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Cybersecurity Is Harder Than Building Bridges

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Building a bridge in Benecia, CA.

Despite its complexity, there are indications cybersecurity can be improved, says former ACM president Peter J. Denning and Naval Postgraduate School professor Dorothy E. Denning.


Cybersecurity is a complex and messy challenge, but there are indications it can be improved, writes former ACM president Peter J. Denning and Naval Postgraduate School professor Dorothy E. Denning. They say defining the scope and severity of the problem is complicated by a lack of reliable data about cybersecurity extent and trends.

Most cyber systems are inaccessible to the public, and require complex authentication mechanisms to ensure only authorized parties can use them. To enforce these constraints, computer systems use various access controls including not only login mechanisms, but also isolation methods enforced by the operating system and hardware. These controls must guarantee users are only permitted to access digital objects for which they are authorized, and they are only allowed to conduct operations and transactions for which they have consent.

Network traffic must be protected by a completely different array of security controls and traffic monitors, and cyber systems need constant intrusion monitoring due to the highly valued nature of the data they hold.

In addition, cyber systems are highly susceptible to the weaknesses of the people who use them, while their code complexity and interconnectivity exacerbate the situation.

Positive developments include software developers taking security much more seriously than before, and the development and distribution of new guidelines for secure cyber system operation from the cybersecurity community.

From American Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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