Steve Bellovin, another security expert, noted recently that one of risks of the new White House plan for cyber security is that it places too much emphasis on attribution. As Dr. Bellovin explains:
The fundamental premise of the proposed strategy is that our serious Internet security problems are due to lack of sufficient authentication. That is demonstrably false. The biggest problem was and is buggy code. All the authentication in the world won't stop a bad guy who goes around the authentication system, either by finding bugs exploitable before authentication is performed, finding bugs in the authentication system itself, or by hijacking your system and abusing the authenticated connection set up by the legitimate user.
While I believe the White House, the Cyber Security Advisor, and the various participants in the drafting process have made an important effort to address privacy and security interests, I share Professor Bellovin’s concern that too much emphasis has been placed on promoting identification.
I also believe that online identification, promoted by government, will be used for purposes unrelated to cyber security and could ultimately chill political speech and limit the growth of the Internet. Greater public participation in the development of this policy as well as a formal rulemaking on the White House proposal could help address these concerns.