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Freakonomics Q&A With Bruce Schneier 147

Posted by kdawson
from the thinking-like-an-economist dept.
Samrobb writes "In grand Slashdot tradition, the Freakonomics blog solicited reader questions for a Q&A session with Bruce Schneier. The blog host writes that Mr. Schneier's answers '...are extraordinarily interesting, providing mandatory reading for anyone who uses a computer. He also plainly thinks like an economist: search below for "crime pays" to see his sober assessment of why it's better to earn a living as a security expert than as a computer criminal.'" The interview covers pretty much the whole range of issues Schneier has written about, and he provides links to more detailed writings on many of the questions.
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Freakonomics Q&A With Bruce Schneier

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  • by rindeee (530084) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @06:45PM (#21578791)
    I couldn't agree with you more. The idea that the correct reaction is overreaction is not only foolish, it's counterproductive and in many cases quite dangerous. This approach has so permeated our society that it has become a part of our psyche and now has made inroads into the military. It is my opinion that 'risk management' and 'force protection' (in their current forms) are ruining the effectiveness of our fighting forces (of which I am arm-chair fighting here). Having recently returned from serving forward in the middle east and working in a mixed environment of special warfare combat forces, the idiocy of that was forced upon us in the name of 'force protection' was nothing short of crippling. Why was it needed? Because, "if you don't abide by force protection rules, someone could be injured or killed". Let me get this straight; We carry guns, explosives, etc. We're trained to use them at night, in the day, in close quarters, over long distances, etc. We signed a piece of paper when we enlisted stating that we understand we might get killed in executing our orders. In light of all of that, there is some 'other' threat, apparently outside of the obvious primary threat during war-time (people shooting at you, IEDs, etc.) that is so much greater than the primary threats that it nullifies our need to counter the primary threats efficiently and effectively. Someone has written a book on this subject from a military prospective. Sadly I cannot recall the name of the book, or the author, as I just happened to pick it up one day at an acquaintances house and peruse it a bit. If anyone knows of the book of which I speak (primary topic being that force protection insanity is ruining the military), please speak up. I'd be forever indebted. Anyway, I digress. The bottom line, fear is counterproductive save for times of fight-or-flight.
  • by tm2b (42473) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @08:04PM (#21579561) Journal

    This person needs to learn more about security and a different way to go about handling their passwords.
    This is much like thinking that Donald Knuth needs to learn more about algorithms.

    Consider that a point is being made that you're not getting, because "this person" is not a moron, and generally talks about security as it is actually practiced instead of how it would be practiced if everybody were an expert and made good security a priority. Since people in general will not make security a priority, you have to talk about how people actually behave and how to craft security that will take actual behavior into account.
  • by Kidbro (80868) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @08:12PM (#21579655)
    Given how easy it is to sniff sensitive data from an unencrypted wireless network, I can't imagine Bruce would allow it unless he segments his network or wires up his own PC.

    Any data that goes unencrypted between your computer and your wifi base station will also go unencrypted between the wifi base station and the target destination. On top of this, any data that's only encrypted by your wifi network will also go unencrypted between the wifi base station and its target destination.
    Maybe Bruce is just wise enough to encrypt any sensitive data he transfers properly, and not rely on the encryption in his $30 hardware that will only protect against attackers within 50 meters?

  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @08:24PM (#21579775) Homepage Journal
    What they want to prevent is the long string of flag-draped coffins streaming home that is sure to undermine public support for the broader mission.

    Well, naval burials at sea make sea battles a bit more palatable.

    However, even though Canadian popular support for the War in Afghanistan has gone down as a result of the flag-draped coffins which are more prominently shown on Canadian TV, it's still a lot higher than support here in the US where we basically ban national coverage of dead bodies or flag-draped coffins beyond the local news.

    Basically, even though we choose to live in fear, it doesn't increase popular support. And, since you're in a country where people basically feel safe and are not used to living in fear, one could easily argue that that basic attitude probably has a lot to do with why there is more popular support, given the Canadian military being the bulk of the forces in Afghanistan, while most US forces are in Iraq.

    Regardless, more interesting are the original article's commentary of Bruce Schneier's answers on privacy and the Net, especially public cameras and password security, IMHO.
  • by maraist (68387) * <`moc.maps0n.liam ... tsiaram.leahcim'> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @09:19PM (#21580179) Homepage
    That someone reads sensitive data from his unprotected wireless network, or that he is killed in a complete random traffic accident?

    Or C) that an industrious/bored male techno-teenager lives within his wifi range
  • by bhima (46039) <> on Wednesday December 05, 2007 @02:53AM (#21582321) Journal
    In his defense, had he completely restated the whole of his previously published work he references his responses would be tediously long.

    I saw it as more of a "here is a more in depth answer to this question, if you are interested"

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James