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.  ‘It’s not if it’s going to happen,’ said Jeff Lanza, a former FBI spokesman who now lectures on cybersecurity.  ‘It’s 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 don’t 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 aren’t 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.  Remember—we don’t 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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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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