Schneier, whos founder and chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security Inc., a security services provider, is the author of several books, the last two of which—"Beyond Fear" and "Secrets and Lies"—attempted to put security in perspective for the masses.
Tuesday at the RSA Conference here, Schneier took part in a cryptographer panel earlier in the day, but his own popularity was in evidence as he later filled a large theater at the Metreon to, as he said, discuss whats new in security since the publication of "Beyond Fear" last fall.
He saved some of his most interesting comments for last, when he took a question from the audience on his reaction to Microsoft Corp. CEO Bill Gates keynote earlier in the day.
"Was it just me or was he just not excited? I expected more excitement," Schneier said. "When he talks about features and cool things [in his products], he gets animated. But until he gets animated about security you know hes not going to solve the problem."
Gates received a friendly reception earlier in the day, despite the fact that Microsoft products are a constant target of viruses and worms. Schneiers audience clearly shared his feelings about the Microsoft executives remarks.
"Security is not as exciting as the next cool thing in Windows," Schneier said. "[Gates] had an opportunity to wow us [earlier]. I wanted to be wowed. I didnt want to hear about cool dialog boxes.
"Its a big boat to turn around," Schneier said about Microsofts security initiatives, such as Trustworthy Computing. "Give him some quarter for that, but hes had some time to turn about the boat. Security should be his bottom line. Then hell care."