Modern field guide to security and privacy

Podcast: Half-life of secrets, golden age of surveillance, and the US military's Starship Enterprise

On The Cybersecurity Podcast, Passcode's Sara Sorcher and New America's Peter Singer interview leading privacy and Internet scholar Peter Swire and Palo Alto Networks' Chief Security Officer Rick Howard. 

Eddie Keogh/Reuters
A detail from graffiti art is seen on a wall near the headquarters of Britain's eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters. British media have attributed the new work to acclaimed British street artist Banksy, as a spoof on recent government spying scandals exposed by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor.

Is law enforcement "going dark" in its pursuit of criminals and terrorists as default security protections for consumer devices get stronger, or does the proliferation of technology and expansion of online communications mean we're living in a Golden Age of Surveillance?

What more could the US do to reform its surveillance practices? Why is it so difficult for the government to keep secrets in the Digital Age – and will the threat of leakers such as Edward Snowden exposing classified surveillance programs persist? 

Leading privacy and cyberlaw scholar Peter Swire joins New America’s Peter Singer and Passcode’s Sara Sorcher to answer all those questions and more on The Cybersecurity Podcast

"A thumb drive holds more than a mainframe did not that long ago," said Mr. Swire, a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology who also served on President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology.

"You can walk out of a facility with a thumb drive. You can post things through WikiLeaks – and you don't have to have The New York Times decide whether they want to print it," Swire continued. "And when we think about the Internet of Things and sensors everywhere, going somewhere secretly without a camera seeing you – and then big data analytics seeing the patterns when they've done it – these technology trends really make it harder to have your activities be secret." 

Rick Howard, chief security officer for Palo Alto Networks and an Army veteran, joins the podcast to weigh in on the line between spying for economic advantage and state secrets. He also discusses whether companies should be able to strike back when they’re under cyberattack – and if proposed threat information-sharing plans will be effective. He also shares stories about how the military, in the early days of cybersecurity, took a stab at recreating science fiction. 

The podcast is cohosted by Peter W. Singer, strategist at the New America think tank and author of "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know," and Sara Sorcher, deputy editor of The Christian Science Monitor's Passcode. The podcast is available for download on iTunes. You can find more information about the podcast on Passcode's long-form storytelling platform. Bookmark New America's SoundCloud page for new episodes or sign up for Passcode below.

In previous episodes, The Cybersecurity Podcast team interviewed Katie Moussouris, chief policy officer for HackerOne, about ways to incentivize hackers to report vulnerabilities they find and whether stunt hacking – such as when two security pros compromised a Jeep Cherokee while a reporter was driving it – is the only way to draw attention to cybersecurity issues. They also spoke with Brunswick Group's Siobhan Gorman about the "golden rules" companies should follow when disclosing they've been breached. 

Singer and Sorcher also spoke with Cory Doctorow – science fiction author, journalist, and coeditor of Boing Boing – about the lessons about cyber conflict that can be learned from science fiction and whether young people even care about the mass collection of their personal online data by governments and countries. Dan Kaufman, who at the time was head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Information Innovation Office, also joined the podcast to discuss what it's like to run the part of the Pentagon's futuristic arm responsible for anticipating future cyberconflict and developing new Internet technologies. 

Previous episodes have also included guests such as Bruce Schneier, prolific author and chief technology officer at Resilient Systems; Nate Fick, the chief executive officer of Endgame, a venture-backed security intelligence software company; and Wired's Kim Zetter, author of "Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon.

The team also interviewed Alex Stamos, who at the time was Yahoo's chief information security officer, and Heather West of Internet performance and security company CloudFlare.

Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, the Army's top cyber commander, and Shane Harris, reporter at The Daily Beast and author of '@War, The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex,' joined for the first episode. 

You can find the episodes on New America's SoundCloud page and they are available for download on iTunes. 


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