The future of security

The Red Hat Summit is happening this week in San Francisco. It’s a big deal if you’re part of the Red Hat universe, which I am. I’m giving the Red Hat security roadmap talk this year. The topic has me thinking about the future of security quite a lot. It’s easy to think about this in the context of an organization like Red Hat, we have a lot of resources, and there are a lot of really interesting things happening. Everything from container security, to operating system security, to middleware security. My talk will end up youtube at some point, I’ll link to it, but I also keep thinking about the bigger picture. Where will security be in the next 5, 10, 15 years?

Will ransomware still be a thing in ten years? Will bitcoin still be around? What about flash? How will open source adapt to all the changes? Will we even call them containers?

The better question here is “what do we want security to look like?”

If we look at some of the problems that always make the news, stolen personal information, password leaks, ransomware, hacking. These aren’t new problems, most are almost as old as the Internet. The question is really, can we fix any of these problems? The answer might be “no”. Some problems aren’t fixable, crime is an example of this. When you have unfixable problems the goal is to control the problem, not prevent it.

How do we control security?

I think we’re headed down this path today. It’s still slow going and there are a lot of old habits that will die hard. Most decent security organizations aren’t focused on pure prevention anymore, they understand that security is process and people, it’s all about having nice policies and good staff. If you have those things you can start to work on controlling some aspects of what’s happening. If you want users to behave you have to make it easy for them to do the right thing. If you don’t want them opening email attachments, make it easy to not use email attachments.

There are still a lot of people who think it’s enough to tell people not to do something, or yell at them if they behave in a way that is quite honestly expected. People don’t like getting yelled at, they don’t like having to go out of their way to do anything, they will always pick the option that is easiest.

Back to the point though. What will the future of security look like? I think the future of security is people. Technology is great, but all our fancy technology is to solve problems that are in the past. If we want to solve the problems of the future, we need good people to first understand those problems, then we can understand how to solve them. This is of course easier said than done, but sometimes just understanding the problem is.

Are you a people? Do you have ideas how to make things better? Tell me: @joshbressers

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