Perfect Timing

Will we one day look back and be pleased that cyber security appeared when it did?

Have you ever been told that “Everything happens for a reason”? I know have, many times. Usually involving some challenging aspect of my life that has cropped up without warning and now requires a huge amount of effort to resolve.

The theory is that for whatever reason these things were ’meant’ to happen in order to allow future events to unfurl with ease.

Don’t’ worry, I’m not going to get all new age on you here, but having pondered on all aspects of the cyber security world for a considerable time now I have concluded that it’s timing is perfect and in years to come businesses and consumers alike will look back on this period of time when, as the RSA Conference called it last week, ‘Peak Cyber’ occurred.

Just to backtrack slightly, have you ever pondered why the bubble of cyber security has occurred? What caused it? Why has it gone from a slightly niche subject in computer science, to front page news in a handful of years. Well despite talking to many, many cyber security experts, specialists, consultants and trainers they’ve not been able to say exactly ‘why’. So, I’ll take my own stab at it.

The internet, as we know it, has been in our lives for the better part of 20 years. From 14.4k dial up modems through to today’s high speed fibre broadband the globe has slowly, but surely getting increasingly connected. As it has matured more aspects of life have become digitised. This digital data holds within it a value. It can be a monetary value, or information value and where there is value, there will be crime. Please feel free to correct me on this, but it seems almost logical in its evolution.

Just on the internet’s technical horizon for many is the much-lauded Internet of Things (IoT) the utopia of connection which will see just about any electronic device in our lives starting to communicate with a bevy of online services. That means that today’s cyber-crime world has occurred with just the first wave of devices connected – computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets etc… Ok, you may have hooked up your games console or your smart TV as well, but that’s about it. A few of your more leading edge friends and colleagues may have taken a step further with some CCTV cameras, or a thermostat, but it’s not fully mainstream yet – but it’s coming.

In fact, Gartner, the information technology research and advisory company, predict that in 2017 there will be 8.3billion IoT devices connected to the internet. That’s an increase of 31% from 2016. Their projections estimate that by 2020 there will be more that 20 billion such devices, with most those – 12 billion – catagorised as consumer devices.

The first slew of these devices has been getting bad press for their poor security, but things are improving, as is the public’s awareness of cyber security. Throw into this mix the rapidly approaching GDPR legislation, that is laser focusing the minds and technical efforts of all manner of vendors to ensure they do not suffer data breaches in the future, means that we have all the necessary pieces (almost) in place for a far more secure future.

I’m not saying there are not problems, challenges and a need for continued vigilance and best practise, just that cyber security does seem to have had perfect timing on its arrival, just before the next wave of connected devices takes hold. At the recent IoT Expo there was a far greater focus on cyber security compared to 2016 and I do believe that security is going to be a key selling point and a commercial differentiator for all these IoT vendors as their next generation products, the ones that will start to be more widely adopted, come to market.

So, thank you cyber security for appearing when you did, you may be causing us pain and upheaval now, but come 2020 when billions more devices are online we will all hopefully look back to this current time and the few years that preceded it and say that “I’m glad that cyber thing happened a few years ago else we could be in a right mess today.”

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