A great essay on security in the cyberworld

I just read this paper on cybersecurity by Daniel E. Geer, and I was very impressed. Unfortunately I haven’t heard from the author yet, but I regularly used to read the blog of Bruce Schneier, and this essay basically puts the same ideas into perspective.

I have found the essay to be very interesting, and very thought-provoking. It shows very well that security in the cyber (or cyber-connected) world is very difficult to attain. There are no simple solutions. I personally think that security in the real world (not only the cyber world) is also very difficult to obtain, and unfortunately politicians tend to go the easy way, and simply bend in front of the will of the people by implementing “security measures” that in the end don’t help much (if at all) in terms of security, but reassure the people. An example of this is the ban of liquids on airplanes, while cockpits in Europe are still not reinforced — the former doesn’t achieve much but is very visible (and so is more of a security theater), while the latter would be much less visible, but also much more effective. Also to note, that the former takes a lot of man-power to implement, and inconveniences the users (thus taking their time, too), while the latter would be relatively cheap.

The mentality that leads us to believe that bombing is more of a threat is that most people expect planes to be blown up, while hijacking is most only an afterthought. This serious mistake is probably a psychological effect, as most people tend to remember visually colourful incidents more, and Hollywood has made use of the “blow-up” effect too much, etching it into the brains of most people, even decision-makers. However, it is important to remember, that most serious problems in airports and airplanes were carried out through the use of arms other than bombs: to take a trivial example, no planes used in 9/11 were bombed. As a side-note, reinforced cockpits would have prevented all of 9/11, and European cockpits are still not reinforced, but my toothpaste is always taken away — a serious defect, I say.