Bruce Schneier is an American cryptographer, computer security professional, privacy specialist, and a writer who studies the human side of security, he posts a monthly blog and newsletter on is said that Bruce is” the closest thing the security industry has to a rock star “. Bruce Schneier - Wikipedia


The book starts off talking about how trust plays such a big role in our daily life and we don’t really realize it.  For example, walking on a street passing by many people, you just trust them that they won’t hurt you or don’t see any of them as a sexual rival, similarly a house helper you trust her in the house that she won’t steal and just do her job and then you give a piece of paper trusting that she will give it to the bank and then you are trusting the bank that they will credit the respective amount. More than trust Schneier calls it civilization.

Then Schneier talks about how It is in our self-interest to act in a group interest, we always have an ulterior motive at the end of the day,  even though we are collectively better off if society limits individual behavior. But every basket of apples has a rotten one, every system in the world has parasites who try to subvert the system to their own ends from spams on the internet to tapeworms in my digestive tract. This is where the topic of security is introduced and explained how a balance of security and trust to survive in a society. Schneier emphasizes on the fact that society runs on trust. , that doesn’t mean trust completely or blindly but be reasonably sure that there will be trustworthy in return.

Then we talk about norms and failures of trust. Norms are the same for everyone but the situations are different when they come across a particular norm like People might break the norms not because they are selfish and expect more but because his moral compass tells him to for example fleeing from a country due to slavery. People who defy the norm breaker become the catalyst for social changes. I don’t defy but is not 100% too

Some of the famous failures of trust are when people use a global system for personal gains

1.Fraud on the internet – identity theft, etc compared to olden times there was nothing

2. Globalization – terrorist attacks like the 9 /11 –

3.One of the factories finish processing, they discard the chemical products giving a peculiar smell, this is how it environmentally affects on the global level.

The biggest ides Schneier wants to reflect upon is Trust within groups and we can trust that defectors won’t take advantage  and how it is as important as oxygen

     1.Social life more predictable

     2.Sense of community

     3.Easier to work together

We trust people based on two factors one is intentions, we trust someone who we already know , that is just a general reliance, but a stranger is when we decide based upon their future actions if they are trustworthy.

 The most extreme failures rarely happen in the modern industrial world is proof that we have largely gotten societal pressures

as the whole body of the book is about trust, he explains the four different types of trust we talk about

     1.Moral pressure -societal pressure from our own heads and strictly follow rules like not stealing

     2. Reputational pressure- others respond to our action and we expect a good response in order to maintain our reputation

     3. Institutional – rules, and law, when you behave according  to the group norms by imposing sanction who don’t and rewards who do

     4.Security- induce cooperation and trust, door locks, fences, prevent defections

Next, we talk about Society – it can be any group of people with a loose common interest and societal dilemma means when the character has to choose between her own competing interests or the group’s interests.  Schneier believes the defection is in the eye of the beholder

And then they are two types of categories in various systems, attackers are basically the predators and defenders are the prey .

42 Great Quotes By Bruce Schneier That You Can't Afford To Miss

In chapter 2 : A natural history of security

TRUST AND SECURITY GO HAND IN HAND   Why security is really all about trust | CSO Online

We go into more depth of security and its importance. , when there is no trust, you need security, and that is the key element of security which can help you build up the trust gradually, it is what brings risk to tolerable levels. Schneier stalks about biological diversity by using certain examples of animals to justifies his statements . he talks about how only reproduction and predation were the only two processes that existed in life. He  also tells us that security was the fourth ever activity on this planet. He talks about evolutionary adaptations that are related to security on different levels. Predator develops new ways to catch prey and the preys develop new ways to evade a predator, that is how security also works you can keep on developing and evolving better ways.

He also mentions about different effects and experiments conducted on different animals like polar bears or gorillas, how they adapt and evolve with their surroundings and how their secretive measures keep on increasing. . He uses the reference of ” the red queen effect in action. “

Red Queen Effect and Blue Ocean StrategySchneier on Security: Liars and Outliers: Figures

Chapter 3 : The evolution of cooperation

Schneier talks about the two most successful species on the planet which are humans and leafcutter ants of Brazil due to the act division of labor which results in individuals specializing in specific tasks. And this is where the role of trust and dependencies come in daily life.  The ants are all siblings they have trust and cooperation instilled ,for humans we need to gradually build it up.

And then the game theory is introduced, HAWK DOVE GAME – invented by John Maynard Smith and George R Price – it tells us that hawks can never go down to 0 similarly parasites will never go down to 0 but we can just try to reach the minimum level and avoid them. In order to maintain society, we have to make the rate of defection small enough always.

Defender/Offender Game With Defender Learning. Classical Game Theory Hawk-Dove Game Hawk-Dove Game Evolutionary Stable Evolutionary Stable Strategy (ESS) - ppt download

The last topic of this post is Cooperation, they are two types

1.Mutualism – different types of species cooperate because they can perform tasks together which they can’t do by themselves 2.Reciprocal Altruism – we treat the people in the same way we have been treated, Amotz Zahavi’s handicap principle and neuroscience might help explain altruism using FMRI amygdala.

Repeated fMRI in measuring the activation of the amygdala without habituation when viewing faces displaying negative emotions

Eventually, if you reflect back upon your daily life you will realize we trust people who are similar to us, who dress up, talk, act like us, etc. And humans tend to generalize , if they have a good time with a person from a particular region, they’ll assume it is going to be the same for everyone else belonging to that region too, and tend to trust all of them, which is a pretty flawed way of judging.

Mathematical biologist  Martin A Nowak explores how cooperation has evolved with time.

  1. Direct Reciprocity – being altruistic to you today, so you will be altruistic to be tomorrow
  2. Indirect Reciprocity – being altruistic to you today, so my reputation increases which will help me gain more people who are altruistic to me
  3. Network reciprocity – being altruistic to you today, we are both in a group who are altruistic to each other, being part of the group will help me gain more people who are altruistic to me
  4. Group selection-being altruistic to you today, we are both in a group who are altruistic to each other, the group will survive longer than a group of non-altruists

Martin A. Nowak | Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Till here he just gives a jist of his definitions of certain terms like security, trust, cooperation, and how all three of them are interlinked and about biological diversity which influences trust which is pretty unexpected.

I agree with Schneier on his definitions of trust, security, and cooperation and how they are interlinked. the only thing I disliked is using too many past biological experiments can bore the readers and they can lose their attention span. Even though it is about natural history it could have been presented in an easier way for the audience who knows nothing about it are also able to understand it. I feel that human nature resists change but still has to, hence we keep on progressing ahead and evolving.

One of the biggest examples is right now, the way all the readers are going to trust my word on this book.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!