For the past 40 to 50 years, the Internet has been an advantage to drive economic development, intelligence, human rights and democracy. Today, the Internet is threatened by cyber attacks and breaches. Given the inherent asymmetry, the Internet has the potential to become a liability.
Cyber security was once challenged only by wired desktops. Whereas today, the threat surface is broadening rapidly—for example, the Internet of Things. Between us and the rogue, we are losing as a result of our not defending ourselves. Michael McCaul, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator, confirmed that “the private and the public sectors might have the capabilities to react offensively, but their defensive capabilities are not good.”
Testament to the perspective of the White House is the breach of the Office of Personnel Management, where the rogue stole 20 million security clearances. In the private sector, we have the breach of payment systems at Target and Home Depot, and still top-of-mind are the attacks that crippled Microsoft and Sony.
If we consider the full range of loss, it is not yet as bad as it has the potential to be. For example, the power grid has not been pushed offline and the major companies that have been breached (and suffered financial loss) have not gone out of business.
If we do not deal with cyber security, then we will meet the point of inflection where the Internet becomes a liability and as a result, our way of life will be put at risk.
No matter the degree of convenience, now is the opportunity to put in place the right cyber security controls and protections.