In 1964 as the then Cassius Clay beat the fearsome Sonny Liston, his eyes became bright and his voice pushed out a message that was compelling. “I shook up the world”, he cried, “I shook up the world”. From here he changed his name to Muhammad Ali and continued to change the world. He was a disruptor, loved by many, loathed by others, but there is no doubt about how he changed things.
In 2004 Muhammad Ali appeared in an IBM commercial, regarding Linux, encouraging those who adopted this ‘new’ open source operating system to go and do something great, go and disrupt, go and push technology forward for all humanities sake. This cry, this call to arms is never more relevant than today. We need some serious technology disruption in order to stem the increasing threat from cyber crime, but where is it going to come from?
At the latter end of 2015 The Crime Survey of England and Wales was published and one of its headline grabbing points was that cyber crime had overtaken physical crime in the UK. Cyber crime is now the ‘new normal’ and continues to grow. The Police forces, the law enforcement agencies, the industry are all doing their bit, but I fear that the battle is being slowly lost. Technology companies have never shied away from taking on big challenges and this may be the biggest challenge of all.
So how can this be done? I only wish I knew and I must point out that living and working here in the loosely labelled ‘cyber valley’ of Worcestershire, I see first hand the work of many cyber security firms up close and personal and they are doing a great job, as are the major technology firms, such as Cisco, IBM and others. However, we have all witnessed how companies like Uber, the ride sharing service, have come along used a new perspective and shaken up an industry. We need an Uber for cyber security.
We need a company who will look at the rising crime statistics as a market opportunity, an opportunity to make the world a safer place. We need them to look at all the technology and services that are available from geo location, to crowdsourcing, to cloud services, social networking, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and anything else they have in their cyber kit bag, blend them together, sprinkle it liberally with insight and then watch the ‘magic’ happen as their work protects millions, even those who didn’t realise they needed protection!
With Google throwing millions of dollars into breaking some of the world’s greatest challenges, with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos separately attempting to completely revolutionise access to space with their Space X and Blue Origin projects, we know that the skills are out there to take on such lofty challenges – but what is holding them back? Is cyber security actually too difficult a task? The more I have learned about it, it does seem to be continually evolving, changing almost daily and new threats appearing without warning. It was back in 1971 that Nixon famously coined the term, “The War On Drugs” and the collective efforts of many have, if truth be known, failed to prevent drugs getting onto the streets. With and estimated spend of $51 billion a year in the US on this war, what has been its effects? It’s certainly not wiped it out by a long stretch. Are we looking at another lengthy and costly battle against cyber crime that will never be won? Will this be the current generations ‘war on drugs’? I sincerely hope not.
Is cyber security just not glamorous enough in comparison to building autonomous cars, or reusable space craft to attract the level of attention it requires in order for eradication? Ask anybody who is working in the cyber security industry especially at the very sharp end of it and they will confirm that is glamorous and has more than a whiff of James Bond about it.
Or is it money? No. Money is in abundance for cyber security initiatives with many start ups securing many millions of dollars to push their technologies forward. It was reported that back in 2015 cyber security startups had broken the $1bn a quarter in funding.
So there is a genuine market need, there are the highly developed technical skills available and there is the money! So what’s holding back a cyber security company with an Uber mentality taking the world by storm? Maybe I’m just impatient having been so close to cyber security for a while and watching the crime rates rise.
The challenges to cyber security resolution are many and varied but I do believe that somewhere out there someone has the green shoots of an idea that is going to genuinely provide a resolution. Is that person you? If so then do like Muhammad Ali did and shake up the world. Your time has come. It’s time to disrupt those who are disrupting the world.