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May 2013 / Volume 15 / No. 4

Editor’s desk: A chat with Peter G. Neumann

We are honored this month to feature a Q&A with security pioneer Peter G. Neumann, who has logged more than 40 years at non-profit SRI International’s Computer Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif., researching computer security platforms and trustworthy systems. Neumann is interviewed by fellow security system design expert and ISM columnist, Marcus Ranum, who shares similar views on the need for clean-slate architectures and a do-over on security to prevent unreliable systems and short-term solutions to far-sighted security problems. After 60 years in the industry, Neumann is still at it; working on clean-slate architectures with Robert N. Watson of Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory, who developed Capsicum (POSIX API), which supports “object-like” security on Unix-like operating systems. Incremental adoption by developers is the way forward, Neumann told Ranum. “Capsicum and our current workshow that clean-slate architectures need not throw away everything and start from scratch, but rather that there are some evolutionary ...

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