Thursday, May 19, 2011

US NSA (National Security Agency):
'Hardening Tips for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard'

I believe I mentioned this publication last year. I was reminded of it by a tweet from Dr. Charlie Miller today:
NSA's hardening tips for OS X 10.6 < looks like a good way to make things randomly stop working.
Oh dear. But the brochure has helped me today to finish up my current 6 Rules Of Computing list, which I will post as my next article.

Overall, the NSA's 'tips' are fine and useful. But they go a bit mental over trivial points. Some examples:

A) Their section entitled: "Au Revoir, Bonjour!" is TechTardy from my POV. They suggest using a Terminal command to turn Bonjour off. Ignore it. Bonjour is an innovation I personally love. It has nothing (so far) to do with compromising a Mac's security.

B) Their section entitled "Disable Bluetooth and AirPort Devices" is whacked. I'm all for killing off Bluetooth technology, which I despise as decrepit, low bandwidth, buggy and insecure. But to have the NSA say you need a "certified technician" to remove your Bluetooth hardware is absurd. Equally, their suggestions about disabling AirPort are strange and likely to lead to unnecessary confusion.

C) Their redundant "Disable IPv6 and AirPort when Not Needed" section continues the strange and confusing. There is no reason to disable IPv6 at all. In fact, a year from now we are all going to find IPv6 to be essential when surfing the web.


The weak points in the brochure continue to dismay my trust in US government comprehension of contemporary technology. I've railed against NSA technology ignorance before and at this rate I expect I'll be railing on them for years to come.

1 comment:

  1. Followed a link here from Schneier. Interesting article. But the inevitable question pops up:

    Why are we sure that the poor advice is "NSA technology ignorance" and not misdirection?

    Taking any kind of expert advice from a spy agency is a little problematic in any case under any conditions (perhaps including when you're the one the agency works for). So, just wondering.