Securing the Digital World

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Complexity but Finite Resilience

Oct 12, 2020 | by Redvers Curry |
Security team reviewing monitors

The boundary between our physical lives and our digital lives is becoming more-and-more blurred to the point where we can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. In fact, it’s arguable that, short of a Zombie apocalypse or a similar catastrophe, the two will become inextricably connected. And why not? We all want the lives that science fiction has promised, and maybe one day we’ll have Jetsons-style jetpacks (some of us sooner than other if this report  from LAX is true) and the replicators in Star Trek (isn’t that what 3D printing is all about?). But with more ‘Smart’ homes, cars, refrigerators, and other devices hitting the market every day, we now have to adopt a new mantra: if you can connect it, you must protect it.

It seems that every day, Silicon Valley and the long tail of inventors in the rest of the world are taking seemingly disparate things and bringing them together. Beyond the re-usable rockets, the hyper loops, the neural interfaces, we are seeing everything being connected first with Operational Technology (OT) as well as the more ubiquitous and far-reaching Internets-of-Things (IoT): GSMA estimates that the number of global IoT connections will more than double to almost 25 billion by 2025. These devices have incredible potential to reshape our work, play, research, and the human. But there are downsides to all this, there are ghosts in the machines. There are actors who seek to take advantage, disrupt, steal or otherwise threaten the emerging connected world.

Anticipating these bad actors is necessary for IoT and OT devices to reach their potential. But security innovation for IoT and OT haven’t kept pace with the development and roll-out of new products. As a sector, we must increase the rate of security innovation to match and enable the emergence of this new technology. Technology companies, from the cloud to home automation, from manufacturing to healthcare, aren’t going to slow down (the recent pandemic has only accelerated automation). It’s up to us in the security industry to be there with them. That’s our new challenge.

 The next time you go shopping for a fridge and see that it can suggest recipes, tie into healthy living services, order you ingredients, send invites for parties, suggest the right mood music, work with your oven and find you the best deals, you should be able to trust that the security and the privacy has been built into the systems. There is nothing inherently good or evil about technology, and new ways will be found to use this information. A combination of innovation, regulation and perspiration in the security and privacy domain are what’s needed to make sure that we have an anti-fragile, resilient and better connected world and not a dystopian, shadowy, broken world that is as obsolete as last generation’s iSmell or as scary as a digitally-enabled totalitarian state.