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The Safety Trade-Off

Bruce Schneier Differentiates Between the Feeling and Reality of Security

— February 16, 2012 — Keynote Trends
Computer security expert Bruce Schneier speaks on the inherent disjunction between the feeling of security and the reality of security, which he says don’t always match. Bruce Schneier separates the two concepts, discussing where they diverge and converge by providing better definitions for each that are supported with economic and psychological principles. Bruce Schneier claims that when thinking of security in economic terms, there is always a trade-off, whether it be money, time, convenience or fundamental liberties, and that the question should be whether the trade-off is worth it.

Bruce Schneier highlights several cognitive biases that affect our risk decisions that may have a counter-intuitive effect on our feeling of security. According to Bruce Schneier, “we tend to exaggerate spectacular and rare risks, downplay common risks,” for example, flying versus driving. Drawing on the example of the availability heuristic phenomenon, Schneier explains why the unknown seems more risky than the familiar, even though, for example, the fear of kidnapping by strangers is higher even though the data supports that kidnapping mostly occurs by family members.
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