Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

Black Hat Keynoter: Computer Security Is Impossible

Contrarian professor says companies put too much stock in computer systems - and security

LAS VEGAS – Black Hat USA 2008 – The inaugural keynote address at this year's Black Hat conference basically stated that any notion of computer security -- even computer reliability -- is completely false.

In his presentation to about 4,500 attendees here, Ian Angell, a professor of IT at the London School of Economics, threw the audience for a loop by rejecting any illusion that computers could be made secure and predictable.

"Computer behavior itself might be predictable, but the moment that humans and computers begin to interact, you introduce a level of complexity and ambiguity that no computer can manage," Angell said. "The computer is designed to behave in an average environment, but there are always singular situations that complicate those environments."

Computer users often become too dependent on their machines to make decisions for them, Angell said. "computer screens distract the user from his work, causing confusion and errors in judgment."

Similarly, the notion that computers can be made secure is a fallacy, since there are many assumptions made in the manufacturing and programming of a computer that can be proven faulty and exploited.

"The idea of complete security is a joke, and the cynics in computer security will be laughing all the way to the bank," Angell said.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Firms Improve Threat Detection but Face Increasingly Disruptive Attacks
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/20/2020
Ransomware Damage Hit $11.5B in 2019
Dark Reading Staff 2/20/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-19668
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-27
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: CVE-2018-17963. Reason: This candidate is a reservation duplicate of CVE-2018-17963. Notes: All CVE users should reference CVE-2018-17963 instead of this candidate. All references and descriptions in this candidate have been removed to preve...
CVE-2019-12882
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-27
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was withdrawn by its CNA. Further investigation showed that it was not a security issue. Notes: none.
CVE-2017-6363
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-27
** DISPUTED ** In the GD Graphics Library (aka LibGD) through 2.2.5, there is a heap-based buffer over-read in tiffWriter in gd_tiff.c. NOTE: the vendor says "In my opinion this issue should not have a CVE, since the GD and GD2 formats are documented to be 'obsolete, and should only be used for...
CVE-2017-6371
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-27
Synchronet BBS 3.16c for Windows allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (service crash) via a long string in the HTTP Referer header.
CVE-2017-5861
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-27
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: CVE-2017-1000020. Reason: This candidate is a reservation duplicate of CVE-2017-1000020. Notes: All CVE users should reference CVE-2017-1000020 instead of this candidate. All references and descriptions in this candidate have been removed to...