Lessons From The Past: 10 Immutable Laws Of Security (Version 2.0)

We looked at the 10 Immutable Laws of Security before. Then Microsoft security researcher Scott Culp posted a list of principles to keep in mind when considering computer security. Whether you are a novice user or an advanced user, it is sound advice to continue to use. In 2011 Microsoft decided to update the laws. As technology and the threat landscape keep evolving, so must our thinking and mental models. Below is the updated list. The differences with the old laws are bolded.

10 Immutable Laws Of Security (Version 2.0)

  1. If a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, it’s not solely your computer anymore.
  2. If a bad guy can alter the operating system on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.
  3. If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.
  4. If you allow a bad guy to run active content in your website, it’s not your website any more.
  5. Weak passwords trump strong security.
  6. A computer is only as secure as the administrator is trustworthy.
  7. Encrypted data is only as secure as the decryption key.
  8. An out-of-date antimalware scanner is only marginally better than no virus scanner at all.
  9. Absolute anonymity isn’t practically achievable, online or offline.
  10. Technology is not a panacea.

The old list of laws can be found here: https://www.modernsamurai.info/laws-of-security/

Lessons From The Past: 10 Immutable Laws Of Security

A long time ago I found ten rules for computer security on the Microsoft website. I thought the first rule said: “When someone else is at your computer, it’s no longer your computer.” At some point the article disappeared so I couldn’t verify if I remembered correctly. As it turns out, I didn’t. It is still a valuable rule. Physical access to your device is a serious security concern. Where malicious software installs remotely via your web browser, now it can be installed directly via an USB device, for example. This is also the perfect opportunity to modify your hardware. This could be installing a key logger or a tracking device, for example. The rule I remembered the principle of, is rule number three. The original laws were written fifteen years ago by then Microsoft security researcher Scott Culp. Keep the laws in mind as you work out a strategy and tactics for your digital security.

10 Immutable Laws Of Security

  1. If a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.
  2. If a bad guy can alter the operating system on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.
  3. If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.
  4. If you allow a bad guy to upload programs to your website, it’s not your website any more.
  5. Weak passwords trump strong security.
  6. A computer is only as secure as the administrator is trustworthy.
  7. Encrypted data is only as secure as the decryption key.
  8. An out of date virus scanner is only marginally better than no virus scanner at all.
  9. Absolute anonymity isn’t practical, in real life or on the Web.
  10. Technology is not a panacea.