Top 10 Science and Technology Writers

By Shaun Nichols and Iain Thomson
Australian PC Authority
May 3, 2010

Excerpt

6. Bruce Schneier

Shaun Nichols: While he's not so known in the larger industry, Bruce Schneier is one of the most respected and revered people in the computer security business. At conferences such as RSA he always seems to be booked for the main stage and we always try to book a few minutes for an interview.

This is because Schneier is not only a respected authority on the antivirus, network security and encryption fields, but he also has a knack for breaking things down in common language. In an industry that has nearly crafted its own language from a jumble of acronyms and buzz words, Schneier's ability to clearly explain things is invaluable.

That's not to say the man can't hold his own amongst the techies. Schneier has contributed to numerous encryption algorithms and research efforts, as well as authoring several books which are required reading for anyone looking to enter the business.

Iain Thomson: From a pure technology standpoint Schneier has been an important figure in the cryptography world for many years and has written books on the topic that are the standard texts today.

But for a less technical audience Schneier's later work on security and risk is far more accessible, and probably of direct use by a larger number of people. Schneier looks at how we define risk and learn to live with it. He's also an avid identifier of security theatre -- meaningless security measures that reassure but are pointless or even likely to make us less secure. one example is airport screening. The majority of this is useless and in fact opens travellers to more risk, since a queue before security is a very tempting target to a terrorist.

He has been similarly dismissive of the threat of terrorists targeting the internet. "The purpose of terrorism is to terrorise, and if my email goes down I'm annoyed, not terrified," he said at one CeBIT press conference as I recall. It's no-nonsense attitudes like this that a security industry still all too prone to spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt that make him worth listening to and reading.

earlier story: RSA 2010: Q&A with Bruce Schneier
later story: What Faisal Shahzad could learn from "The Wire"
back to News and Interviews

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Co3 Systems, Inc..