Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Who Needs Hackers? Complex Systems Break in Complex Ways

John Schwartz writes in The New York Times:

“We don’t need hackers to break the systems because they’re falling apart by themselves,” said Peter G. Neumann, an expert in computing risks and principal scientist at SRI International, a research institute in Menlo Park, Calif.

Steven M. Bellovin, a professor of computer science at Columbia University, said: “Most of the problems we have day to day have nothing to do with malice. Things break. Complex systems break in complex ways.”

When the electrical grid went out in the summer of 2003 throughout the Eastern United States and Canada, “it wasn’t any one thing, it was a cascading set of things,” Mr. Bellovin noted.

That is why Andreas M. Antonopoulos, a founding partner at Nemertes Research, a technology research company in Mokena, Ill., says, “The threat is complexity itself.”

More here.


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