Schneier on Security in 2020

Security in 2020 is a fascinating, provocative post from security expert Bruce Schneier’s latest newsletter.  He briefly looks at the current focus of IT security, (each concept he discusses is captured in in what he acknowledges are invented “ugly” words): deperimeterization — “dissolution of the strict boundaries between the internal and external network” — , consumerization — “consumers get the cool new gadgets first, and demand to do their work on them” — , and decentralization — cloud computing.  Then he projects developing trends:  deconcentration — “general-purpose computer is dying and being replaced by special-purpose devices” — , decustomerization — “we get more of our IT functionality without any business relationship” — , and depersonization — “computing that removes the user, either partially or entirely.”  Get past the IT-professional jargon.  Each term nails a distinct trend.

Discussing the delivery of IT services without fee-based relationships he says

We’re not Google’s customers; we’re Google’s product that they sell to their customers. It’s a three-way relationship: us, the IT service provider, and the advertiser or data buyer. And as these noncustomer IT relationships proliferate, we’ll see more IT companies treating us as products. If I buy a Dell computer, then I’m obviously a Dell customer; but if I get a Dell computer for free in exchange for access to my life, it’s much less obvious whom I’m entering a business relationship with. Facebook’s continual ratcheting down of user privacy in order to satisfy its actual customers — the advertisers — and enhance its revenue is just a hint of what’s to come.

With respect to “computing that removes the user”–things talking to things–he says

The “Internet of things” won’t need you to communicate. The smart appliances in your smart home will talk directly to the power company. Your smart car will talk to road sensors and, eventually, other cars . . . The ramifications of this are hard to imagine . . . But certainly smart objects will be talking about you, and you probably won’t have much control over what they’re saying.

Schneier’s summation:

One old trend: deperimeterization. Two current trends: consumerization and decentralization. Three future trends: deconcentration, decustomerization, and depersonization. That’s IT in 2020 — it’s not under your control, it’s doing things without your knowledge and consent, and it’s not necessarily acting in your best interests.

Worth reading for anyone interested in how technology shapes our lives.  Especially Internet law students.

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