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We think rare risks are more common than they are, and we fear them more than probability indicates we should.
One side creates ceramic handguns, laser-guided missiles, and new-identity theft techniques, while the other side creates anti-missile defense systems, fingerprint databases, and automatic facial recognition systems.
The problem is that it's not balanced: Attackers generally benefit from new security technologies before defenders do. Read More → Horrific events, such as the massacre in Aurora, can be catalysts for social and political change.
Our brains aren't very good at probability and risk analysis.
We tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar and common ones.
Read More → Imagine this: A terrorist hacks into a commercial airplane from the ground, takes over the controls from the pilots and flies the plane into the ground.
It sounds like the plot of some "Die Hard" reboot, but it's actually one of the possible scenarios outlined in a new Government Accountability Office report on security vulnerabilities in modern airplanes.It's certainly possible, but in the scheme of Internet risks I worry about, it's not very high.I'm more worried about the more pedestrian attacks against more common Internet-connected devices.They're pure security theater: They look good without doing anything to make us safer.We're stuck with them because of a combination of buck passing, CYA thinking and fear.There are two basic schools of thought about how this came to pass. Read More → One of the assurances I keep hearing about the U. government's spying on American citizens is that it's only used in cases of terrorism.Terrorism is, of course, an extraordinary crime, and its horrific nature is supposed to justify permitting all sorts of excesses to prevent it.Read More → On Monday, the TSA announced a peculiar new security measure to take effect within 96 hours.Passengers flying into the US on foreign airlines from eight Muslim countries would be prohibited from carrying aboard any electronics larger than a smartphone.As with the Patriot Act after 9/11, the debate over whether these new laws are helpful will be minimal, but the effects on civil liberties could be large.Even though most people are skeptical about sacrificing personal freedoms for security, it's hard for politicians to say no to the FBI right now, and it's politically expedient to demand that something be done.