Bruce Schneier

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Bruce Schneier
Bruce Schneier at CoPS2013-IMG 9174.jpg
Bruce Schneier at the Congress on Privacy & Surveillance (2013) of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
Born (1963-01-15) January 15, 1963 (age 58)[1]
New York City, New York
Residence United States
Citizenship American
Fields Computer science
Institutions Harvard University
Counterpane Internet Security
Bell Labs
United States Department of Defense
BT Group
Alma mater American University
University of Rochester
Known for Cryptography, security

Bruce Schneier (/ˈʃnaɪər/; born January 15, 1963[1]) is an American cryptographer, computer security and privacy specialist, and writer. He is the author of several books on general security topics, computer security and cryptography.

Schneier is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, a program fellow at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute and the CTO of Resilient Systems.[2] He is also a contributing writer for The Guardian news organization.[3]

Early life

Bruce Schneier is the son of Martin Schneier, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge. He grew up in Flatbush, attending P.S. 139 and Hunter High School.[4] After receiving a physics bachelor's degree from the University of Rochester in 1984,[5] he went to American University in Washington, D.C. and got his master's degree in computer science in 1988.[6] He was awarded an honorary Ph.D from the University of Westminster in London, England in November 2011. The award was made by the Department of Electronics and Computer Science in recognition of Schneier's 'hard work and contribution to industry and public life'.

Schneier was a founder and chief technology officer of BT Managed Security Solutions, formerly Counterpane Internet Security, Inc.

Writings on computer security and general security

In 1994, Schneier published Applied Cryptography, which details the design, use, and implementation of cryptographic algorithms. In 2010 he published Cryptography Engineering, which is focused more on how to use cryptography in real systems and less on its internal design. He has also written books on security for a broader audience. In 2000, Schneier published Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World; in 2003, Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World; in 2012, Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive; and in 2015, Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World.[7]

Schneier writes a freely available monthly Internet newsletter on computer and other security issues, Crypto-Gram, as well as a security weblog, Schneier on Security.[8] The weblog started out as a way to publish essays before they appeared in Crypto-Gram, making it possible for others to comment on them while the stories were still current, but over time the newsletter became a monthly email version of the blog, re-edited and re-organized.[9][citation needed] Schneier is frequently quoted in the press on computer and other security issues, pointing out flaws in security and cryptographic implementations ranging from biometrics to airline security after the September 11 attacks. He also writes "Security Matters", a regular column for Wired Magazine.[10]

Schneier revealed on his blog that in the December 2004 issue of the SIGCSE Bulletin, three Pakistani academics, Khawaja Amer Hayat, Umar Waqar Anis, and S. Tauseef-ur-Rehman, from the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan, plagiarized an article written by Schneier and got it published.[11] The same academics subsequently plagiarized another article by Ville Hallivuori on "Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) security" as well.[11] Schneier complained to the editors of the periodical, which generated a minor controversy.[12] The editor of the SIGCSE Bulletin removed the paper from their website and demanded official letters of admission and apology. Schneier noted on his blog that International Islamic University personnel had requested him "to close comments in this blog entry"; Schneier refused to close comments on the blog, but he did delete posts which he deemed "incoherent or hostile".[11]



To Schneier, peer review and expert analysis are important for the security of cryptographic systems.[13] Mathematical cryptography is usually not the weakest link in a security chain; effective security requires that cryptography be combined with other things.[14]

The term Schneier's law was coined by Cory Doctorow in his speech about Digital Rights Management for Microsoft Research,[15] which is included in his 2008 book Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future. The law is phrased as:

Any person can invent a security system so clever that he or she can't imagine a way of breaking it.

He attributes this to Bruce Schneier, presumably making reference to his book Applied Cryptography, although the principle predates its publication. In The Codebreakers, David Kahn states:

Few false ideas have more firmly gripped the minds of so many intelligent men than the one that, if they just tried, they could invent a cipher that no one could break.

Similarly, in A Few Words On Secret Writing in Graham's Magazine (July 1841), Edgar Allan Poe stated

Few persons can be made to believe that it is not quite an easy thing to invent a method of secret writing which shall baffle investigation. Yet it may be roundly asserted that human ingenuity cannot concoct a cipher which human ingenuity cannot resolve.

