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Bruce Schneier at the International Symposium on Technology and Society, November 12, 2020.
Hacking is inherently a creative process. It’s finding a vulnerability in a system: something the system allows, but is unintended and unanticipated by the system’s creators—something that follows the rules of the system but subverts its intent. Normally, we think of hacking as something done to computer systems, but we can extend this conceptualization to any system of rules. The tax code can be hacked; vulnerabilities are called loopholes and exploits are called tax avoidance strategies. Financial markets can be hacked. So can any system of laws, or democracy itself. This is a human endeavor, but we can imagine a world where AIs can be hackers. AIs are already finding new vulnerabilities in computer code and loopholes in contracts. We need to consider a world where hacks or our social, economic, and political systems are discovered at computer speeds, and then exploited at computer scale. Right now, our systems of “patching” these systems operate at human speeds, which won’t nearly be enough…
Hacking is generally thought of as something done to computer systems; this conceptualization can be extended to any system of rules. The tax code, financial markets, and any system of laws can be hacked. Consider a world where AIs can be hackers-where hacks of our social, economic, and political systems are discovered and exploited at computer scale. Human speed “patching” approaches must change.
The panel session aims to clarify expectations with respect to digital security regarding blockchain. Many people simply don’t understand how blockchain works and question its basic security (e.g. assuming that a ledger that is stored everywhere cannot be secure), while many others view blockchain as a panacea for security (e.g. it will solve all our security challenges). Where is the reality? To which extent can we trust this technology from a digital security perspective? How can it help resolve existing digital security challenges?
Computer security is no longer about data; it’s about life and property. This change makes an enormous difference, and will shake up our industry in many ways. First, data authentication and integrity will become more important than confidentiality. And second, our largely regulation-free Internet will become a thing of the past. Soon we will no longer have a choice between government regulation and no government regulation. Our choice is between smart government regulation and stupid government regulation. Given this future, it’s vital that we look back at what we’ve learned from past attempts to secure these systems, and forward at what technologies, laws, regulations, economic incentives, and social norms we need to secure them in the future…
Part of The Hague Program for Cyber Norms’ third annual conference “Moving Forward: Fragmentation, Polarization and Hybridity in Cyberspace”, held online from 10-12 November 2020.
The 2020 election is happening amidst unprecedented disagreement about election security, as the coronavirus pandemic challenges traditional in-person voting. On the one hand, the incumbent president claims that postal voting will lead to widespread electoral fraud. On the other, Democrats argue that the U.S. postal system is being deliberately degraded to make it less likely that mailed ballots will be counted in time. Both political scientists who work on voting, and information security specialists, who think systematically about the failure modes, attack surfaces, and threat models of large information systems, can help us understand—and mitigate—the likely failures of large-scale voting systems operating under unexpected circumstances in a context of increased fear over manipulation…
As the world prepares to reopen there is a move to develop smartphone apps for digital contact tracing. Some countries such as Israel and China are already using technology to track individual movements. As governments and technology companies are authorized to gather yet more data on individuals there are increased fears of a surveillance society and an inability to roll back invasions of privacy. Join us as technology security expert Bruce Schneier explores the trade-offs between public safety and civil liberties as we bring new technologies to bear in response to the pandemic…
A computer security mindset is essential to understanding the security of complex technological systems. As we move into a world where all social, economic and political systems are to some extent technological, we need to extend this way of thinking. Come learn how to hack—and then defend—society’s core systems: elections, the market economy, lawmaking, tax policy, journalism and more.
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.