View From the Wings at RSA

Surrounded by the production crew, piles of equipment and lots of people with earnest looks on their faces, backstage is an interesting place to watch a keynote. It’s Tuesday and Scott Charney, corporate vice president of Trustworthy Computing (TwC) has just addressed the audience at RSA Conference 2012 in San Francisco.

An articulate presenter, deep thinker and industry influential in his own right, he makes talking to 5,000+ people look easy. Still, it’s always a relief when big moments like this go off as planned. I knew Scott would be fine, but I’m relieved the technology worked; that Scott’s slides appeared in the right order and at the right time, the last round of edits were the ones displayed, and the Trustworthy Computing  Next white paper that Scott referenced was published on our website without a hitch.

That’s the point of technology right? It should all just work. To help you do whatever you want to do better, easier and more collaboratively.

But it could have gone wrong. Drafts of Scott’s slides, his notes, our press release and the whitepaper have all existed on our internal SharePoint site for weeks. My team and I have been sharing them over the internet, working from both corporate and remote/home office locations.  As we all know, being online involves risk/reward decisions, but thanks to organizations like our own Microsoft Information Technology group, those risks can be managed. If that came across as a little paranoid, I’m sorry. But, hey – I work in security, it’s how I, and my security colleagues in TwC, think. That is, what are the risks and have we done all we can to mitigate them to acceptable levels?

TwC was formed 10 years ago last month. A decade is a convenient milestone upon which to look back and, more importantly, to look forward. That’s what Scott’s keynote (see keynote video), and the whitepaper is all about – looking forward and thinking about what the big security, privacy and reliability challenges for society will be and consequently where TwC will focus for the years ahead.

The exponential growth of devices coupled with the cloud has aggregated huge amounts of ‘big data’ giving rise to the promise of huge societal benefits and tempting targets for criminals.

The nature of governments’ relationship with the internet will become increasingly schizophrenic as they develop their role as users of the internet, as protectors of those who use the internet as well as the internet itself, and as exploiters of the internet for a wide range of purposes.

And we mustn’t forget that the internet is a source of rich targets for criminal activity offering both anonymity and a lack of traceability that make it a compelling environment in which to perpetrate crime. Code is more secure but criminals remain opportunistic to exploit any lapse in defense such as a security update not applied, and willing to attack specific high value targets.

In his keynote, Scott sets out his thinking on these and other future challenges not only for my colleagues and I within the TwC Group, but for everyone concerned about making technology and the internet a safe and secure place.

I look forward to letting you know how it goes and thanks for your readership of our blog.

About the Author
Adrienne Hall

General Manager, Issues & Crisis Management

Adrienne Hall is the General Manager for Issues & Crisis Management at Microsoft, overseeing communication regarding a wide range of topics. Hall works closely with colleagues to ensure accurate and timely information is delivered, providing the details for customers and Read more »