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#Belfast2018: We Must Avoid Security Mistakes of the Past, says Former GCHQ Director

Speaking at CSIT’s eighth Annual World Cyber Security Summit in Belfast Robert Hannigan CMG, ex-director of GCHQ and chair, London Cyber Innovation Centre industrial advisory board reflected on the cyber-threat landscape and the challenges to secure it.

He argued that “we are retrofitting security onto an infrastructure that is fundamentally insecure, and was not built with security in mind. The internet was built in a great utopian, engineering vision and it wasn’t built with the idea that people would do things with it.”

We are desperately trying to retrofit security and a lot of people are getting a lot of commercial benefit from that, he said.

“I think the real challenge is to make sure we don’t repeat those mistakes in the future. How do we do the researching now and build the security now to make sure that people don’t look back in 20 years’ time and say that when the IoT explosion happened we hadn’t thought about security?” he asked.

Hannigan said we could amplify the problem we’ve already got by dumping billions of new processes into the network without any care for security.

There is still plenty to do in research, he added, and there is a need to “take some of the responsibility away from the individual. It’s not that individuals don’t need to care about it, but we’ve got to get the right balance between what can be built into hardware security” so we can take away from the individual a lot of the worries about that.

“There’s never been a more exciting time to be doing research in this area, and for that reason there is an opportunity here to get the future right in a way that the past wasn’t,” he concluded.

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