That's the same approach needed now in the software industry to help drastically improve IT security, according to Bruce Schneier, a security expert, author and CTO of Mountain View, Calif.-based enterprise security vendor BT Counterpane. Today's more secure credit card systems were "built because the credit card companies were forced to assume the liability for fraud," Schneier said Wednesday at the opening keynote of the first LinuxWorld OpenSolutions Summit held here this week. "The trick here is to align responsibilities with capabilities."
A major problem with IT security, he said, is that even as new software patches and other fixes are posted, not every company or home user installs them. Instead, many users, both at work and at home, aren't motivated to keep up with security because vulnerabilities are often unseen, leaving them unaware that they are risking their own operations -- and the larger global system of networks, Schneier said.
"I think things are getting worse, not better," he said.
To change that, the ultimate economic responsibility for better software should be moved directly to software makers, who can directly influence the creation of more secure applications, he said. "If there is liability, we'll pay more [for software], but at least we'll get better software out of it and things will improve," Schneier said.
A penalty system will ultimately result in a more secure global IT system through better-built and better-maintained products. "That's what I want to affect, and liabilities have a way of doing that," Schneier said.