Feeds

Bad security products thrive on confusion

High-drama obscures real risks, warns Schneier

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The information security market is riddled with mediocre products because buyers are often sold on a story rather than having enough information to make a rational choice, a security expert has said.

Bruce Schneier, founder and chief technical officer of BT Counterpane, said many security products offered the feeling of being secure rather than actual security. Vendors can't be trusted to give a reliable precis of a product's capabilities, he warned.

The field of information technology security is so complex that purchasing decisions are based on feelings and hunches rather than reality, a process that suppliers play into, in what Schneier described as "security theatre". Products sold through this process often either fail to live up to their promises or address a threat that is overstated.

"For every supplier with a good product or service, there is at least one more out to make a quick buck before customers find out," Schneier told delegates to the RSA security conference during a keynote presentation on Tuesday. "There's a problem when feelings and reality are out of whack."

The presence of bad products diminishes trust in the market as a whole over the long-term, while leaving end-users with a false sense of security.

The same problem can apply to product categories as well as individual items of kit. Firewalls, for example, are ubiquitious but often poorly configured. On the other hand, email security products work well but enjoy little market penetration, Schneier said.

Part of the difficulty is that human beings are inherently irrational, finding it difficult to weigh a balance between risks and costs and behaving irrationally on the basis of perceived fears. "The human brain is still in beta testing. There are all sorts of patches and workarounds in there," Schneier joked. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?