Cybersecurity’s best bet: An Internet that learns to defend itself

From: GCN

By William Jackson

During the first 40 years of the Internet, security has been about patching mistakes that have been made in its architecture and software and defending these vulnerabilities against attacks from the outside. The future will be about creating an environment that is secure by design and has the ability to anticipate rather than merely respond to threats, government and industry experts say.

This will not be a single secure infrastructure, but an ecosystem of technologies designed to better handle the basic chores of systems development; identity management and access control; and monitoring, analysis and response.

The Internet was not designed to be secure. When originally launched by the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, it was not intended for public use. As it grew, development has always been more about what could be done with it rather than what should or should not be done. Today the Internet has become integral to the economy and security, while cybersecurity has become a front-page issue and observers see the need for fundamental shifts in the way we secure it.

“This does not mean perfect security, but instead a model that evolves and learns from change, whether process, technology or threat related,” said Art Coviello, executive chairman of RSA.

“We have a tendency to talk about the threat, and there’s not a lot we can do about that,” said Ron Ross of the National Institute of Standards Technology, who heads the implementation program for the Federal Information Security Management Act.

Good cybersecurity hygiene is important, Ross said. That means covering the basics of knowing your systems, understanding and managing their configurations, and ensuring that the proper defenses are in place. “But we need to go beyond that and make a difference in architecture and engineering,” he said.

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