Star Wars and a Post-Encryption Universe

Will information ever be 100% secure online? As good as our systems might someday become, they will probably still have countless flaws, especially if they were designed by humans. With it’s Internet-of-Things-attacks and political email leaks, 2016 may be our first taste of what it’s like living in a post-cybersecurity world. Which makes me think a lot about cybersecurity in Star Wars.

Part of Star Wars’s big charm was how it seemed futuristic and retro at the same time. I used to imagine it was a place where different technologies caught on sooner than others, but these days I like to think of it is a world where no digital information is ever considered safe. In a post-cybersecurity landscape, it would actually make more sense to physically send critical Death Star plans through space via an out-of-date automaton than to send them wirelessly. This same mistrust in cybersecurity could also explain the overly complex central computer in Rogue One.

cybersecurity in Star Wars

In Battlestar Galactica, the humans learned the hard way what happens when they get too reliant on inter-connected computers to run their ships. It was Commander Adama’s insistence that the ship restrict itself to more low-tech and manual resources that the ship was able to survive the great Cylon attack. Earlier today, president-elect Trump said “It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way” adding “no computer is safe”. The man knows a thing or two about how hackers can throw an election.

So the next time you watch Star Wars and chuckle at the fact that they’ve mastered light speed technology, but still save data on magnetic tape, wonder if that design is remnant of 1970s sci-fi or a well thought precaution in a post-cybersecurity landscape.

cyber security in star wars






3 responses to “Star Wars and a Post-Encryption Universe

  1. […] Cybersecurity in the Star Wars universe […]

  2. Jeremy Brooks Avatar

    I find your lack of faith in technology disturbing!

    But seriously, that’s an interesting way to think about it. The manual tape retrieval scene initially struck me as ridiculous, but layering “security” on top of it actually makes some sense.

  3. Mike K Avatar

    I wrote this in response to Tim posting

    In a world where machine intelligence seems to be everywhere, the only interoperable access seems to be reserved for droids. Perhaps other forms of data access are intentionally obfuscated to make it harder to directly access the substrate of machine intelligence? Additionally, all non-droid user interfaces look incredibly clumsy, almost as if they are intentionally so. They talk of “re-programming” droids, but it seems like any droid that is provided with sufficient autonomy gains some sort of irreverent attitude and personality.

    I think vast amounts of machine intelligence operate behind the scenes in that universe. Biologicals are limited to stunted forms as to contain meddling and interaction.

    Relevant fictions that this and a response to this comment made me think of: Iain M. Banks’ Culture series. Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space series.

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