Bruce Schneier paints a rather downbeat picture of the future in a discussion with Marcus Ranum on Security in Ten Years. Fortunately they are wrong. When looking a decade ahead, you cannot simply extrapolate today’s trends, nor consider them in isolation. By 2017, many changes in perception and practice will have taken place. It won’t be just a case of more of the same.
Go back twenty five years and imagine what a law enforcement expert would have projected for the future of crime in New York. It would have been grim. But many things in life, such as average GDP per person, continue to improve, and their impact over a decade can be transformational. Relative certainties for 2020, identified in recent long-range research projects, are that the World economy will be substantially larger, that energy supplies will still be sufficient, and that people will be healthier, wealthier and live longer.
It’s also likely that we will have addressed the root causes of today’s security problems, and become more accustomed to many of the fundamental changes to business and society introduced by the information age. Technology of course will become increasingly complex and remain spectacularly vulnerable. But it’s also highly resilient, and can quickly bounce back. The trick is to accept and address the weaknesses of modern technology, and to harness the technology itself to help solve these problems. Faster, complex and more pervasive technology presents bigger risks but it also offers more powerful security solutions.