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RSA 2011: Easy to overlook cybersecurity improvements, says Schneier

It is easy to forget that cyber security is much better now than at the dawn of the internet age, according to Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer at BT.

"An enormous number of things are done securely on the internet, and it is getting better every year," he told attendees of RSA Conference 2011 in San Francisco.

According to Schneier, cyber defence capabilities are continually improving, albeit slowly.

"We are not as good as we can be, but we are doing surprisingly well," he said.

In a debate on cybersecurity, cyberwar and the challenges ahead, Schneier said the positive advances that have been made were often forgotten.

"Millions of people are doing things like buying and selling goods on the internet, and it works well almost all of the time," he said.

Cyberwar is increasingly appearing in the headlines, said Schneier, because "war" is sexier than "attack" and it is continually being talked up because that is what sells.

The term is widely applied to things that do not constitute cyberwar, he said, such as the publication of thousands of US diplomatic cables by whistleblowing site, Wikileaks.

"This is not war, but the US State Department finally learned what the film and music industry learned years ago, which is that files are easily copied and shared over the internet," said Schneier.

People in government, jockeying for funding to set up cyber commands, are also using the more alarming term to help push for more budget and power, he said.

In summary, debate moderator James Lewis of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said while there has been clear progress in cyber security, it was still open to question whether that progress is fast enough.


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