How the Red Queen Applies to Information Security


I’m reading a book called The Red Queen, which is basically about mating strategies of all sorts of animals, and other evolutionary topics.

One of the coolest concepts (the central one, actually) is that there are certain types of races called Red Queen Races, where organisms must constantly adapt, evolve, and proliferate not merely to gain reproductive advantage, but also simply to survive while pitted against ever-evolving organisms.

It comes from Alice in Wonderland, where she meets a queen who runs constantly, but in a circle, so she keeps ending up back where she started.

The classic example given from evolution is host and parasite.

Basically, parasites and hosts are constantly interlocked in combat, and they both constantly improve (usually) without winning. If the parasite doesn’t evolve, then the immune system’s improvements will kill it off. And if the immune system doesn’t evolve, then the parasite’s improvements might completely take it over.

It made me think of information security. Good guys and bad guys. Cat and mouse. OPSEC. Research. Malware.

The concept is fascinating.

You don’t just get better to thrive; you get better to survive because your opposition is getting better at the same time.

How many examples of this can you think of?

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