Can’t Live Without It

Without a doubt, the internet makes everyday life easier and more convenient for people while also creating economic opportunities for anyone to launch a business that might one day make them a billionaire.  But, while advancement in technology has enabled sci-fi like capabilities allowing us to solve global medical issues, organize scientists towards cures for Cancer and even entertain us endlessly, it has left us vulnerable to cyber-attacks.  Just as millions of organizations use the internet for improving the whole world, a great number of organizations use it for their self-interest. Some of which may be criminal.

For all the advances the internet has allowed, there are organizations and individuals who are setback daily by attacks on their identities, systems and networks.  This creates a constant battle between multiple groups vying to find advantage. Some of the players, good and bad, have aims that are not clear. Others protect system and chase bad actors to identify and limit their ability to hurt us.  While, many other players have no greater ambition than financial gain.

Internet Is the Great Frontier

The activities of all embattled participants make the internet the next great frontier.  It was not designed to be secure and until there is a “sheriff” in place, many of the users will continue defending themselves.  It is not exactly like a Game of Thrones because the victors don’t necessarily want to be known. The cloak of the internet is the opportunity to continue reaping profit and causing disruption without challenge.  This anonymity allows a hacker to collect from criminal enterprise for the rest of their lives and beyond.

It is important that internet users have some understanding of how it works.  Experts use a lot of tech jargon to essentially describe the different systems performing various tasks making the internet colorful and user friendly. To understand what is going on in cyberspace and how you fit into the equation, it is important to understand the players and the motivations of the criminals.  You best believe that terrorists, nation states criminals, hacktivist and extortionists find the same value in this unsecured system we now find ourselves not able to live without.

New connections of devices, networks appliances and controllers for distributed systems are made to the internet by simply providing the endpoint an IP address.  This is the easiest way to describe a system of systems allowing us to insert a registered web name and reaching a website in one click. This usability assures the internet is not secure.  Even the name domain name system (DNS) is under attack.

Hackers have taken advantage of vulnerabilities in the DNS.  This is the mechanism for routing you to the correct address when you input a web address in your browser.  A lot of organizations with websites don’t understand the threat to DNS and therefore don’t protect it. In the same regard, most people don’t see the inner workings of the internet and don’t think security when sitting at their computer.  We all just expect the internet to be available to meet our specific needs.

User Security Education

Hackers banking on this nativity and the continued flaw in systems providing them anonymity.  The uninformed users are like the sheep who walk towards the slaughter blade or a child accepting candy from a stranger and following that stranger to a car  for more.

User education and a sense of danger would move the needle towards more secure environments.  However, a lack of legal responsibility on the provider and laxed punishment imposed on service providers who are negligent allows your data to be stolen.  The ease of committing cybercrime invites more of the same. The hacker community has found advantages in educating and working together. This collaboration is also the formula for network defenders to stop them.

Culture of Cybersecurity

We will have to create a  culture of cybersecurity in the near future to withstand the ever-expanding threat environment.  A culture of cybersecurity is a description of an active learning environment where good cyber hygiene is practiced and expected.  It doesn’t just happen. Training must begin at a young age in schools or at the point an employee first comes onboard. In this world, opportunities to mitigate cyber risks are identified and acted on with a “whole of community” approach.  

The result is a familiarity with cybersecurity opportunities, reduced fear of employment entry and a push towards cyber entrepreneurship.  Most importantly, this culture is underpinned by continuous risk management approach to our lives. Unfortunately, it is a society we can only dream about in current times.  However, it is worth working towards this goal. We only have everything to gain.