CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (650) 723-2558
Mitnick creates Sputnik-like urgency for better computer security
STANFORD -- Mitnick may become to computer security in 1995 what Sputnik was to national security and U.S. science education in 1958: a wake-up call that the United States is falling behind other nations, according to Carey Heckman, chair of the Fifth Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy (CFP'95), to be held in Burlingame, Calif., March 28- 31.
“The United States is the only technologically advanced nation to frustrate the ability of businesses and citizens to protect themselves with a completely secure encryption system,” said Heckman, who teaches technology law at Stanford Law School.
By obstructing the development and sales of computer security technologies, the government has weakened the system of "computer defense," which in the Information Age "could be as damaging to national economic interests as the space-science lag was to military security in the Cold War era of the '50s," he said.
Sputnik was the name of the first Soviet space satellite, a grapefruit-sized communications device that in the late 1950s shocked the United States into a space race and reinvigorated science and engineering education in U.S. schools The arrest of Kevin Mitnick in mid- February for allegedly stealing thousands of credit-card numbers and other information by breaching the security of several major computer- network bulletin board services may shock the country into action as well, Heckman said.
The fallout from the Mitnick case will be among the issues explored at CFP'95, which will take place at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel. The conference is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery and by Stanford Law School, through its Stanford Law and Technology Policy Center.
Speakers and attendees from throughout the United States and many other nations will discuss computer security and the Mitnick case, as well as topics such as freedom and responsibility of electronic speech, equal access to use of computer and data communications technologies, intellectual property on the Internet, and the privacy implications of proposed databases on students and of intelligent transportation systems.
Among the scheduled speakers at CFP'95 is Kent Walker, the assistant U.S. attorney who led the investigation and arrest of Mitnick. Matthew Blaze, the AT&T Bell Laboratories scientist who discovered a fatal flaw in the government's Clipper Chip encryption technology, will present a tutorial titled “Everything You Need to Know to Argue About Cryptography.” Willis Ware, a long-time computer science and privacy expert, will speak about privacy and security on the National Information Infrastructure. A panel of experts will discuss existing technical and policy impediments to secure international communications. Members of the National Academy of Sciences commission studying cryptography policy at the Congress's request will be at CFP'95 to gather opinions from conference participants.
"Mitnick may unwittingly go down in history as a major contributor to improved computer security and as a symbol that the nation has much work to do in the area of assuring freedom of communications from unwarranted monitoring or intrusion, legal or illegal," Heckman said.
He said he agreed with CFP'91 Chair Jim Warren of Woodside, who recently observed in the San Jose Mercury News that a major irony is how the adoption of a security encryption system has been stymied by the FBI and the National Security Agency, who desire to safeguard their ability to investigate suspected wrongdoers.
Acknowledging that such investigatory power may be a valid concern, Heckman said that other nations have nevertheless moved ahead with secure encryption standards, while the United States, which professes to most value freedom of communication and protections from privacy intrusions, is lagging behind.
“Our government has made it possible for any Mitnick to penetrate our digital communications systems, thus threatening all of us and creating a new arena of criminal activity -- all in the name of being able to monitor criminal activity more easily,” Heckman said.
Additional scheduled speakers at CFP'95 include:
For additional information or press credentials, contact Scott Nicholas, Stanford Law and Technology Policy Center, Stanford, CA 94305- 8610, at (415) 966-9695, or fax (415) 725-1861 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. A complete program for CFP'95 can be obtained by writing CFP'95, P.O. Box 6657, San Mateo, CA 94403, or fax (415) 548-0840, or call (415) 548-9673, or send e-mail to Info.CFP95@forsythe.stanford.edu.
The Stanford Law and Technology Policy Center was established within Stanford Law School in 1988. The center helps state, national and international policymakers improve how the law promotes technological innovation, limits technological abuse and responds to technological change.
LID, PW, BAN, BAB, LAN, BWIRE, BUS natbus calbus magbus tvbus tech, ENGSCI comm comp, JOURN, LAW, POLIT U.S. computer security
FIFTH CONFERENCE ON COMPUTERS, FREEDOM AND PRIVACY
WHEN:March 28-31, 1995
WHERE:San Francisco Airport Marriott, Burlingame, California
SPONSORS:Association for Computing Machinery
Stanford Law School (through its Stanford Law and Technology
THEME:“Defining Rights at the Crossroads of the Information Age”
PURPOSE:Assemble experts, advocates, and interested people from a broad spectrum of disciplines and backgrounds in a balanced public forum.
Special efforts made to promote active dialogue between persons representing different perspectives in an effort to foster a dynamic environment that can produce new approaches and solutions.
WHO:Open to general public
ATTENDANCE:500-550; press credentials already requested by national and regional newspapers, national news weeklies, trade publications, and media from outside the United States
TRANTS:President of an East Coast software developer
Canadian government official
MIT computer science professor
High school history teacher
Attorney from Italy
Senior staff person from the American Civil Liberties Union
Partner from a major Silicon Valley law firm
CEO of a British software company
Exchange student from Russia
COST:$395 ($445 after March 14) for three-day conference and $185 ($220 after March 14) for a full day of tutorials
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