Digital rights management

Schneier is critical of digital rights management (DRM) and has said that it allows a vendor to increase lock-in.[16] Proper implementation of control-based security for the user via trusted computing is very difficult, and security is not the same thing as control.[16]

Homeland security

Schneier has said that homeland security money should be spent on intelligence, investigation, and emergency response.[17] Defending against the broad threat of terrorism is generally better than focusing on specific potential terrorist plots.[17] According to Schneier, analysis of intelligence data is difficult but is one of the better ways to deal with global terrorism.[18] Human intelligence has advantages over automated and computerized analysis, and increasing the amount of intelligence data that is gathered does not help to improve the analysis process.[18] Agencies that were designed around fighting the Cold War may have a culture that inhibits the sharing of information; the practice of sharing information is more important and less of a security threat in itself when dealing with more decentralized and poorly funded adversaries such as al Qaeda.[19]

Regarding PETN—the explosive that has become terrorists' weapon of choice—Schneier has written that only swabs and dogs can detect it. He also believes that changes to airport security since 11 September 2001 have done more harm than good and he defeated Kip Hawley, former head of the Transportation Security Administration, in an Economist online debate by 87% to 13% regarding the issue.[20] He is widely credited with coining the term security theater to describe some such changes.

As a Fellow of Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, Schneier is exploring the intersection of security, technology, and people, with an emphasis on power.[21]

System design

Schneier has criticized security approaches that try to prevent any malicious incursion, instead arguing that designing systems to fail well is more important.[22] The designer of a system should not underestimate the capabilities of an attacker; technology may make it possible in the future to do things that are not possible at the present.[13] Under Kerckhoffs's Principle, the need for one or more parts of a cryptographic system to remain secret increases the fragility of the system; whether details about a system should be obscured depends upon the availability of persons who can make use of the information for beneficial uses versus the potential for attackers to misuse the information.[23]

Secrecy and security aren't the same, even though it may seem that way. Only bad security relies on secrecy; good security works even if all the details of it are public.[24]

Full disclosure

Schneier is a proponent of full disclosure, i.e. making security issues public.

If researchers don’t go public, things don’t get fixed. Companies don't see it as a security problem; they see it as a PR problem.[25]

Other writing

Schneier and Karen Cooper were nominated in 2000 for the Hugo Award, in the category of Best Related Book, for their Minicon 34 Restaurant Guide, a work originally published for the Minneapolis science fiction convention Minicon which gained a readership internationally in science fiction fandom for its wit and good humor.[26]

Cryptographic algorithms

Schneier has been involved in the creation of many cryptographic algorithms.



Bruce Schneier is a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[27]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Bruce Schneier | Facebook". Facebook.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Bruce Schneier, CTO of Resilient Systems, Inc".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Contributor Profile
  4. Samuel Newhouse (February 9, 2009). ""Schneier on Security;" A Judge's Son Builds a Reputation of Cryptic Fame". Brooklyn Daily Eagle.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Drew Amorosi (July 11, 2011). "Interview: BT's Bruce Schneier". InfoSecurity.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Charles C. Mann Homeland Insecurity
  7. Austin, Richard (12 March 2015). "review of Data and Goliath: The hidden Battles to capture your data and control your world". Cipher. Retrieved 18 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Blood, Rebecca (January 2007). "Bruce Schneier". Bloggers on Blogging. Retrieved April 19, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Schneier, Bruce. "Security Matters". Wired Magazine. Retrieved March 10, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Schneier on Security: Plagiarism and Academia: Personal Experience". Retrieved June 9, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "ONLINE – International News Network". June 9, 2007. Retrieved June 9, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 Schneier, Bruce (1997). "Why Cryptography Is Harder Than It Looks". Retrieved 2011-04-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Ferguson, Niels; Schneier, Bruce. "Practical Cryptography: Preface". Retrieved 2011-04-08.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Cory Doctorow (2004-06-17). "Microsoft Research DRM talk". Archived from the original on 2006-12-02. Retrieved 2006-12-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 Schneier, Bruce (2008-02-07). "With iPhone, 'Security' Is Code for 'Control'". Retrieved 2011-04-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 Schneier, Bruce (2005-09-08). "Terrorists Don't Do Movie Plots". Wired News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 Schneier, Bruce (2004-01-09). "Homeland Insecurity". Retrieved 2011-04-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Schneier, Bruce (2010-01-15). "Fixing intelligence failures – SFGate". SFGate. Retrieved 2011-04-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "International terrorism: AQAP tries again: Good intelligence work still leaves questions over airport security", The Economist, dated 12 May 2012.
  21. "Berkman Center Announces 2013–2014 Community". Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. July 8, 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Homeland Insecurity, Atlantic Monthly, September 2002
  23. Schneier, Bruce (2002-05-15). "Crypto-Gram: May 15, 2002". Retrieved 2011-04-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. New York: Tor Teen, 2008, page 129.
  25. "Charlie Miller's Punishment By Apple Tests A Complex Relationship" Huffington Post, 2011.
  26. "Hugo Awards Nominations". Locus Magazine. April 21, 2000.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Jeschke, Rebecca (2013-06-27). "Renowned Security Expert Bruce Schneier Joins EFF Board of Directors". Retrieved 2013-07-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links