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Complexity = Risk, deal with IT

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Current IT systems are inherently insecure and growing complexity will simply increase these risks, a leading academic has warned.

Users should rebel and demand vendors compensate them for security foul-ups, said pugnacisous Professor Klaus Brunnstein of the University of Hamburg

Brunnstein told delegates to an IT security conference in London on Wednesday that attempting to protect against IT risks - such as hacking attacks - by increasing the complexity of systems is futile. "That would be like trying to expel the devil with Beelzebub," he said.

The present wave of IT security incidents is caused by inherently insecure assumptions, including overly complex systems. The interoperation of these systems with other insecure technologies magnifies the problem, the applied informatics academic argued.

He said more secure technologies will only be developed after a fundamental rethink involving building security into applications rather than adding it as an afterthought. Beyond saying that applications shouldn't delete valuable data when they failed, Brunnstein failed to elaborate on this key point preferring instead to criticise suppliers for resisting change.

Brunnstein called on user groups to rebel and lobby for customer protection laws and compensation for security failures. "Manufacturers must be made to pay for damages. Certainly Microsoft has made enough money to do so," Brunnstein said.

The professor made his comments during a keynote presentation at the Gartner IT Security Summit conference in London on Wednesday. ®

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