• “Given today’s common hardware and software architectural paradigms, operating systems security is a major primitive for secure systems – you will not succeed without it. This area is so important that it needs all the emphasis it can get. It is the current ‘black hole’ of security.”

    Brian Snow, Former Technical Director of the US National Security Agency (NSA), "We need assurance!", 1999-2008

  • "Today’s systems must anticipate future attacks. Any comprehensive system – whether for authenticated communications, secure data storage, or electronic commerce – is likely to remain in use for five years or more. It must be able to withstand the future: smarter attackers, more computational power, and greater incentives to subvert a widespread system. There won’t be time to upgrade it in the field."

    Bruce Schneier, "Why Cryptography Is Harder Than It Looks", 1997
  • “Assurance is best addressed during the initial design and engineering of security systems, NOT as an after market patch. The earlier you include a security architect in your design process, the greater the likely hood of a successful and robust design. As the quip goes, he who gets to the (module) interface first wins.”

    Brian Snow, Former Technical Director of the US National Security Agency (NSA), "We need Assurance", AusCERT 2008

  • “We are a cyber nation. The U.S. information infrastructure--including telecommunications and computer networks and systems and the data that reside on them--is critical to virtually every aspect of modern life. This information infrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to exploitation, disruption, and destruction by a growing array of adversaries.”

    The National Coordination Office (NCO) for Networking Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD), Federal Register: December 30, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 250).

  • “The more complex the threats become, the more you have to do the basics and groundwork really well. Staying aware and on top of new vulnerabilities and ensuring that patches and software updates are rapidly implemented is crucial.”

    Jeff Shipley, Cisco Intelligence Collection Manager, Cisco 2008 Annual Security Report

  • “Business now relies on information infrastructures that are interlinked and interdependent… The way in which these hidden interdependencies pervade our everyday lives is staggering and, in some cases, may go unchecked for many years until an incident occurs that revels the true nature of the interdependences' impact.”

    The British Government’s Technology Strategy Board, 2008
  • "First and foremost, there is no proper excuse for continued use of a broken cryptographic primitive (MD5) when sufficiently strong alternatives are readily available, for example SHA-2. Secondly, there is no substitute for security awareness." ... "Advice from experts should be taken seriously and early in the process. In this case, MD5 should have been phased out soon after 2004."

    Alexander Sotirov, Marc Stevens, Jacob Appelbaum, Arjen Lenstra, David Molnar, Dag Arne Osvik, Benne de Wegerr, "MD5 considered harmful today - Creating a rogue CA certificate", December 2008
  • “It's not good enough to have a system where everyone (using the system) must be trusted, it must also be made robust against insiders!”

    Robert Morris, former Chief Scientist of the US National Security Agency (NSA), National Computer Security Center, "Crypto '95 invited talks by R. Morris and A. Shamir", 1995

  • "History has taught us: never underestimate the amount of money, time, and effort someone will expend to thwart a security system. It's always better to assume the worst. Assume your adversaries are better than they are. Assume science and technology will soon be able to do things they cannot yet. Give yourself a margin for error. Give yourself more security than you need today. When the unexpected happens, you'll be glad you did."

    Bruce Schneier, "Why Cryptography Is Harder Than It Looks", 1997
  • “The current way which organisations approach security can be recognised as an underlying market failure which consists of fire fighting security problems, silo'd implementation of technologies, uncontrolled application development practices and a failure to address systemic problems. Organisations tend to deal with one problem at a time that results in the deployment of point solutions to treat singular problems. This failure is typical of an uncontrolled marketplace evolving with little or no co-ordination.

    The British Government’s Technology Strategy Board, 2008
  • "My colleagues at MIT and I have been building simple quantum computers and executing quantum algorithms since 1996, as have other scientists around the world. Quantum computers work as promised. If they can be scaled up, to thousands or tens of thousands of qubits from their current size of a dozen or so, watch out!

    Prof Seth Lloyd of MIT, MIT Review 2008

  • “When will we be secure? Nobody knows for sure – but it cannot happen before commercial security products and services possess not only enough functionality to satisfy customers’ stated needs, but also sufficient assurance of quality, reliability, safety, and appropriateness for use. Such assurances are lacking in most of today’s commercial security products and services.”

