Will IT security be easy in 2016 or 2046?

Will IT security be easy in 2016 or 2046?

Summary: My calculations tell me that by 2016, tech security will be as easy as flicking a light switch.

TOPICS: Security

Securing your IT infrastructure, whether you look after five, 5,000 or 50,000 computers, is a complicated process. But my calculations tell me that by 2016, tech security will be as easy as flicking a light switch or turning on a gas cooker.

Speak to any security expert about how to make your IT infrastructure more secure and they will probably start babbling on about risk management and layered defences.

It seems that the more someone knows about security, the less they talk about firewalls, antivirus, encryption etc.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Larry Bridwell, who is the global security strategist at Grisoft -- the company responsible for AVG. During a very amusing luncheon on Thursday, he compared IT security to the electricity and gas industries when they were still in their infancy.

"When we first started using gas to warm and light houses ... it was normal practice to burn down a house. It took about 40 years to learn how to build better conduits for the gas, better lamps and better heaters.

"When we first got electricity, we electrocuted people on a very regular basis. It was just the way it was. We learned how to regulate and we learned how to build devices that worked. We learned about insulation and how to properly wire homes," he said.

He said the same thing happened in aviation: "Planes dropped out of the sky like flies for years ... it took about 50 years and enough regulation -- it is relatively safe now".

According to Bridwell, in about 40 years, IT and IT security will not be complicated -- at least not for the vast majority of users. This is because regulations and advancements in technology will mean that vulnerabilities are reduced and systems become inherently safe.

However, I don't think he was taking into account that IT is evolving at a much faster pace than either the electricity or gas industries. If there are four Internet years in a human year then it will only take about 10 years before IT is as mature as the electricity and gas industries are now.

Back in the days when this new fangled electricity thing was electrocuting people on a regular basis we were still waiting for someone to realise that protecting wires with plastic insulation sleeves might help.

These days, a story about someone discovering it's a bad idea to check for a gas leak with a match might be considered humorous. I hope that the thought of updating antivirus signatures is met with the same reaction come 2016.

Topic: Security

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • Security Methodology

    Maybe I am crazy, but why would anyone check computer security with a match?
  • LOL ... well iiiiiiin

    I think (and pray) generally the article is probably right.

    But at the same time the complexity with computers and the internet is their generic nature. Everybody wants to do different things with these technologies. Secure business, download music, swap files with friends, look at porn, develop software, use web services. Businesses are trying applying their rules, people are fighting for their (and everybody elses) freedom, advertising at any cost.
    Business models work by being proprietry or non-cooperative with other software/hardware/protocols for business advantage.
    Everybody has an agenda and different expectation that often conflicts with good security.

    There was an article and follow up article written by someone trying to identify all the security issues. He plans to write a new article, taking into account all comments, hopefully suggesting solutions.
    Its a complex task.

    Here is the link to the Security Absurdity article.
  • Willy wonkered

    I don't think I've ever seen someone look as screwed as your photo. Heavy night before it was taken, Pac-Man?
  • Sell Grisoft Stock

    I guess its time to sell off your Grisoft stock, if Larry Bridwell is calling their strategy. Oh boy, comparing information security to gas and electric? Talk about a mixed metaphor...

    When's the last time your gas line carefully plotted to overthrow your stove because the stove was seen as a suppressive threat to said gas line's freedom?

    Ok, when's the last time your toaster contained secret codes that could transfer millions of dollars in the flick of a switch---and the electric line was just waiting to collect?

    Larry's comparison reflects such a gross under-appreciation of the global information security threat that I am frankly surprised ZDnet published it, and did so not incredulously.

    There were simply no wars waged by gas and electricity. However, information is a pawn in the global espionage arena. Information is power, and there are plenty of megalomaniacs out there. To reduce the threat to that of common household utilities that have been easily tamed is at best absurd and at worst irrevocably dangerous. I, for one, would not trust my data with THIS man.
  • Don't believe it will...

    Unfortunately I don't share your optimism. I belive that it will be a never ending struggle just like the cold war. The "good guys" will come up with a new protection, which will be followed by the "bad guys" doing a crack or a hack.
    You can't compare gas and electricity with IT-security. The reason is that IT-security concerns things that are like money. People want to access the secured infrastructure. The banks nowadays are much more secure than a few hundred years ago, but there are still bank robberies and thefts.
    Accept the fact that nothing can be 100% secure, but strive for perfection nonetheless. It CAN be much more secure than today, that's for sure.