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Dolphins in the Desert

Created: 27 Nov 2006 08:00:00 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:54:58 GMT
Sarah Gordon's picture
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Here at Symantec, one of our beliefs isthat keeping people safe online requires more than just a knowledge oftechnology. It requires a knowledge of how people - both good guys andbad guys - actually use technology. It also requires an understandingof how people view technology and safety. It requires the ability tocommunicate different types of ideas to a wide variety of people; fromteenaged users to the CFO, from the college educator to the data entryoperator. It's a huge job and I was just reflecting today on how veryfortunate I am to be working within a group that not only sees thevalue of the multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches, butone that actively supports and encourages it.

I recently spent a week at the Santa Fe Institute,learning about scientific advances in everything from the communicationpatterns of male bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia, (in anunplanned, chance encounter with one of the world's top experts in thisand other types of systems) to the possibilities of technologiescreating other technologies. My own presentations, regarding someinitial research of hackers as presented by the film media, generatedmuch more discussion than I expected and I am still answering emailquestions about it.

One of the other presentations, "Why We will Never Win the ComputerSecurity War", was especially interesting. The general premise was thatwe (the good guys) will not win because we don't really want to winbadly enough to absorb the necessary sacrifices by changing ourbehaviors and requirements. Some of my own research on privacy wouldtend to indicate that maybe the author has a point, but I'm notcompletely sure. I think we need more datapoints before we can begindrawing conclusions about "trends".

Over the next couple of weeks, I think I'll write in a bit moredetail about what the non-computer science people at SFI had to say.After all, if real safety comes by understanding the intersection oftechnology with everyday, real-world life, understanding the "reallife" application of technology has to be a good thing.