Improving Cybersecurity- Security researcher Troy Hunt recently discovered one of the largest online troves of leaked personal information in history — a collection of nearly 773 million hacked e-mails and passwords.
Hunt’s discovery stresses a point that’s been evident for some time: Once information is digitized, no one can fully guarantee its safety.
So how do we fix our cybersecurity troubles? In two words: Slow down. Put simply, the time has come to more purposefully control what it is we digitize. This means slowing down the pace of adoption of networked technology with new laws and standards aimed at increasing the quality and reliability of any device with an IP address. And it means carefully preserving analog capabilities, even as we embrace the digital.
Evidence of our inability to fully secure digital systems is all around. In November, for example, 52 million users at Google were compromised in a data breach. Two months earlier, 50 million user accounts were compromised at Facebook. These two events bookended an October Government Accountability Office report, which asserted that nearly early every single U.S. military weapons system suffers from a cybersecurity flaw. If organizations as advanced as Google, Facebook and the U.S. military can’t keep their systems safe, no one can.
As it stands, once something has been turned into computer code — by cameras, recording devices, keyboards, or sensors — nothing can be done to “certify” its status as secure. That information may be viewed or corrupted by unauthorized entities or used in ways that violate the privacy or trust of the individuals who generated the data.
We call the current, woeful state of our collective cybersecurity “flat light,” a term from the world of aviation. Among pilots, flat light signifies a near total lack of bearing where all directions look the same — a condition that now applies to organizations, regulators, and consumers alike within the digital world. Collectively, we simply do not know what to focus on, what precise action is called for, or how to protect all the data we generate, both as individuals and as companies.
The root of our cybersecurity problems is the unprecedented rate at which we’ve embraced networked devices. Buying a lightbulb? It may now be connected to the internet. A refrigerator? The same. A toilet? Soon enough. In some places, we can’t even make purchases without using network-connected credit cards or services like Apple Pay.