Everything Hinges on Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity will make or break our future. As data becomes ubiquitous and omnipresent, there is a shadow looming over the access, storage, archiving and deletion of data. Data as an entity in and of itself will continue to increase exponentially as more devices and people become connected through technology.

Take any of the trends we’ve discussed in class so far – AI, ML, cloud computing, big data etc. They all have one underlying condition that must be met in order to be successful as mainstream technology. They all need to make sure that user data is captured, stored and deleted in a timely manner. Without specific frameworks and policies in place, and tight security and encryption protocols, businesses that utilise these technologies will lose their customer’s trust very quickly and fail to be successful.

Every other day, we hear about another company that has been hacked or has had a data breach of some kind. Until and unless security is prioritised by businesses (and not just their IT departments), we won’t be able to see the dissemination of such futuristic technologies in to the mainstream.

Let’s take Amazon’s Echo/Alexa as an example – the personal digital assistant can be quite useful at times, and as such is still in a “novelty” phase. However, many still find it “creepy” how Alexa constantly listens to you and everything going on in your household – until a trigger word is spoken, at which point it starts recording the interaction. There is an implied level of trust customers place in Amazon to not record everything, and to not share this data with anyone.

However, trust alone won’t cut it. In order for technologies like the Internet of Things to really take off, we must first ensure that we have a concrete pre-defined approach to cybersecurity. What this essentially means is we need complete transparency of how your data is captured, where it’s stored, who has access to it, and when it will be permanently deleted – and not in the form of a 30 page privacy policy that nobody will read. Businesses need to find a better way to communicate their policies to every day customers.

Quoting from an article I read – “Digital innovation should be a catalyst for boards to have conversations about restructuring businesses with cybersecurity at their heart.” If a business truly does prioritise cybersecurity, and finds an effective way to communicate their policies to customers, they can get a sizeable competitive advantage in the market.

Government agencies also need to do a much better job with prioritising cybersecurity. Governments hold enormous amounts of granular data about their citizens – from healthcare to voting to taxes. As the global landscape evolves, data will continue to be the key differentiator between nations. Akin to the global space race a few decades ago, the world is now competing in the data race. The more data you have, the more you’re able to manipulate global sentiment and power structures to work in your favour (I won’t get into the 2016 election debacle – but you get the point)

Unless business, government agencies and anyone else who captures or handles data prioritise cybersecurity, we won’t see the mainstream use of connected technology and devices. We need to fix our approach to security now, so that we have the freedom to explore and use more sophisticated technologies later on.

Sources Used:

  1. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/digital-security/cybersecurity-make-or-break-business/
  2. https://www.reddit.com/r/amazonecho/comments/5od6mr/confirming_that_alexa_is_always_listening/
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-cybersecurity-202/2018/07/26/the-cybersecurity-202-agencies-struggling-with-basic-cybersecurity-despite-trump-s-pledge-to-prioritize-it/5b58a84e1b326b1e64695548/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.48e1757ecd06
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurencebradford/2018/03/30/why-people-should-learn-about-cybersecurity-in-2018/#5b94f1895d00

One comment on “Everything Hinges on Cybersecurity”

  1. I concretely agree that cyber security is the future of everything. With the number of attacks rising each year coupled with the increasing amount of mobile devices available to consumers each day, cyber security will play a crucial role in determining individual privacy and protection. Further, though the number of cyber security attacks are increasing, it’s also the severity of those attacks that continue to deepen.

    As Steve Herrod mentioned in lecture last week, any wise company, whether in business, tech, or anything else, will start to take cyber security more seriously in the coming years. It will undoubtedly be a topic worth investing in for the future and success of any business. But cyber security isn’t just a concern for businesses; it affects everyone. Computers, tablets, cellphones, and smart watches, to name a few, contain information that hackers want. And in the hyper connected world we live in, we all need to be acutely aware of the impact cyber security will have on our lives.


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