Security will fix itself, eventually

If you’re in the security industry these days things often don’t look very good. Everywhere you look it sometimes feels like everything is on fire. The joke is there are two types of companies, those that know they’ve been hacked and those that don’t. The world of devices looks even worse. They’re all running old software, most will never see updates, most of the people building the things don’t know or care about proper security, most people buying them don’t know this is a problem.

I heard a TED talk by Al Gore called The case for optimism on climate change. This made me think of security in some ways. The basics of the talk are that things are getting better, we’re surpassing many goals set for things like renewable energy. A few years ago the idea of renewable energy beating out something like coal seemed far fetched.

That reminded me of the current state of security. It’s hard to see a future that’s very bright sometimes. For ever problem that gets fixed, at least two new ones show up. The thing that gives me optimism though is the same basic idea as climate change. It has to get better because there is no alternative.

If we look back at renewable energy, the biggest force keeping it out of the market even five years ago was cost. It was really expensive to build and deploy things like solar panels. Today it’s the same price or cheaper in some instances.

What happened?

The market happened. As new technology emerges and develops, it gets cheaper. This is one of the amazing things about emerging technology. Entrenched technology generally doesn’t change price drastically just due to its nature. Solar power is getting better, it’s not done yet, it will continue to get better for less cost. The day will come when we think about current power generation the way we think about using horses for transportation.

Now let’s think about security.

If you want secure devices and a secure infrastructure it’s going to cost a fortune. You’re talking about very high skilled staff and extremely expensive hardware and software (assuming you can even get it in some cases). Today security is added cost in many cases, so lots of producers skip it. Bad security has cost too though. Today bad security is generally cheaper than good security. We need to flip this around, good security needs to be cheaper than bad security.

The future.

Here’s my prediction though. In the future, good security will be cheaper to build, deploy, and run that bad security. This sounds completely insane with today’s technology. A statement like is some kook ten years ago telling everyone solar power is our future. Ten years ago solar wasn’t a serious thing, today it is. Our challenge is figuring out what the new security future will look like. We don’t really know yet. We know we can’t train our way out of this, most existing technology is a band-aid at best. If I had to guess I’ll use the worn out “Artificial Intelligence will save us all”, but who knows what the future will bring. Thanks to Al Gore, I’m now more optimistic things will get better. I’m impatient though, I don’t want to wait for the future, I want it now! So all you smart folks do me a favor and start inventing the future.

What do you think? Leave your comments on twitter: @joshbressers

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