Friday, January 10, 2014

Alex Stamos at EE380

Alex Stamos gave an excellent talk yesterday in Stanford's EE380 course. The video is linked from the EE380 schedule page. His title was Building a Trustworthy Business in the Post-Snowden Era, and the talk was based on analyzing the source material that has been released, rather than the media interpretation of those materials. The video is well worth your time to watch because, as Alex says, even if you are sure you will never do anything to attract the attention of the NSA:
  • You have to assume that, in a few years, many of the capabilities the NSA has today will be available in the market for exploits and be usable by the average bad guy.
  • Among the few products whose markets the US still dominates are Internet services and networking hardware. Success in these markets depends heavily on trust, and the revelations have destroyed this trust.
  • In particular, you have to assume that much of the software on which the integrity of your archive depends have backdoors inserted at the request of the three-letter agencies.
More generally, Robert Puttnam in Making Democracy Work and Bowling Alone has shown the vast difference in economic success between high-trust and low-trust societies. The way the revelations have been able to repeatedly disprove successive Government denials is, together with the too-big-to-jail banksters, a serious threat to the US and other developed nations remaining high-trust societies. So even if you think you don't care about this stuff, you do.

Matt Blaze's piece in The Guardian is well worth a read too.

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