Cipher Issue 130, January 25, 2016, Editor's Letter

Dear Readers,

The program committee for the annual Security and Privacy Symposium are in the final stages of determining the papers to be presented in May. Our website, has a link to the conference page where the final program will be announced in February. Registration will open about the same time. Watch for it.

Our book reviewer Richard Austin turned his attention to a new book by long-time security expert Steve Bellovin. Anyone who wants to know why computer security is both necessary and difficult should take a look.

Recently the Wall Street Journal ran a long article about the security of home routers --- those little plastic boxes that make it so easy to have wifi throughout the house. How much more mainstream can security be? And yet, the main news is that the firmware has vulnerabilities, and updates can be hard to come by. How much more depressing can it get? Perhaps security has become the dismal science, pushing economics aside in the mad rush towards the singularity.

I close with a quote from Shakespeare. Although his use of the word "security" meant something more like "complacency" or "overconfidence", I still think it is fitting. I am sure that many hackers, like the witches of the play, know this as truth:

And you all know, security
Is mortals' chiefest enemy. (Macbeth, III 5)

      Hilarie Orman