Protecting Democracy

Well-functioning governments and authorities know that threats can arise from both domestic and international sources.  As a result, the government develops strategies that not only identify these threats but minimize consequences for the public.  Most Americans are under the false impression that the U.S. Government has an effective cyber strategy for everyone including small businesses and individuals.  However, in the current programming holistic approaches to cyber resilience and effective protections do not exist.

It is a fact that on numerous occasions they have failed to protect its institutions from cybercriminals.  Hackers have managed to penetrate top secret facilities and have stolen sensitive information. In addition to this, cybercriminals have even managed to disrupt the most sacred pillar of the democratic system, the U.S. elections.  The 2016 U.S. elections were shrouded in controversy. These hacks created a narrative to carry forward and promotes doubt in our systems. There were both social media manipulation and attacks on local election systems. This is the definition of  hacking “effective.”

The Facts About Cyber Manipulation

Many reports and investigations have concluded that the ballot system along with presidential campaigns were hacked by Russian criminals to turn the tide in Donald Trump’s favor.  It is true, the U.S. Department of Justice has charged twelve Russian intelligence officers in this case despite the Kremlin’s denial of the Russian Government’s involvement. But, the successful attack on the electoral process proved that voter rights and their freedom of speech could be exploited easily.  

More importantly, not only computer systems were exploited, but also the feelings of potential voters.  Meaning, adversaries successfully moved digital manipulation into a manifestation of human agents who will promote distrust in the very systems that makes them “free.”

This means the equivalent of “killer genes” can also be planted through cyber exploits causing people to undermine their own lives.  And even after all of the facts and chatter since the elections, citizens are still oblivious to the true intentions of these cyber-attacks.  In fact, none of us may ever know whether these Russian agents were trying to alter the political outcome or were targeting the essence of American identity; trust in governmental systems.  

No security agency or authority can claim to know if these cybercrimes, and countless others, were conducted for disrupting systems, stealing data for blackmailing purposes, or even worse altering information.  The consequences however have contributed to a compromise and defaming of typical American values.

Education Is Key

Creating a culture of cybersecurity across multiple communities in an urban area unites all economic groups towards one security vision.  With these strategies, city government creates an incubator for the smart growth of new talent and less loss from cyber exploits.

A belief that technology alone will solve social ills and fill service gaps is simply foolish.  Our focus on technology solving human problems is why we live in constant cyber fear now. The cybersecurity challenge has three pillars.  They are a lack of awareness, a lack of training and a shortage of cybersecurity professionals. The most resilient communities will be those that work in a coordinated fashion to build a cyber skills capability.  This is how you raise the “cyber IQ” to educate the residents and reduce cyber victimization in parallel.

There’s no doubting that elections serve as a form of reassurance for the judicial system, the integrity or conduct of Government publications, and our basic identities. As a result, if international hackers and cyber terrorists manage somehow to cast suspicion on these pillars of society, then we will inevitably lose an element of our democratic system.

In order to avoid these unfortunate set of circumstances, the government must take effective measures against cybercrime through extensive education campaigns.  But wait, this will not happen because one set of political players benefitted from the intrusion. And this, my friends, defines the complexity of the government being trusted to protect your cyber life.  

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