Dave Helling had an excellent article in the Kansas City Star reviewing the growing challenges for cybersecurity. Hackers, malware, and fraudulent Web sites are increasingly opening the door for major Internet attacks. Potentially, this could disrupt anything from our power grid to online commerce to private medical records to mass-transit control to nuclear power plants. Helling describes the challenges and the resistance:
The time is past, analysts say, for thinking of the dangers as so much science fiction. Its not if its going to happen, said Jeff Lanza, a former FBI spokesman who now lectures on cybersecurity. Its when. But an unlikely coalition of business and civil libertarians has pushed back, arguing potential government-ordered fixes would complicate computer use, stifle innovation, and cost consumers millions.
Helling identifies a debate that must happen and will be much more complicated than many people think. I dont want my Internet functionality to be hampered any more than it already is (which thankfully is very little). Nevertheless, depending on the kind of controls and systemic fixes the government institutes, our online experience could become rather encumbered and expensive.
On the other hand, the pursuit of excellent cybersecurity cannot be neglected. The bad guys and girls arent slowing down production one bit (or byte?). Without staying at least one step ahead of them, we could all wake up to a dead Internet one day. That would be disastrous.
I am hopeful the powers that be can find ways to maintain the aggressive pursuit of excellent cybersecurity while constantly assessing law-abiding user impact. This will demand a balanced approach that astutely measures the status of the war in real time. Simultaneously, as major advances and strategies are prepared, we need to ensure a strong public relations campaign. If the public feels they are being kept out of the loop on these cybersecurity evolutions, it will not be pretty. If that happens, all the public relations in the world is too little too late.
Finally, I have been very impressed with our technological development speed and creativity. Rememberwe dont yet know what new approaches, protocols, and methodologies our ongoing research and development may generate. Alas, I realize the bad guys and girls are working just as hard too, yet somehow I remain an optimist.
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