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Audio: What If Generative AI Destroys Biometric Security?

Our podcast on science and technology. This week, we explore the rise of biometric authentication systems—and examine what would happen if hackers who use generative AI were to compromise digital security

  • The Economist
  • May 31, 2023

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RECENT YEARS have seen a boom in biometric security systems—identification measures based on a person’s individual biology—from unlocking smartphones, to automating border controls. As this technology becomes more prevalent, some cybersecurity researchers are worried about how secure biometric data is—and the risk of spoofs. If generative AI becomes so powerful and easy-to-use that deepfake audio and video could hack into our security systems, what can be done?

Bruce Schneier, a security technologist at Harvard University and the author of “A Hacker’s Mind”, explores the cybersecurity risks associated with biometrics, and Matthias Marx, a security researcher, discusses the consequences of bad actors obtaining personal data. If artificial intelligence could overcome security systems, human implants may be used as authentication, according to Katina Michael, a professor at Arizona State University. Plus, Joseph Lindley, a design academic at Lancaster University, proposes how security systems can be better designed to avoid vulnerabilities. To think about practical solutions, Scott Shapiro, professor at Yale Law School and author of “Fancy Bear Goes Phishing”, puts generative AI into the wider context of cybersecurity. Finally, Tim Cross, The Economist’s deputy science editor, weighs up the real-world implications of our thought experiment. Kenneth Cukier hosts. Runtime: 39 mins…

Book Review: A Hacker’s Mind by Bruce Schneier

  • David Strom
  • Web Informant
  • May 27, 2023

I have known Bruce Schneier for many years, and met him most recently just after he gave one of the keynotes at this year’s RSA show. The keynote extends his thoughts in his most recent book, A Hacker’s Mind, which he wrote last year and was published this past winter. (I reviewed some of his earlier works in a blog for Avast here.)

Even if you are new to Schneier, not interested in coding, and aren’t all that technical, you should read his book because he sets out how hacking works in our everyday lives.

He chronicles how hacks pervade our society. You will hear about the term Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich (how Google and Apple and others have hacked and thus avoided paying US taxes), the exploits of the Pudding Guy (the person who hacked American Airlines’ frequent flyer system by purchasing thousands of pudding cups to obtain elite status), or when the St. Louis Browns baseball team hacked things by hiring a 3’7″ batter back in 1951. There are less celebrated hacks, such as when investment firm Goldman Sachs owned a quarter of the total US aluminum supply back in the 2010’s to control its spot price. What was their hack? They moved it around several Chicago-area warehouses each day: the spot price depends on the time material is delivered. Clever, right?…

Audio: Is This A Hack? Increased AirBnB Bookings. Bruce Schneier, Author of “A Hacker’s Mind”

  • Cybercrime Magazine
  • May 20, 2023

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What is hacking? We asked Bruce Schneier, New York Times best-selling author of “A Hacker’s Mind,” which answers the question. In this episode, we talk about AirBnB listings and how some property owners are increasing their property’s occupancy.

Video: AppSec Decoded: Bruce Schneier on the Future of AI

  • Synopsys Software Integrity
  • May 1, 2023

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Bruce Schneier, security technologist, discusses the implications of AI and how AI will impact the workforce.

Audio: Is This A Hack? Cheaper Travel Expenses. Bruce Schneier, Author of “A Hacker’s Mind”

  • Cybercrime Magazine
  • May 1, 2023

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What is hacking? We asked Bruce Schneier, New York Times best-selling author of “A Hacker’s Mind,” which answers the question. In this episode, we talk about travel expenses, and the practice of being strategic about credit card points and miles in order to save on plane tickets.

Bruce Schneier’s Plan to Reinvent Democracy

  • David Strom
  • SiliconANGLE
  • May 1, 2023

I have a confession to make: I am a complete Bruce Schneier fanboy. I have been following the cryptographer, Harvard lecturer and privacy specialist for many years, and was delighted to meet him face-to-face at last week’s RSA Conference in San Francisco, where he gave a keynote (registration required) on how to reinvent democracy using cybersecurity concepts. His oeuvre spans decades with numerous books along with his own blog that publishes interesting links to security-related events, strategies and failures that you should follow.

Schneier began his talk by saying that “the political systems that were invented in the 18…

Audio: Sounds About Right: Audiobooks to Help Us Understand the World

  • Sounds About Right
  • April 24, 2023

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I spoke to Bruce Schneier about his latest book A Hacker’s Mind: How the Powerful Bend Society’s Rules, and How to Bend them Back.

Some of the topics we discussed includes:

  • How does hacking reinforce expositing power structures?
  • What is the difference between hacking and cheating?
  • How ‘Societal Hacks Are Often Normalized’ and how big financial companies often look for hacks.
  • How do the rich and powerful use luxury real estate as a hack?
  • When does being ‘Too Big To Fail’ also become a hack?
  • How do companies such as Uber and Wework benefit from Venture Capitalism as a hack?…

Audio: Is This A Hack? Password Sharing On Netflix. Bruce Schneier, Author of “A Hacker’s Mind”

  • Cybercrime Magazine
  • April 21, 2023

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What is hacking? We asked Bruce Schneier, New York Times best-selling author of “A Hacker’s Mind,” which answers the question. In this episode, we cover a common practice among Netflix users: password sharing, which gained popularity for allowing friends and family members to access a wider variety of content without having to pay for additional accounts.

Bruce Schneier on His New Book, a Hacker’s Mind

  • Devjani Roy
  • GrowthPolicy
  • April 20, 2023

GrowthPolicy: I’d like to talk about your brilliant, and timely, new book, A Hacker’s Mind. In the book’s introduction, you write: “Security technologists look at the world differently than most people. When most people look at a system, they focus on how it works. When security technologists look at the same system, they … focus on how it can be made to fail.” Tell our readers what first made you interested in the psychology of security technologists and hackers? In other words, what is the origin story of this book?

Bruce Schneier: These threads have been percolating in my head for a while now. I started writing about the psychology of security around 2008. That quote is something I have been saying for decades. The notions of socio-technical systems and how they can be attacked are just as old…

Hacking Procedure

  • Curtis E.A. Karnow
  • California Litigation Vol. 36 Iss. 1 (2023)
  • April 19, 2023

A long time ago I joined Bruce Schneier on a panel on cyber security. I spoke on legal issues, developing a theme on self-defense which I later turned into a paper which won a little prize. Schneier was the real expert though, knowledgeable not just on technical details, the state of the art, but also the human factor and organizational causes of insecure computer systems. He’s since come out with a series of books on computer security, privacy, and related issues, and publishes a fairly regular “Crypto-Gram” newsletter.

Hacker’s Mind

Schneier’s latest book is “A Hacker’s Mind: How the Powerful Bend Society’s Rules, and How to Bend them Back.” This plays off the old notion of the hacker—the one I grew up with—as one who delights in understanding and manipulating systems to generate unexpected results- or at least results unintended by the system’s developer. A hacker is not a crook, but an exploder of limits. “Hacks follow the rules of a system but subvert their intent,” Schneier writes in his March 15, 2023 Crypto-Gram. Hacks aren’t necessarily illegal, although some are. Some are normalized and eventually accepted as a feature of the system. Banks that play fast and loose with reserve requirements might lead Congress to make the practice illegal (or the opposite: Congress might bail out the banks and allow bankers to keep their bonuses). Tax loopholes which plainly subvert the public intent of the tax system are often subsumed as an acceptable practice…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.