Security lessons from Nature – The Pacific Barreleye
How could I not read about the Pacific Barreleye without mentioning it here? The fish, like most, lives in the water. Like many, it lives in the deep water. Like very few, it likes to eat siphonophores, a type of stringy jellyfish with lots of stinging cells. Like no others I know, it has a transparent head.
The theory here is that it uses the transparent head and scales to protect it’s eyes from it’s stinging prey. The video (which is here) looks a bit like computer rendering to me, but I know that there are transparent fish (boring link here) and mentions of this fish predate the recent news, so odds are that it’s real. What’s fascinating is that this critter is using transparency as a defense as well as an attack.
For years, people in the I.T. industry have been saying that we need to be more transparent in our business dealings. Attempts to make transparent software have resulted in open source software that is taking the market by storm. Opening up business processes have shown similar results.
In the security field, “transparency” often refers to security controls that the user doesn’t notice. These may be subtle barriers around the wrong actions tied with subtle rewards around the right actions. Sometimes it involves considerable monitoring and reaction only to known danger. In the physical world, these can be RFID tags and sensors that help prevent theft. In the electronic world, it can involve “watermarking” intellectual property or encrypting data for archival purposes. Security doesn’t have to get in the way, and making it as unobtrusive as possible can often make it more effective.
Of course, nature figured this out long ago.