How should corporations think about Web security?

Question: How should corporations think about Web security?

Jonathan Zittrain: The top level security issue is how to function in an open and chaotic environment. The more secrets your business holds, the more you stand to lose, if a laptop goes missing, if your website gets hacked. And there are some secrets that really do need to stay secrets, like your customers' credit card numbers. And it's amazing to me the number of companies that still don't encrypt them when they store them. So when the hacker gets in, they've got the keys to the kingdom. California passed a law a few years ago, SP-1386 that says, if you have had a vulnerability, a breach of some kind, and exposed customer data to unknown third parties, of a sensitive nature, you have to tell the customer. As you might guess, firms don't like this law. There's been a slew of firms telling customers, "Gee, we screwed up," and yet they still don’t encrypt very often. It's very puzzling to me. But to me, aside from the stuff that absolutely has to stay scrambled, it'd be worthwhile to say, "How much of our business plan depends on secrecy and on control, rather than on generativity? On people coming up with neat ideas?" And corporations are starting to get wise to this. Dove is running a competition for people to film their own soap ads, and the winner gets to have the soap ad on TV. So in crude and fitful ways, they're suddenly acting less oracularly. You can even see it in the arts, where writers of television shows no longer speak only through their show, but they have a pod cast and commentary and behind the scenes stuff, because the bandwidth is there to do it. I'm sure there are a number of artists who think, "Too bad. Better that you should speak, J. D. Salinger, only through your books." Whereas others say, "Hey, it's a craft. I'm happy, actually, if people are eager to see what's on the cutting room floor, fine. I'll share it."

 

Recorded on: 3/8/08

The top level security issue is how to function in an open and chaotic environment, Zittrain says.

Is it ethical to pay people to get vaccinated?

It could lead to a massive uptake in those previously hesitant.

Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Coronavirus

A financial shot in the arm could be just what is needed for Americans unsure about vaccination.

Keep reading Show less

Every 27.5 million years, the Earth’s heart beats catastrophically

Geologists discover a rhythm to major geologic events.

Credit: desertsolitaire/Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • It appears that Earth has a geologic "pulse," with clusters of major events occurring every 27.5 million years.
  • Working with the most accurate dating methods available, the authors of the study constructed a new history of the last 260 million years.
  • Exactly why these cycles occur remains unknown, but there are some interesting theories.
Keep reading Show less

Massive 'Darth Vader' isopod found lurking in the Indian Ocean

The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.

SJADE 2018
Surprising Science
  • A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
  • It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
  • The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
Keep reading Show less

Galactic wind from early universe detected

Researchers discovered a galactic wind from a supermassive black hole that sheds light on the evolution of galaxies.

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds the oldest galactic wind yet detected, from 13.1 billion years ago.
  • The research confirms the theory that black holes and galaxies evolve together.
  • The galactic wind was spotted using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast