News Tagged "Economist"

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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…

Audio: Can the American Election Be Hacked?

  • The Economist
  • October 26, 2016

In the second episode of Economist Radio specials running up to the presidential election, security expert Bruce Schneier examines vulnerabilities in electoral voting systems.

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Collecting Private Information

A computer-security expert weighs up the costs and benefits of collecting masses of personal data

  • The Economist
  • April 4, 2015

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. By Bruce Schneier.W.W. Norton; 383 pages; $27.95 and £17.99.

SOCIETY has more digital information than ever and can do new things with it. Google can identify flu outbreaks using search queries; America’s National Security Agency (NSA) aspires to do the same to find terrorists. But at the same time people are under constant surveillance by companies and governments, since the rules protecting privacy are hopelessly out of date.

In “Data and Goliath” Bruce Schneier, a computer-security expert, does a fine job of laying out the problems caused by this compulsive collection of personal data, and suggests some steps that would help protect society from the most egregious excesses. The challenges are severe because modern technologies collect large amounts of information on the most innocuous of activities, which formerly left no data trace…

New Threat Model Army

  • M.E.
  • The Economist
  • November 11, 2013


“The NSA has turned the internet into a giant surveillance platform.” Security guru Bruce Schneier (pictured) did not pull his punches when he addressed the 1,200 engineers gathered for the meeting of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in Vancouver last week. But when it came to the question of what should be done about it, he and the other participants in a panel discussion had less to offer.

Mr Schneier, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Centre on Internet and Society, is one of the few people who had seen most if not all the NSA documents downloaded by Edward Snowden. Only a few have been made public so far, with the most recent revelation being the stealth tapping of Google’s internal networks…

A Tax on the Honest

  • The Economist
  • October 16, 2003

HOW useful are ID checks in large office buildings? Is it safe to use a credit card online? Can face-scanning systems make airports safer? Not very, yes, and no, says Bruce Schneier in “Beyond Fear”, the latest of several books on security to have appeared since September 11th 2001.

Mr. Schneier, however, comes at these questions from an unusual and informative perspective. He is one of the world’s leading experts on computer security, and arguably the most articulate. For years, he has explained the ins and outs of his field by drawing analogies with real-world security. In his new book, he turns this approach on its head, using his analytical skills, honed in the field of computer security, to evaluate the other security measures that are now so common…

Put Not Your Trust in Maths

  • The Economist
  • September 7, 2000

Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World.
By Bruce Schneier.
John Wiley & Sons; 432 pages; $29.99 and £19.50

WHEN an acknowledged expert suddenly announces that his previous views are completely wrong, it is time to take notice. That is exactly what Bruce Schneier, an authority on computer security, has just done in “Secrets and Lies”. Like many in his field, he used to be beguiled by the mathematics of cryptography, and believed that, with enough fancy encryption and authentication, it was possible to build a totally secure system—a mathematical utopia he described in a previous book, “Applied Cryptography”, which became a standard work. But Mr Schneier now believes that he was wrong, and “Secrets and Lies” is his bid to correct this mistake…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.