S2BDS, or “Seen to Be Doing Something”, is now my favorite acronym. Thanks to an Anonymous Coward on The Register who introduced me to it in a comment to this article.

Unfortunately everything said in most of the comments to that article are true. The basic principle of S2BDS is succinctly defined in this paragraph from my anonymous friends’ comment:

… it is always far easier to splash yet more unproductive public cash on a “Seen To Be Doing Something” pretend solution, than to take the harder road of dealing with people. Could be India, could be the UK, the US – situation’s much the same, lots of S2BDS programmes.

The private sector isn’t immune to this kind of thinking either. As another commentor put it:

Actually, S2BDS (like the term) is nowadays the approach to corporate security as well. NOTHING in the way of strategic thinking, no, just plodding along on the model “sort-of-threat-anaylsis”, get an insufficient budget, buy some kit and set up some processes. That way everyone has the happy feeling of S2BDS without actually paying real attention to the problem. In other words, security people have simply become glorified administrators, with only an amoeba-like challenge-response ability at tactical level.

No wonder business get hacked all over the place.

As for the article’s actual subject, terrorists doing VOIP (Voice over IP) on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks, my immediate reaction was, “Cool! How do I do that!” But as some later comments point out, GPRS is probably a suboptimal platform for doing communications like that and is probably being employed on the assumption it’s “the last place they’ll look” and because the adversary (in this case the government) is so ill-equipped to deal with it. So much for the “irrelevance” of basic radio technology skills.

Interesting statistic. In the period from 1999 to 2012 the number of licensed radio amateurs in the United States actually increased from 677,392 to 704,236 (see this graph for details). I’d say that’s a potential pool of valuable technical resources that someone needs to consider tapping.

Not that I know anything about that sort of thing.