Feeds

Bad security products thrive on confusion

High-drama obscures real risks, warns Schneier

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.