RSA 2014: Keynote Calls for Industry to Trade Apathy for Outrage

San Francisco, home to the RSA Conference 2014
San Francisco, home to the RSA Conference 2014

 Despite the public’s trust in Government and privacy being at an “all time low”, and a general consensus that the attack on our information is “outrageous”, the response to date has been apathy and what Bitar named “#firstworldoutrage”. This, he declared, is not good enough.

“Liking a cause on Facebook is not outrage, nor is retweeting something. Not showing up at a conference is not outrage. We don’t give a damn. This is hashtag first-world outrage”, he said.

“Nation state attacks are putting our data, our businesses and our lives at risk, and we respond with first-world protests. We then have the audacity to be shocked by the NSA leaks of late”, Bitar exclaimed, “when in fact we were explicitly told we would be spied on.”

Whilst data centres around the world collect unprecedented amounts of our data, which Bitar declared “a violation of our fundamental rights”, he describes industry and citizen response as complicit, “standing by and watching a crime without trying to stop it, which is a crime in itself.”

People are only moved to action when their real values are under attack, he said. “Privacy, clearly, is not one of those. That’s long gone. We care only about family and money. We need to add our data to that list.”

Let Innovation Be Heard

Concern should also be focussed on the change of threat landscape, Bitar announced. “We’re watching attacks increase in sophisticated and damage, and last year Government officials admitted that cyber threats are a bigger threat than terrorism”. Yet, we’re stifling innovation by being over-critical when cyber-defence challenges convention.

“We should challenge bad ideas, but not dismiss convention challenges so quickly. Speak up, be loud, we’ll eventually listen”, Bitar advised.

At some point, Bitar warned, “an unchecked cyberattack will lead to real war, and real people will die. Would we go to war if a nation state compromised our air traffic control system, resulting in a collision of two planes?”

The information security industry is under attack from everyone and everything, argued Bitar, “but when will we say enough is enough? Haven’t we reached our breaking point?”

Corporations and citizens should be truly outraged at the current state of play, “not just first-world outraged. The time for apathy is over. We can no longer remain passive. It’s time for a new type of active defense which challenges the economics of hackers and disrupts data collection.”

It’s time, Juniper’s Bitar said, to turn the table on the tables on the attackers. “That, or we can do nothing and passively wait for the next world war to begin in Silicon Valley”, he concluded, to a loud round of applause.


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