Cipher Issue 102, June 3, 2011, Editor's Letter

The Security and Privacy Symposium was held last week in Berkeley, California, and it was, in almost every aspect, better than ever. The organizers selected a great technical program, the largest to date, some papers garnered press coverage, and the traditional evening receptions were congenial and well-attended. The event has become a victim of its own success, and its 32 year history at the Claremont Hotel will come to an end. See the report of the Technical Committee in this issue.

The upcoming event of note is the Computer Security Foundations Symposium, this year in Domaine de l'Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay, France, June 27-29. The preliminary program is available at

The number of people involved in computer security research and development appears to be growing, and in the US, funding from government and industry is increasing. More papers are being written, conference attendance is increasing. Does this reflect success or failure? Have previous efforts failed, or have they been too difficult to implement? Are current efforts fixated on a kind of Zeno's paradox in which smaller and smaller problems are solved with more and more effort? These speculations have caused me to reformulate an old joke involving an artificial intelligence oracle, similar to Watson. "When will we achieve computer security?" asks the petitioner of the oracle. The answer seems baffling: "Thirteen miles". A backtrace of the logic reveals that each year's Security & Privacy Symposium bring us "one step closer to true security."

  May your path be shorter,
      Hilarie Orman