Simplicity is key to keeping code secure

Friday, 9 August 2002, 9:25 AM EST

That was the advice passed down Thursday by security expert Paul Kocher, president of Cryptography Research, who told the Usenix Security Symposium in San Francisco that more powerful computer systems and increasingly complex code will be a growing cause of insecure networks.

Huge chunks of software such as Microsoft's Windows operating systems that have myriad features built in to take advantage of fast processors will perpetually have more flaws than security experts are able to uncover, he said. For this reason, programmers and companies should keep simplicity in mind when writing applications and only build in tools that appeal to 80% or more of users.

"The problem that we have is that we are getting these great performance improvements, which leads to increases in complexity, and I am not getting any smarter," Kocher said. "But it's not just me. I don't think you guys are getting smarter, either."

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