Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Future of "Intrusion Prevention"?

Bruce Schneier has been one of the influential thinkers in the information security profession for much of its existence.  A professional cryptographer (he designed the common Blowfish algorithm and the Twofish algorithm that was one of the five finalists in the AES competition), he wrote what is still a key work in the field, "Applied Cryptography", but has been working in the wider security arena for some time - running his own intrusion detection outsourcing company - Counterpane - now part of BT.

In a recent CSO Magazine interview, he answered a number of questions on the changes in security, mostly concentrating on the anti-terror / airport security situations he castigates in his most recent book, "Beyond Fear".

However, much to my delight, he then said this, talking about security ideas from the insect world:

But the neatest story I've found is about how lima bean plants defend themselves. When two-spotted spider mites attack them, the plants emit a chemical distress signal. The distress signal helps in three distinct ways. One, it gets other, nearby lima bean plants to start sending out the same distress signal, even if they're not being attacked yet. Two, it repels other two-spotted spider mites. And three, it attracts carnivorous mites to land on the lima bean plants and prey on the herbivorous two-spotted spider mites. Yes, the plants have evolved to call in air strikes against their attackers.

My emphasis.  Yes, one of the gurus of computer incident response seems to have proposed active response by ground attack aircraft on suspected computer criminals.  Now, if we could just get this added to the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention then incident response will become a lot noisier!

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