You may have heard the recent craze of cyber security as a growing field. In this modern, online world, more and more companies are beginning to value the importance of keeping their data, hardware, software, and customers protected. There is simply too much at risk for organizations to ignore the issue of cyber security. And, what better way to celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness Month than with a post about cyber security!
In this post, I will introduce the topic of cyber security in relation to real world implications. Subsequent posts relating to cyber security will discuss the more technical aspects such as password security, ethical hacking, network security, and much more.
Throughout the rest of this post, you will probably see a recurring, underlying message: Cyber security affects our entire world. This is especially true for businesses, as almost all businesses must maintain an online or digital presence. Try to imagine a multi-billion dollar business in today’s world where security is taken for granted or ignored. Imagine if all business transactions were done over unsecure, unencrypted connections. Imagine if a business didn’t have internal firewalls or security measures to protect their intellectual property and future business ventures. Imagine if the company itself could be taken off the market for violating consumer protection laws.
Business owners can think of the idea of cyber security as the tip of the iceberg. Everybody knows that data should be protected and unaltered, but the much larger issue underneath is every single facet of business that must be protected. For a business, cyber security should be a thorough, prevalent, and cultural topic for their employees. Unfortunately, sometimes the most vulnerable areas where businesses can be exploited are their employees. In the case of the iceberg analogy, an unsuspecting employee who clicks a spearphishing email could potentially be the downfall of the Titanic—Titanic being the business itself.
A critical part of national security and foreign policy for many countries involves a comprehensive cyber security program. In our highly technical world, it is no surprise that most, if not all, of our weapons systems utilize a computer system in some sorts. Whether it’s the microchips powering a fighter jet, the satellites guiding global positioning systems and targeting algorithms, or the electrical motors keeping ships afloat, a modern defense force consists of computers and networks in all aspects. The future of warfare, if one keeps their ingenuity abound in times of crisis, can be quite different than the old, conventional wars of the past. Why should a nation risk the lives of many soldiers on a highly dangerous mission if there is the possibility of achieving an objective with only cyber offensive means?
Governments rely on having the most accurate intelligence to aid their decision-making. In this manner, cyber security plays two roles similarly to its role in the military—offensive and defensive. While espionage is conducted against another nation to gain vital intelligence, cyber security must also be maintained in one’s nation’s own networks and computers. What if a foreign adversary were to be able to infiltrate a vital government service such as a social welfare program or a public infrastructure service? They would potentially ruin or devastate the lives of millions of people. And, on that same note, what if systems used to gain knowledge on a nation’s enemies were compromised unknowingly? This could be extremely bad, because the infiltrator could leave in false-positives or misleading data. Essentially, cyber security isn’t just a "good-to-have" for a nation—it’s a necessity.
Why should a nation risk the lives of many soldiers on a highly dangerous mission if there is the possibility of achieving an objective with only cyber offensive means?
Finally, cyber security is important to everybody on a personal level. Naming just a few things, here are some examples of areas in your personal life that depend on good cyber security practices:
- Financial Life (banking, credit cards, mortgages, etc.)
- Identity (licenses, phones, credit)
- Technology (laptops, phones, computers, networks)
- Work Life (job, employment, income)
- Personal Life (social networking)
To put it simply, personal cyber security habits and practices should always be used. Without good online safety, account management, and security knowledge, your entire life could be ruined. A hacker could destroy your social media circles, steal your online identity, or destroy your financial well-being. Everything that you could know could be turned upside down in a matter of minutes. To some, this is impossible to comprehend until they see it in-person. Unfortunately, there are countless number of people who have experienced this kind of disaster. In future posts, I will discuss some concepts and practices that you can follow to stay safe in today’s digital world.
For all the above topics, cyber security as a career and practice is here to stay forever. Nations, companies, and people simply cannot ignore the problem because there is so much at risk. Unfortunately, practicing unsafe security habits is all too common these days and people will always think, "it can never happen to me." There are plenty of different types of arguments that follow this same notion, and the best answer one can give is, "why take the risk?" As the famous saying goes, and it is especially true for modern society, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.