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.

Venetian council room floods after councilors reject climate proposals

In a metaphor too apt to be made up, the council has been forced to relocate until the flood waters recede.

(Photo: Andrea Zanoni/Facebook)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The City of Venice is currently enduring the worst flooding to strike it in 50 years.
  • The mayor has declared it to be a result of climate change.
  • During a debate over next years budget, and right after rejecting environmental proposals, the main chamber of the regional council flooded.
Keep reading Show less

Space hotel with artificial gravity will be in orbit by 2025

The Von Braun Space Station, based on the concepts of a controversial scientist, is moving ahead with construction plans.

Credit: on Braun Space Station.
Technology & Innovation
  • The Gateway Foundation is building a space hotel, based on the concepts of a Nazi and American rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.
  • The space station is expected to be operational by 2025.
  • The company plans to assemble it in orbit, using robots and drones.
Keep reading Show less

The world now has an Ebola vaccine, in historic EU approval

The vaccine is 97.5% effective in protecting against the Zaire species of Ebola, according to the World Health Organization.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Surprising Science
  • The European Medicines Agency granted special approval for an Ebola vaccine called Ervebo.
  • Ervebo has proven remarkably effective in clinical trials conducted in Africa.
  • An Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since August 2018.
Keep reading Show less