaming "Why didn't you plan, why don't you stop it, how come you can't turn external connections off, you bozos?".

So they are planning and worrying - as they should.

What is wrong, in principle with a killswitch, if the correct checks and balances are in place? What is a better solution?

good one, will be writen about at http://bitmantra.com

Re:KIll switch alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088782)

So, basically, you're saying that we should take movie-plot (literally!) scenarios seriously, that the cover-your-ass approach to security is good and valid, and that something must be done and this is something, therefore we must do it?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088786)

What is wrong, in principle with a killswitch, if the correct checks and balances are in place? What is a better solution?

The correct checks and balances do not exist. The "kill switch" is to contact the ISP and ask them to stop routing traffic. If the ISP is not a common carrier and fails to do this immediately, hold them accountable for the traffic. If they are a common carrier then give them some time to get it dealt with. The legal system exists to handle this already.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088858)

...Internet attack on critical infrastructure, that could do the worst things - cut power, stop water , turn all the traffic lights red - you've seen the movies.

For each such piece of infrastructure, there are two possibilities:

  • It needs the internet in order to function, in which case an internet kill switch will also kill it.
  • It doesn't need the internet in order to function, in which case it shouldn't be on the internet in the first place.

Basically, I don't see any reasonable circumstance where a killswitch would be useful for its stated purpose.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088876)

Turning the traffic lights green would be more effective

Re:KIll switch alternatives (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088926)

So in your scenario they plan for an attack. What's the worst an attack could do - I'd venture it's to shut the entire internet down. So at the first sign of attack they will skip straight to the worst-case scenario? Under what conditions would a full scale takedown be less destructive than an attack?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089040)

First of all, forget everything you've seen in the movies. EVERY SINGLE THING.

NO single piece of critical infrastructure is accessible through the internet. Not a single one. If it is, unhook it. NOW! Not when the big DDoS strikes, do it now and find a solution around it. The internet is in its current state NOT a reliable, tamper and fail proof means of communication. Funny, that's what it was designed to be. Unfortunately, it evolved past this, has become commercial and it is by no means as resilient anymore as it was when ARPA was still in charge. But I digress.

Every single organization and infrastructure that needs a means of communication has one outside the internet. Of course, they use the internet for communication, too, but only for non critical things that are not directly connected to the core operation of the facility, like administration and other non operation critical communication.

How should such an "attack" be executed? Overloading the network, aka DDoS? Pointless. You would cripple internet communication, which does not affect any other form of communication. It may be a bit inconvenient to return to phones, but they work and should be sufficient until internet communication can be restored. Not to mention that the kill switch would cause the same effect: End of internet communication.

Control of the facility or infrastructure? Hardly possible.

Power/water/gas/whatever plants: No power plant can be remote controlled. At least in no country (that I know the safety requirements for power plants of) it is permissible to control anything remotely that could possibly lead to a damage to the facility or anyone inside or around it.
Traffic lights: Are not controlled via internet but have their own network, where they are networked. Most are standalone and locally controlled or under the control of a local facility, using dedicated means of connection, not connected to the internet.

Destruction of infrastructure? Not possible. As mentioned above, power plants may not be remote controlled. Pipes/valves could be controlled, but have to have technical safety features that would avoid destruction.

So please give me a scenario where an internet attack could actually do some damage to any kind of infrastructure. As far as I can see, all you could accomplish is that accounting gets cut off and the bills get sent out late. And, be honest, would you mind getting your power bill late?

Re:KIll switch alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089132)

What checks and balances? The government always manages to abuse them. Not to mention that even if they didn't, I'd rather risk an 'attack' than have the government controlling speech.

Can't do that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089236)

"Let's assume for a second that the kill-switch proponents are acting from the best of motives."

No. I am beyond the point where I could assume that ANY expansion of government power or revenue is being done for my benefit. Governments of "first world" countries are richer and more powerful today than ever. They do NOT need more power. They do NOT need more revenue. What they need is a re-allocation and downsizing of the vast mountains of power and revenue they already have.

At this point, the only changes government could make for my benefit involve *reducing* their levels of power and revenue. And as we all know, that ain't going to happen. There's a reason why every year government costs more, seizes more power over the people, and assumes control over an ever-expanding jurisdiction -- and it's not because making government bigger is unprofitable for the elite who run the business of government.

