Essays Tagged "Georgetown Journal of International Affairs"

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Hacking Team, Computer Vulnerabilities, and the NSA

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • September 13, 2015

When the National Security Administration (NSA)—or any government agency—discovers a vulnerability in a popular computer system, should it disclose it or not? The debate exists because vulnerabilities have both offensive and defensive uses. Offensively, vulnerabilities can be exploited to penetrate others’ computers and networks, either for espionage or destructive purposes. Defensively, publicly revealing security flaws can be used to make our own systems less vulnerable to those same attacks. The two options are mutually exclusive: either we can help to secure both our own networks and the systems we might want to attack, or we can keep both networks vulnerable. Many, myself …

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.