23

The Future of Products

One question to ask is what future technologies are likely to help security products. Surely cryptography is always getting better. Surely we're always building better and better firewalls. Won't that help? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, specific technologies are getting better. But no, the fundamental problems aren't being solved.

Technologies improve. CPUs are much faster than they were ten years ago, making it possible to add cryptography almost everywhere. Digital cell phones, for example, could encrypt everything with strong algorithms without perceptibly reducing performance.

The technologies of computer and network security are getting better. Today's firewalls are much better than the ones designed ten years ago. Intrusion detection systems are still in their infancy, but they are getting better.

And the same is true for almost every technology discussed in Part 2. Tamper-resistance technologies are improving; biometric technologies are improving. We're even getting smarter digital copy protection mechanisms (the DVD debacle notwithstanding).

What aren't changing are the fundamentals of the technologies and the people using them. Cryptography will always be nothing more than mathematics. Security flaws will always litter software. People will (in general) never be willing to remember passwords longer than a certain length. People will always be vulnerable to social engineering.

It's worse yet. Things are getting more complex, and that complexity ...

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