David Rice is an internationally recognised information security professional and author of the critically acclaimed book, “Geekonomics: The Real Cost of Insecure Software.” For a decade he has advised, counseled, and defended global IT networks for government and private industry. David has been awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense for “significant contributions” advancing security of critical national infrastructure and global networks. He is a frequent speaker at information security conferences and currently Director of The Monterey Group.
I had a chance to talk with David recently and I hope you enjoy the read.
BorB: Thank you for taking the time for a chat David. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to everyone. What’s the feedback been like from the industry and non-industry (consumers) in general?
DR: Thank you for the opportunity to join the discussion on your blog. Feedback from the information security industry has been overwhelmingly positive. Defending against an unrelenting stream of software vulnerabilities is simply unsustainable. It also happens to be ridiculously expensive. I think people get that point. Software manufacturers and security vendors have led us into a cul-de-sac that we have been wandering around in for a few years, and the frustration is palpable. I think approaching insecure software from an economic perspective has started opening doors that lead out of the cul-de-sac and there is a feeling of hope in that.
The response from outside the information security industry, particularly consumers, has been a mixture of enlightenment, shock, and dismay. For example, a U.S. government representative stated to me, “I can’t put [the book] down. It’s incredible because I’ve never really thought about things this way before.” On a recent radio interview the host asked (rather desperately I might add), “Why isn’t this stuff [cyber attacks] being reported? What do we do?” By the tone of his voice, I could tell he was truly disturbed as well as surprised. It was as if someone told him cigarettes cause lung cancer, manufacturing creates pollution, or fatty foods cause heart disease. Yes, indeed, software can have significant private and social costs also.
On the whole, I think these reactions are healthy and normal. Some people are getting concerned, and some angry. These reactions, and those like them, are understandable and I take such reactions as a good sign. It means that listeners are re-adjusting their viewpoints based on the information presented to them. In the end, I don’t think if we inside the security profession really comprehend just how far behind the rest of the populace is in understanding the issues of cyber security.