The opening keynote speaker was Dan Kaminsky, co-founder and Chief Scientist of White Ops, also famous as one of the seven “key shareholders” of the Internet’s Domain Name System, charged with responsibility for restoring it in the event of disruption. His keynote had the informative subtitle “Why this Internet Worked, How We Could Lose it, and the Role Hackers Play.”
Kaminsky opened with a familiar but nonetheless heartfelt warning that the bad actors in cyberspace were fast, capable, and dangerous. He argued that we should aspire to make security easier, because there are a lot of bad guys (and bad ideas) out there, and they threaten the Internet’s users: “they’re coming for us.” A kind of National Institutes of Health for cybersecurity would be a move in the right direction, in which information were freely shared to build collective immunity.
He also noted that as an industry, cyber security has a problem. The sector makes large promises about technology, and Kaminsky thinks it’s overpromising. People are becoming skeptical. New industries usually enjoy a kind of grace period in the court of public opinion (and in the marketplace) during which they can get their act together. The grace period for the security industry, Kaminsky thinks, is about up.
Some specific observations from investors over the course of the conference fleshed this observation out. Start-ups need to differentiate themselves, and they need to offer products that can be easily and affordably implemented and maintained within their customers’ infrastructure.