Economics of Information Security

R. Anderson and B. Schneier

IEEE Security and Privacy, 3 (1), 2005, pp. 12-13.

Several years ago, a number of researchers began to realize that many security systems fail not so much for technical reasons as from misplaced incentives. Often the people who could protect a system were not the ones who suffered the costs of failure. Hospital medical-records systems provided comprehensive billing-management features for the administrators who specified them, but were not so good at protecting patients’ privacy. Automatic teller machines suffered from fraud in countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, where poor regulation left banks without sufficient incentive to secure their systems, and allowed them to pass the cost of fraud along to their customers. And one reason the Internet is insecure is that liability for attacks is so diffuse.

In all of these examples, the economic considerations of security are more important than the technical considerations.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.