Australia to ask Google Maps to pull images over security concerns

According to this article, Australia will ask Google to pull satellite photos of its only Nuclear plant. It’s worth noting that several locations in the US Capital are either reduced resolution or blocked out with solid colors. Now that we live in an era of private satellite imagery are services like MSN’s Virtual Earth and Google’s Maps giving away TOO much information?

In some ways I think the answer is yes, just browsing through Virtual Earth’s satellite imagery of Washington I see several buildings conveniently labeled, Google Maps hybrid satellite/road map view gives as convenient labeling of various D.C. structures. After all they’re both trying to organize information. The locations aren’t secret though. It is public knowledge and anyone with a map could figure out where they are. It just seems to make things too easy. (We can even find GPS coordinates without too much of a tap dance.)

But, the information is there and it really can’t be stopped. I mean, sure certain specific sites can be obscured, but what if someone pays a private satellite company $$$ to take photos? Will they say no? I guess the other question is how we (as a society) secure ourselves in such a reality. Personally, I would hope people routinely review what satellite imagery reveals about OUR own “sensitive” areas and have clever people try to come up with ways of defending that may not appear on satellite imagery, or things that may be misleading on satellite imagery. (Honeypot for terrorists trying to exploit free satellite imagery?) I would at least hope that we have people that sit down and say, “based on what you see in this image how do you think you would take advantage of that information?”

This is essentially what security audits of software are. Based on what you know about the software, how would you try to exploit it. Then they try to fix the problem.

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