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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/6/2013
09:35 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Schneier: Make Wide-Scale Surveillance Too Expensive

Lessons from NSA revelations hit at heart of the 'fundamental issue of the information age,' says Bruce Schneier

As custodians of the Internet mull over the lessons that revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance offer about the insecurity of the Internet's infrastructure, architects must find ways to make wholesale spying more expensive. So said noted cryptographer and security evangelist Bruce Schneier in a talk today about Internet hardening at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) plenary session.

"There are a lot of technical things we can do. The goal is to make eavesdropping expensive," Schneier said. "That's the way to think about this, is to force the NSA to abandon wholesale collection in favor of targeted collection of information." As things stand now, the NSA's surveillance efforts are aided and abetted by the information economy as it stands today, he explained. With data being collected about consumers at every step of their movement online and very little of it being purged from corporate systems, it is only a matter of time that someone puts that data to use.

"This is not a question of malice in anybody's heart, this is the way computers work. So what you're ending up with is basically a public-private surveillance partnership," he says. "NSA surveillance largely piggybacks on corporate capabilities—through cooperation, through bribery, through threats and through compulsion. Fundamentally, surveillance is the business model of the Internet. The NSA didn't wake up and say let's just spy on everybody. They looked up and said, 'Wow, corporations are spying on everybody. Let's get ourselves a cut.'"

[How do you know if you've been breached? See Top 15 Indicators of Compromise.]

According to Schneier, groups like IETF need to find a way to get everyone to understand that a secure Internet is in everybody's best interest. And beyond the political and legal solutions to the problems, technologists must find ways to make it more onerous for wide-scale surveillance to be carried out.

This starts first with ubiquitous encryption on the Internet backbone, Schneier said, along with useable application layer encryption. Additionally, thought needs to put into target dispersal.

"We were safer when our email was at 10,000 ISPs than it was at 10," he said. "It makes it easier for the NSA and others to collect. So anything to disperse targets makes sense."

Additionally, increasing use of endpoint security products and better integrated anonymity tools can help thwart widespread spying. Finally, security and technology assurance needs to be fixed, so that back doors aren't left behind for any one person or group to take advantage.

"This is a hard one, but it's an important one," he said. "We need some way to guarantee, to determine, and to have some confidence that the software we have does what it's supposed to do and nothing else."

Additionally, people need to understand that while the NSA is in the limelight at the moment, it is a symptom of a much bigger disease. Not only is the NSA not the only government agency across the world to engage in these behaviors, but so too are private organizations to some extent.

"This is a fundamental problem of data-sharing and of surveillance as a business model. This is about the benefits of big data versus the individual risks of big data," he said. "When you look at behavioral data of advertising, of health data of education data, of movement data, the question becomes how do we design systems that benefit society as a whole while protecting people individual. I believe this is the fundamental issue of the information age."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
macker490
50%
50%
macker490,
User Rank: Ninja
11/7/2013 | 11:57:41 AM
re: Schneier: Make Wide-Scale Surveillance Too Expensive
security and surveillance are originated at your desk. all those programs you use. what do they really do ? open source puts the source on the table, face up. you might not inspect it yourself but there are those who do and they love to blog about what they find.

and that is a good thing. It's time to think about Linux.
Overcoming the Challenge of Shorter Certificate Lifespans
Mike Cooper, Founder & CEO of Revocent,  10/15/2020
US Counterintelligence Director & Fmr. Europol Leader Talk Election Security
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/16/2020
7 Tips for Choosing Security Metrics That Matter
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-26895
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-21
Prior to 0.10.0-beta, LND (Lightning Network Daemon) would have accepted a counterparty high-S signature and broadcast tx-relay invalid local commitment/HTLC transactions. This can be exploited by any peer with an open channel regardless of the victim situation (e.g., routing node, payment-receiver,...
CVE-2020-26896
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-21
Prior to 0.11.0-beta, LND (Lightning Network Daemon) had a vulnerability in its invoice database. While claiming on-chain a received HTLC output, it didn't verify that the corresponding outgoing off-chain HTLC was already settled before releasing the preimage. In the case of a hash-and-amount collis...
CVE-2020-5790
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
Cross-site request forgery in Nagios XI 5.7.3 allows a remote attacker to perform sensitive application actions by tricking legitimate users into clicking a crafted link.
CVE-2020-5791
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
Improper neutralization of special elements used in an OS command in Nagios XI 5.7.3 allows a remote, authenticated admin user to execute operating system commands with the privileges of the apache user.
CVE-2020-5792
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-20
Improper neutralization of argument delimiters in a command in Nagios XI 5.7.3 allows a remote, authenticated admin user to write to arbitrary files and ultimately execute code with the privileges of the apache user.