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Crypto-Gram: Insurance and the Future of Network Security

Mar 16, 2001, 19:49 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bruce Schneier)

[ Thanks to Fred Mobach for this link. ]

"Imagine the future.... Every business has network security insurance, just as every business has insurance against fire, theft, and any other reasonable threat. To do otherwise would be to behave recklessly and be open to lawsuits. Details of network security become check boxes when it comes time to calculate the premium. Do you have a firewall? Which brand? Your rate may be one price if you have this brand, and a different price if you have another brand. Do you have a service monitoring your network? If you do, your rate goes down this much."

"This process changes everything. What will happen when the CFO looks at his premium and realizes that it will go down 50% if he gets rid of all his insecure Windows operating systems and replaces them with a secure version of Linux?" The choice of which operating system to use will no longer be 100% technical. Microsoft, and other companies with shoddy security, will start losing sales because companies don't want to pay the insurance premiums. In this vision of the future, how secure a product is becomes a real, measurable, feature that companies are willing to pay for...because it saves them money in the long run."

"Other systems will be affected, too. Online merchants and brick-and-mortar merchants will have different insurance premiums, because the risks are different. Businesses can add authentication mechanisms -- public-key certificates, biometrics, smart cards -- and either save or lose money depending on their effectiveness. Computer security "snake-oil" peddlers who make outlandish claims and sell ridiculous products will find no buyers as long as the insurance industry doesn't recognize their value. In fact, the whole point of buying a security product or hiring a security service will not be based on threat avoidance; it will be based on risk management."

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