Computers of every sort together with the Internet are everywhere we look. The world as we’ve come to know it today is entirely dependent on such technology.
There used to be separate categories of devices we typically used; washing machines, VCRs, cell phones, wrist watches, motorcycles, automobiles, aircraft, farm machinery, etc. Today all these and more are now simply computers wrapped in a massive variety containers.
Cars and trucks have become computer containers we put our bodies in and trust to safely deliver us to our destination. Airplanes are flying computers. Hearing aids, pacemakers and other medical marvels are computers we put in or on our bodies and depend on to keep us more or less functional.
All future technology and the problems that come with it will have a computer inside overseen by a regulatory agency dictating things like: "Make self-driving cars so they can't drag race", or “Make 3D printers which can't make harmful organisms or print restricted devices". When it comes to PCs it'll be,"Make general-purpose personal computers that run all programs under tight supervision, except for any programs our top secret agency doesn’t approve of."
The heart of the problem we’re facing is that no one knows how to make a computer that runs all the programs people can compile 'except' for whichever program pisses off some faceless regulatory agency, disrupts an established business or military model, or is useful in some form to some supposed 'bad guy' somewhere. The closest we come to such a device is a computer that contains spyware built into the operating system right out of the box - a computer that, if you do the 'wrong thing', intercedes with some form of, "I can't let you do that, Dave", as HAL famously says in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’
Such computers, which we have billions of from the most powerful hardware and software makers these days, run proprietary software hidden deep in the preinstalled OS from the owner of the device, programs the computer owner can't override or even pretend to get rid of - in simple terms, hidden DRM (Digital Rights Managment) programs.
Such restrictive programs are a counterproductive idea for two main reasons. First, they simply don't solve the problems they seek to regulate and control - as witnessed by the horrific Boeing airplane crashes caused by faulty systems management software we’ve lately seen the awful impact of.
Breaking DRM isn't hard for those who apply themselves to it. The ‘copyright wars' lesson we should have learned, but continue to pretend we didn't, is that any new DRM program that's introduced is broken almost immediately.
The only way DRM works is if a "I can't let you do that, Dave" program remains a secret. Once attackers uncover that secret, which they always do, they liberate it. And the nature of the communications age we live it means how to circumvent that DRM ‘secret’ will be available to everyone everywhere to take advantage of almost immediately.
Today’s news is full of this very thing as powerful ‘security agencies’ world wide take advantage of miscues and poorly thought out efforts on the part of other high profile 'security agencies' to thwart their efforts, turning what was initially intended as a defense against those not trusted into an open door used to access even deeper secrets.
Second, DRM security is weak by design, making overall security weaker yet, as noted in the news we're exposed to each and every day.
As Dorthy succinctly said the year I was born, "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto"..
The only way around the conundrum we all face with the failing DRM system now in place is for users at every level to insist on absolute certainty when it comes to the software running on their computers. Such certainty is fundamental to real computer security. You can't know if your computer's software is secure unless you know and trust the software itself and the sources it derives from. If these sources are 'open', they're knowable. If they're 'closed', they're not. It's that simple.
Building "I can't let you do that, Dave" DRM programs into computers as they come out of the box creates enormous security vulnerabilities. Anyone who knows how to hijack that program can do things with your computer(s) that you may not find out about until it’s too late.
Once a government thinks it has "solved" a problem with some new ‘big brother’ regulated DRM, what they’ve actually done is create an incentive to make it illegal to tell people things that might undermine that DRM - which we see a lot of in our world today - making 'bad guys' out of those who keep people informed of things we all need to know for freedom itself to survive.
Computer scientists and security researchers world wide agree that all things considered the computers we use are more secure with society better served when owners themselves exert ultimate control over the software that runs on their machines.
Short of adhering to and defending the 'open-source' ideal, which Linux currently champions, the world of personal computing freedom as we’ve known it will slowly fade to nothing more than a distant memory in the decades to come..
Lovin' life in Arizona's cool Mogollon Rim Mountain Country!!