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Security in 2020  

A visionary, must-read article by Bruce Schneier, for anyone who is interested in medium-term technology trends (and anyone in the startup world should be).

That's IT in 2020—­it's not under your control, it's doing things without your knowledge and consent, and it's not necessarily acting in your best interests. And this is how things will be when they're working as they're intended to work; I haven't even started talking about the bad guys yet.


Society's traditional parasites are criminals, but a broader definition makes more sense here. As we users lose control of those systems and IT providers gain control for their own purposes, the definition of "parasite" will shift. Whether they're criminals trying to drain your bank account, movie watchers trying to bypass whatever copy protection studios are using to protect their profits, or Facebook users trying to use the service without giving up their privacy or being forced to watch ads, parasites will continue to try to take advantage of IT systems. They'll exist, just as they always have existed, and ­like today­ - security is going to have a hard time keeping up with them.

Welcome to the future. Companies will use technical security measures, backed up by legal security measures, to protect their business models. And unless you're a model user, the parasite will be you.

A couple of observations:

  • Most of the population of a site like Hacker News will fall squarely in the "parasites" bucket.
  • Most tech startup founders will be natural parasites. That's part of what being a founder requires - the ability to ignore the rules and squeeze your vision out of uncooperative systems around you.
  • Disorganised parasites will get squashed.
  • There is a ten-year opportunity here to build the systems that will enable us parasites to coordinate and help each other.
  • Some of these systems exist already. What will these systems look like in 2020?
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