    Brian Snow, Former Technical Director of the US National Security Agency (NSA), "We need Assurance", 2005

  • "The future ability of quantum computers might be a decade or two away, their future ability to break public-key cryptography has important implications for the encryption of highly sensitive information today. For these applications, we must already design new public-key cryptosystems and one-way functions that are immune to quantum cryptanalysis."

    ARDA, Report of the Quantum Information Science and Technology Experts Panel, 2004

  • Build-in Security: Ensure that security is considered and built into the design of new infrastructure, so that our critical assets are protected from the start and more resilient to naturally-occurring and deliberate threats throughout their life-cycle."

    Obama-Biden Plan, Agenda: Homeland Security, December 2008

Resources Frequently asked questions Security in general fact: Security is on the 2009 agenda for America
fact: Security is on the 2009 agenda for America


The incoming U.S. President Elect, Barack Obama, has outlined a Homeland Security agenda here.

The agenda outlines the need for a hardened computing infrastructure in the United States.

This is an ambitious project that would require the entire network communications system to be upgraded and every network attached computer hardened. Synaptic technologies are targeted towards this type of endeavour.

The line between government infrastructure, commercial infrastructure and personal computer has blurred.  Today critical communications infrastructure, commercial networks and home networks are often built using exactly the same hardware and software. This is a natural result of economies of scale and the need to interoperate. The line is further blurred when we consider that today over a million computers attached to the Internet have been hacked. These computers are being used to conduct co-ordinated attacks against commercial and government organisations, and even against the insecure network infrastructure itself.

The techniques required to design and build reliable, high assurance devices are known. They are used daily in the medical, aviation, nuclear and defense sectors. Synaptic incrementally enhances known trusted protocols and algorithms to achieve 50-to-100 year security in large scale public networks. Synaptic has filed patent applications over the hardware and software techniques that enable these low cost, scalable, long-lived security systems to be designed using conservative well studied cryptographic components. These components can be deployed incrementally but they are also smaller parts of a larger vision to deploy a new hardened communications infrastructure that is being designed as a cryptographic high-assurance project from it's inception.  A universal network carrier that is capable of retroactively upgrading the security and performance of all carried data and voice communications protocols.

The Synaptic technologies relate specifically to the following points quoted from the Obama-Biden Homeland Security plan:

  • Initiate a Safe Computing R&D Effort and Harden our Nation's Cyber Infrastructure: Support an initiative to develop next-generation secure computers and networking for national security applications. Work with industry and academia to develop and deploy a new generation of secure hardware and software for our critical cyber infrastructure.
  • Protect the IT Infrastructure That Keeps America's Economy Safe: Work with the private sector to establish tough new standards for cyber security and physical resilience.
  • Create a National Infrastructure Protection Plan: Develop an effective critical infrastructure protection and resiliency plan for the nation and work with the private sector to ensure that targets are protected against all hazards.
  • Build-in Security: Ensure that security is considered and built into the design of new infrastructure, so that our critical assets are protected from the start and more resilient to naturally-occurring and deliberate threats throughout their life-cycle.
  • Prevent Corporate Cyber-Espionage: Work with industry to develop the systems necessary to protect our nation's trade secrets and our research and development. Innovations in software, engineering, pharmaceuticals and other fields are being stolen online from U.S. businesses at an alarming rate.
  • Develop a Cyber Crime Strategy to Minimize the Opportunities for Criminal Profit: Shut down the mechanisms used to transmit criminal profits by shutting down untraceable Internet payment schemes. Initiate a grant and training program to provide federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies the tools they need to detect and prosecute cyber crime.
  • Mandate Standards for Securing Personal Data and Require Companies to Disclose Personal Information Data Breaches: Partner with industry and our citizens to secure personal data stored on government and private systems. Institute a common standard for securing such data across industries and protect the rights of individuals in the information age.
  • Give Real Authority to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board: Support efforts to strengthen the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board with subpoena powers and reporting responsibilities. Give the Board a robust mandate designed to protect American civil liberties and demand transparency from the Board to ensure accountability.
  • Invest in Critical Infrastructure Projects: Invest in our nation's most pressing short and long-term infrastructure needs, including modernizing our electrical grid and upgrading our highway, rail, ports, water, and aviation infrastructure. Establish a Grid Modernization Commission to facilitate adoption of Smart Grid practices to improve efficiency and security of our electricity grid.

 

 
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