The players may have changed, but the team remains. No longer are the USA and Russia rattling their nuclear sabers at one another over the long since opened iron curtain, now it’s all about cyber security. However, the two superpowers are working not against each other, despite current tensions, but collaboratively in order to prevent the countries from mistakenly getting into a cyber war. CNN explained that these meetings, held in Geneva, included officials from the White House, State Department and FBI and will include a review of cybersecurity agreements signed in 2013 by the two countries.
There is no doubt that there has been an icy relationship between these two old adversarial friends in recent times but Russian officials quoted in the story suggest that these meetings will represent a return to normal. This ‘normality’ will include confidence-building measures through the establishment of a cyber hotline to allow USA and Russian officials to talk to each other during a cybersecurity crisis. The fear is that a cyber-attack appearing to come from the other’s territory could mistakenly lead to a real confrontation between the two countries – and nobody wants that to happen!
The cold war, whose main players were the USA and Russia, generated a great deal of fear in the general populous. That same style of fear now surrounds the specter of cybercrime, leading Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to state that he thinks cybercrime was the greatest threat the world currently faced. During an interview in Australia, the tech genius, stated that, “We used to fear the atomic bomb when I was young, and you used to come home from school and sirens would go off for a test on every corner. Now we fear all the cyber-attacks and hacking. What’s the next one we’re going to hear about? Is one going to come close to me? Is it going to hit me? Could they really take out our electrical system, take out our internet, how far can it go? And it’s getting worse and worse year by year, not better and better.”
Strong sentiment indeed and one that I personally agree with, the challenge is that when the cold war was ongoing there were protests outside of airbases that housed the instruments of armageddon. Military might and its opposing countermeasures were publicly displayed in order to prevent attacks. In the cyber world this simply cannot happen, there are no physical items that can paraded, there are no locations that can be protested at, this is a threat that eyes simply cannot see.
The Business Insider website this week posted a piece about how other major players are being affected by cybersecurity. These were not global political players, or technology luminaries, but players of a different kind – football players. According to the website, Premier League football clubs are increasingly employing cybersecurity firms to scour the social media accounts of players they are looking to sign. They are looking to de-risk any future signings by using these cybersecurity firms to scour for evidence of “bigotry, hate speech, and other illegal offensive behaviour” Everybody knows in this day and age that we all have a digital footprint, created by our online activity. Potential employers, educational establishments, even person relationships can involve a rudimentary Google search to uncover anything that may, or may not be of concern. This is just a background check for in the modern world. How long will it be before other companies crop up in order to cleanse your digital footprint of anything that may inhibit your personal or professional development? I bet they already exist.
Cybercrime everywhere is classified as a ‘Tier 1 Strategic Threat’, sitting alongside terrorism, international military crises and major natural disasters yet many companies will convince themselves they have nothing of value to hackers. This is according to the New Statesman magazine, who discussed the continuing board room apathy towards all matters cyber this week.
No matter what size of company you are, no matter what data you have, it is of value to someone. No business is too small to be of interest to cyber criminals. How long will it take to get that message across? The USA, Russia, Steve Wozniak and The Premier League all understand the threats from cybercrime, but so many still don’t.
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