Stone walls and steel ramparts are long-antiquated methods of defending an entity’s physical security. It takes only a walk by the White House to note the layers of security personnel, metal detectors and assorted weaponry on display. Yet security today requires more than material defenses, camera systems and barbed wire. Even the ‘fortress’ of the U.S. President is scalable, as recent fence-jumpers and drone operators have shown.
Today’s security responses are a litmus test for the future. Permeability characteristic of our modern era, brought on by interconnectivity, technological advancement and globalization, is bound to increase tenfold unless proactive and enhanced security processes are embraced by society and industry.
As threats and the nature of attack diversifies with increased interaction and transaction, security and attack prevention must keep pace. If asked about the need to create security protocol for ‘lone wolf’ gunmen, homegrown terrorists and domestic unmanned aerial vehicles just twenty years ago, security professionals might have labeled these processes low-priority. Yet in the past two decades, we’ve had mass slaughter at movie theaters, military bases, law firms, churches, spas and political rallies. We’ve had American citizens target Boston in the name of jihad and close calls between airliners and UAVs. It is uncontested that security focus and attention is needed unlike ever before. This is not a political issue, but a 21st century issue.
As our lives and everyday objects come online, security beyond the physical world becomes another challenge of the Internet era. Security breaches at OPM, Sony, Anthem and JP Morgan Chase prove that no industry is immune to the long-reaching tentacles of online hackers. Our data is now currency–gold mined from the depths of the Internet–used to cash-in our tax returns, run our credit scores to ground and engage in more malicious acts of fraud. One of the easiest ways to up your online protection, at home and at work, is by creating strong passwords. While “password” is easy to remember, it’s also easy to guess.
Cybersecurity is on the minds of everyone from CEOs to office secretaries. Yet the home space is one often overlooked in cyber conversations. While we may gratefully look on as our alarm clock starts our day and the coffeemaker, the Internet of Things (IoT) has serious security down sides. It is estimated that by 2020, over 26 billion devices will come online and as these sensors, systems and machines increase in number, so too do points of penetration.
Examples of these vulnerabilities are everywhere; from Australian scam artists using casino security cameras to win hands of poker, to hackers using Mattel toys to open garage doors. 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl, in a report on the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), found out first-hand the vulnerabilities of our computerized automobiles. As Stahl sits behind the steering wheel, viewers watch as she loses control over her windshield wipers, horn and brakes. A scary scenario and one that Dan Kauffman, head of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office, says illustrates the ‘achilles heel’ of IoT. To stay up-to-date on IoT and how Congress addresses these vulnerabilities, keep an eye on the recently created Congressional IoT Caucus–an initiative that will certainly grow over the coming years.
Attention to new age security needs, an emphasis on security processes and infrastructure and awareness of the risks associated with living in our interconnected era is a starting place for addressing our 21st century vulnerabilities. Intelligence and public cooperation may hold the key to ensuring physical security while proceeding-with-caution may be our best bet on the digital frontier. As professionals, citizens and individuals, our relationship with security–in its physical and digital forms–will continue to evolve. The ‘dam’ of connectivity will always have holes, big and small. How we adapt to fill them is the defining question of our day and age.