March 27, 2015 BY futurefirewall
I have been focused on computer security, communications security, and data security since…well…since forever, it seems like. I was beating the drum about cyber threats at least 3 years before 9/11 and I personally take extensive precautions with my data and with my communications…just because it seems prudent.
I have been called paranoid. I often hear: “I’m not doing anything wrong, so I am not worried.” I’ve been told repeatedly that “we need this data in order to improve your experience.” And all the while, the amount of data collected grows, and grows, and grows…to the extent that privacy in this society is now a myth, and security is vanishing. As I look at my writings from the late ’90s (mostly on the Motley Fool), I find that I was quite naive. I recognized the threat, but only partially; it has grown to levels I only feared in my worst imaginings, and it is far from as bad as it will become.
My response to people has always been: “what happens if this data gets into the wrong hands? What happens if people who would abuse it get control of it? How do you control your own narrative (being defined as how you present yourself to the world) when all this data is out there and accessible to anyone?”
And now, increasingly, we see what happens when the data gets into the wrong hands. Blackmail. Identity theft. Reputations ruined. Individuals humiliated. Careers destroyed. Bank accounts robbed. Intellectual property strewn across the world. The cost is enormous…and this is just the tip of the iceberg; it will get much MUCH worse before it gets better, if it ever gets better.
And, it is increasingly difficult to even control the problem. There are many, many horns to this dilemma, and they multiply daily.
Not the least of these problems is the lack of commitment to security that we see among so many major corporations (Anthem or Target, anyone???). But it is not totally their fault; the rate of growth of the threats, and their sheer technical complexity, make it almost impossible for anyone to keep up. And it only takes one mistake to open up your systems, regardless of how careful or committed you are.
When you combine these realities with the fact that there are simply not enough people in the world who specialize in cyber-security and are therefore available to help these corporations secure their systems – never mind helping the small business that needs the computer capability and has no idea how to secure them and could not afford to hire the experts anyway – what you see is that the situation cannot help but spiral totally out of control.
This is why I am pleased to be working with Simplewan. Simplewan is addressing one of the major roots of the problem – the hoovering of the data – in what is perhaps the only possible way; by monitoring business traffic and identifying anomalous patterns or patterns matching known bad actors, then proactively cutting off those channels. This will not solve the problems, but this WILL greatly mitigate one of the major routes that makes the problem so dangerous; systems protected by Simplewan will not be nearly as vulnerable and therefore the data will stay where it is supposed to stay.
It may be that I am standing guard over a corpse, that corpse being the corpse of individual privacy and security. But I continue to stand guard, and working with Simplewan provides me with an important weapon with which to stand guard.
As time passes, I will have a lot more to say about safeguarding your privacy. Some of what I say will be relevant to Simplewan; most won’t be. Stay tuned.