Diffie Optimistic About Secure Computing Future

R. A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Wed Jan 28 09:54:01 EST 2004


Diffie Optimistic About Secure Computing Future

By Paul Kapustka, NetworkingPipeline, InternetWeek
Jan 27, 2004 (1:00 AM)
URL: http://www.internetweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=17501559

Even as the MyDoom worm continued its spread around the Internet, noted
cryptographer Whitfield Diffie was waxing optimistic about the future of
secure computing, saying that technological advancements and better
networking infrastructures would solve many security problems in the near

Diffie, whose biography describes him as the discoverer of the concept of
public key cryptography, used his keynote speech at the Comnet trade show
here Tuesday to outline several advancements in computing that he said
would make the future more secure in the near future, a list that included
cheaper and better hardware, and software and hardware verification
techniques that would allow for greater trust between connected systems.

"I'm optimistic that we are going to solve a lot of the secure computing
problems in the next few years," said Diffie, who is chief security officer
at Sun Microsystems.

Widely available cryptography products, combined with cheaper, faster
computing hardware will greatly reduce security problems, Diffie said.
"Users will have more powerful tools to work with," he added.

Software and hardware verification methods, Diffie said, will also mature
rapidly, allowing users to perform the networking equivalent of credit
checks on the systems and software they interconnect with.

Viruses like the MyDoom program, he said, take advantage of the "lazy
programming" methods of the past, where programs are written to perform
many functions, instead of discrete tasks.

"One of the problems with [Microsoft] Outlook is that it makes more tasks
possible than it should," Diffie said. Administrators and developers, he
said, could reduce such risks by determining the scope of tasks that are
necessary, and tailoring programs or networks to limit the ability of
hackers to perform destructive tasks.
R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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