The next generation of computing will require a new legislative framework, delegates at the 20th annual Compsec conference heard yesterday.
In her keynote address Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, chairwoman of IT research firm QinetQ and a BBC governor, said the coming years could see mobile computing available to everyone in society.
But this will require a series of legislative changes in computer security if it is to be successful, she warned. Electronic identities that people can trust and new laws on the ownership of data may be needed to protect companies and individuals.
Dame Neville-Jones added that the education system will also have to be improved, so that all children are taught not only about technology but how to use it properly and responsibly. This education process should be extended to all levels of society
"The benefits of true mobile computing will only be realised if trust is inherent. Society must have a reasonable grasp of technology - this is equipment for life. Technology and the responsible use of it should be part of the school curriculum," she said.
"Legislators, too, need to be better informed. There are technology organisations in the House of Commons and a number of MPs who are knowledgeable within them. I wish the knowledge they have was more widely disseminated."
As a free-marketeer, Dame Neville-Jones was confident that an acceptable balance could be struck between the needs of the legal system and the technology industry.
She rejected calls for vendors to submit software for pre-release scrutiny by independent regulators, but said experts and lawyers should work more closely during the design stage of projects.
Business will have to play its part, the Bank of England warned.
"Risk management isn't an exact science, there's a lot of wet finger guesswork," said Peter Kaye, security advisor to the Bank of England.
"We need to ensure that we in the business sphere understand the breadth and depth of the problem. An increased dependence on technology creates a vulnerability that needs protecting."
Businesses can do much to educate their staff on safe computer use and improve their physical and computer security, he added.
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