Re:KIll switch alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35089394)

What is wrong, in principle with a killswitch, if the correct checks and balances are in place? What is a better solution?

Well to start with the term "Kill Switch" isn't defined at all, anywhere. Are we talking about some kind of automated system? Are we talking about adding a special government login to all the core internet routers so they can just shut them down? The Devil is in the details, and we have none right now.

We really don't need to implement any kind of technology solution. We already can easily shut down traffic to/from any ip space we want to. All it takes is a someone to say "do it" and the people with the right access to actually do it. If this "kill switch" is simply a pre-determined set of procedures, and a clear communication chain between the White House and the Tier1 internet providers, a few brief phone calls is all it would take to shut down any IP space within a few minutes.

That's nice. (4, Insightful)

enter to exit (1049190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088260)

If any government is facing a threat it will do anything it needs to protect itself, regardless of laws. Having or not having a law will not make the slightest difference in the face of a real emergency.

Re:That's nice. (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088408)

The only problem is people aren't pissed off enough to do the sensible thing. Why riot and protest, just equip enough snipers and snipe top ranking officials.
1. Dictators giving you the blues? Snipe away.
2. ?
3. Instant freedom.

Re:That's nice. (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088528)

4. instantly replaced by a even worse despot who ...
5. ... profits!

Re:That's nice. (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089356)

Dunno, byt the GP wording, it is more like
4. Instantly replaced by a even worse despot who...
5. is snipped away shortly after.
6. ???????
7. Civil war.

Only at the moment. (1)

Ponyegg (866243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088276)

Until such time as they see fit to pass 'emergency' legislation to grant executive powers to do so. As John Gilmore identified though "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."... the data will flow... somehow.

Sure they would (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088386)

It's just a feel good thing to say that you would never do that.

They are legislating for the power to control the internet with the filter...?

The claim that it is for Child Pornography is just a very family friendly reason as study's have shown that real offenders would easily get around the filter.

1st Amendment Violantion in US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088484)

Wouldn't this violate the first amendment?
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

I mean the internet is one of the main outlets for the freedom of speech wouldn't it be the same as the government shutting down all newspapers if they were speaking out against the government in protests?

FFS - NBN is a kill switch (2)

tqft (619476) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088510)

NBN rolled out with almost all traffic traveling over a backbone controlled by ine entity is a kill switch.

A single point of failure with one control system and a major control interface?

Who needs legislation when you control the router tables?

All the other isps will interconnect. That just leaves the very few submarine cables and satellites to manage.

A big Hi to the people at DSD.

Re:FFS - NBN is a kill switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088736)

No doubt DSD have been documenting the how while the AG has been writing up the when/where/why. But a kill-switch in a country under the guise of democracy? No, it's all about profiling.

The realtime tracking of net traffic (because that's AFP current ability, as I know from techs) over at iinet and friends.. is about to change. The good old overtime shift for a Telstra tech down at the local exchange with the AFP (I've heard all about it from one I know).. is about to change.

The mandatory retention scheme being developed as quietly as possible is what's about to hit. There's no need for a Room 641A in each exchange just now since that's too much information and seeing as taps are so easy to get for the currently digestable amount. But the Narus(tm) processing and profiling plus years of storage is what is to come, and all the NBN fibre in a cabinet will happen - when the government can draw up a national connectivity graph, they can figure out plenty.

TL;DR
That's a tor exit node, but which 5-10 places could that pulse of packets have come from? Which couple does our massive trove of social/banking/etc data narrow it down to? Ok, let's raid the houses and take all electronics - blame the computer if we're flat out wrong or can't pin enough on this dissident group! Foreign intermediary nodes and encryption would make it harder to correlate things, yes, but not impossible if both end nodes are in Aus.

code for "we are drafting legislation" (1)

evanism (600676) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088520)

Do NOT trust Stephen Conroy. This is code for "we are studying it, probably have it, and legislation is due to be tabled within weeks"

Re:code for "we are drafting legislation" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088868)

Aside from Conroy's NBN Master Plan(tm), his domestic internet policy is now in the hands of Attorney General McClelland.

