Essays Tagged "Whatever"
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The world has systems. Systems have rules. Or are they more like guidelines? In today’s Big Idea for A Hacker’s Mind, security expert Bruce Schneier takes a look at systems, how they are vulnerable, and what that fact means for all of us.
Hacking isn’t limited to computer systems, or even technology. Any system can be hacked.
What sorts of system? Any system of rules, really.
Think about the tax code. It’s not computer code, but it’s a series of rules—supposedly deterministic algorithms—that take data about your income and determine the amount of money you owe. This code has vulnerabilities, more commonly known as loopholes. It has exploits; those are tax avoidance strategies. And there is an entire industry of black-hat hackers who exploit vulnerabilities in the tax code: we call them accountants and tax attorneys…
What’s your electronic data worth to you? What is it worth to others? And what’s the dividing line between your privacy and your convenience? These are questions Bruce Schneier thinks a lot about, and as he shows in Data and Goliath, they are questions which have an impact on where society and technology are going next.
Data and Goliath is a book about surveillance, both government and corporate. It’s an exploration in three parts: what’s happening, why it matters, and what to do about it. This is a big and important issue, and one that I’ve been working on for decades now. We’ve been on a headlong path of more and more surveillance, fueled by fear—of terrorism mostly—on the government side, and convenience on the corporate side. My goal was to step back and say “wait a minute; does any of this make sense?” I’m proud of the book, and hope it will contribute to the debate…
My big idea is a big question. Every cooperative system contains parasites. How do we ensure that society’s parasites don’t destroy society’s systems?
It’s all about trust, really. Not the intimate trust we have in our close friends and relatives, but the more impersonal trust we have in the various people and systems we interact with in society. I trust airline pilots, hotel clerks, ATMs, restaurant kitchens, and the company that built the computer I’m writing this short essay on. I trust that they have acted and will act in the ways I expect them to. This type of trust is more a matter of consistency or predictability than of intimacy…
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.