Censorship is trivial to get around, and the laughing stock of the Australian IT industry now.. but Mandatory Retention(tm) is coming to Australia. The ISPs can't tell the public, the government won't and the opposition love the defence and intelligence industries too much to use it as a counterpoint

Thanks to that golden National Security(tm) callcard, the who/what/when/where/why and how of any data mining will be very secret. The scant few details we know won't help us with the ones we don't - what good is knowing where and how traffic is being duplicated if you don't know how it's being profiled? FOIA doesn't help on that, and even if we do, the intelligence agencies are nearly impossible to sue.

Isnt this against the point of the internets (1)

qwerty8ytrewq (1726472) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088524)

I understand that the internet was invented/evolved as a robust distributed system that allowed communication specifically even when subject to attack or damage. Having a 'kill switch' is completely against the core purpose. as mentioned earlier, you just introduce an attack vector that was engineered not to exist. just get enought leverage against the killswitch operator and you can cause major damage.

I speculate that this is a major reason behind tiered internet. the kill switch can shutdown only the 'low tier' users of the internet, (punters, small businesses, the small fish, whatever). But, the top tier (military, corporation, gov, banking,power generation, big fish, ) can keep running unaltered (maybe even faster, and with more hardening). In this situation, the killswitch looks a lot more useful, or at least useable.

Are kill switches the most effective method? (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088550)

A kill switch lets people know that it has been flipped. Things stop functioning entirely, and the net "routes around it".

Why not instead use a "congestion switch" to slow down traffic to a point where government created misinformation can be spread in real time to achieve whatever goals the government wants?

Re:Are kill switches the most effective method? (1)

Enigma23 (460910) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088888)

A kill switch lets people know that it has been flipped. Things stop functioning entirely, and the net "routes around it".

Why not instead use a "congestion switch" to slow down traffic to a point where government created misinformation can be spread in real time to achieve whatever goals the government wants?

Can I get a "congestion switch" to stop the guys on my exchange who are torrenting so many large files that they kill my net connection, please?

I'm surprised that people aren't pooling wifi (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088584)

You think that by now some wifi router setups would be able to great local micro-inter nets with some data caching so local communities could hope over the local wifi grid.

Handy for publishing local papers on what colour pants your neighbour has and how often they do or don't wash them.

Could possibly do similar with parked or moving vehicles (though Doppler may be an issue, should be overcome-able).

big gaps could be crossed with two men and some flash lights stood on top of hills, or the phone network etc...

But as we all know, people want a country run for them and stuff on the super market shelves, not freedom.

Re:I'm surprised that people aren't pooling wifi (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#35088662)

Really stupid communications regulations to sustain a monopoly killed most attempts at wireless mesh networks in Australia. Anybody who connected their node to the internet while being part of a wireless network ran the risk of very large usage bills, losing their internet access and paranoia about getting accused of being a pedophile if somebody misbehaved on the wireless network.
As for an Australian internet kill switch - three backhoes would get just about everything at once because not much bandwidth is available by satellite.
Conroy is of course a horrible bastard hated by all which is why he is in the punishment post of communications in the first place. The alternative on the other side of politics is unfortunately much worse.

Critical Intranet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35088912)

The thing i don't get is a lot of this stuff is actually 'easier' to secure if you remove them from the Internet all together ( they are talking about power water etc right ), Therefore no kill switch required.i mean your already employing someone to look after it, how about instead of being lazy and wanting to do their job from home while surfing for porn, they actually turn up to work. There is no need for a lot of these critical systems to be on-line at all. except maybe a Administration comps, for which doesn't need to be connected to to the rest of the critical systems. This (how i see it as) 'Cost Cutting' is causing problems for the whole country now.

Ankit (0)

salwars (1917960) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089000)

True,, youre totaly right.. Salwar [sareez.com]

Who'd notice? (0)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089014)

As crappy as their internet is, exactly who would notice if Australia suddenly fell off the net? While we're at it, Canada can shut off their internet after the first week of every month when everyone but grandparents hit their monthly quota.

Yes he deserves to die and i hope he burns in hell (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35089102)

Stephen Conroy is best know for his support of NO R18+ video games and his almost stopping of alien vs predator in Australia.
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