Cybersecurity: Advantages and Disadvantages

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2nd Oct 2017 Information Technology Reference this

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Cybersecurity: Friend or Foe?

From 2005 to 2020, the digital universe will grow by a factor of 300, from 130 exabytes to 40,000 exabytes, or 40 trillion gigabytes.[1]The Internet is growing at an outrageous rate, and with it so must security. Cyber Security is “measures taken to protect a computer or computer system (as on the Internet) against unauthorized access or attack”(Webster). This word was first used around the year 1994. While the internet and cyber security are symbiotic, what happens if one grows faster than another? Will that set fire to the internet and topple it, or make it stronger? In recent years, cybersecurity has become a hot topic in many countries. In the U.S., cyber security is now a major issue and one that many people do not comprehend. Actually cyber security helps our everyday lives and keeps us safe from cyber attacks. These cyber attacks could steal important information like credit card numbers or addresses even age and any other information stored on a site with no cyber security measures. The US government and the private sector are utilizing numerous strategies to keep up with the rapid pace of increasingly sophisticated cyber security threats. However, U.S. citizens are beginning to question if the government’s and private sector’s attempts to effectively combat cyber security is now undermining civil liberties and exceeding limits of government secrecy. In the past, present and future, cyber security has been both an ally and enemy of the U.S. government and U.S. citizens.

First we begin by rewinding to the past to see how Cyber Security has changed the Internet. The Internet originated in 1962, hatched from the brain of Paul Baran of RAND, who developed the idea of distributed, packet-switching networks. This was the first idea of its kind and would revolutionise the world in years to come. With the help of Paul Baran and DARPA an agency of the United States Department of Defense; In 1969 the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network aka (ARPANET) goes online and is the worlds first fully operational distributing, packet switching-network. Shortly after the rise of ARPANET, Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf both noticed the usefulness of the internet and began to draw out and develop the basic ideas of the Internet. Finally In 1974, the company BBN launched the first public packet-switched network called Telenet (X. Cringely). The civilian Internet was born in the mid-1990’s as an off shoot of ARPANet’s military network. The Internet is bringing a revolution across with it bringing global supply of endless vital information that brings new reformed conventions and destroys old world definitions. Much time goes by and we finally see the full rise of the World Wide Web. In 1992 the number of hosts, which means computers or servers supplying information, breaks 1,000,000. By its third year the World Wide Web has a growth rate of 341,634% in service traffic. And the Internet was baptized in 1996 by holding the “first World Exposition” ever shown on the Web. It has now become so embedded in our everyday lives that it has radically altered the way individuals and societies interact (Kaufman). From this point on we see the birth of a new force that will bloom into a beautiful flower in later generations, yet the question remains whether this flower be a sweet smelling rose or poisonous Lilie.

With the advent of the Internet came the need to protect information from being taken; this came in the form of Cyber Security. In the beginning Cyber Security did not matter a great deal because there was no real confidential data being handled on the web. It was still a relatively new concept. Thus there was not much security other than the CIA or NSA would occasionally use the web to track down criminals individually by surveillance (McCracken). When the Internet began to intertwine with our daily lives, cyber security problems began to occur. Large amounts of confidential information began to be stored on the Internet, and hackers began to penetrate through simple defenses to steal this critical information. In response, the NSA and CIA implemented multiple layers of Cyber Security to their servers. Following numerous cyber attacks, private sector companies also began to tackle this issue by hiring Information Technology experts capable of protecting their information from hackers. As companies everywhere were in need of Cyber Security to keep others’ vital information safe, they began their search for people with the skill set they needed. This new type of job pays a lot because of the high demand for this technical knowledge (Lawrence). At this point cyber security basically is only showing its friendly face. The industry was adequately protecting critical information without encroaching on people’s privacy.

Lastly, the need to protect information became a global issue with countries committing warfare via digital frontiers and borders rather than physical ones. Cyber Security began to create divisions among countries such as China, Russia, U.S as these three countries became leaders in hacking, stealing information and digital espionage. A great example of this is in 2001 of the FB “hack which raised concern all over the world of for security reasons. This hack happened when the FBI went on a sting operation to retrieve small part of information without being noticed from two Russian intelligence based computers. However layers are afraid that this act may bounce back to them as they have committed a cross-border hack many people believe that they have done this with poor judgement (Lemos). They obtained this information from these servers without the assistance of Russia. This could mean that the U.S. can widen its borders on where it can search and capture criminals. However this also bring the law up of Whatever we do to them, they can do to us,” said Yarbrough, a former Department of Justice cyber crime prosecutor”(Lemos). Clearly this inter-country cybersecurity warfare marked the beginning of the negative results of cyber security and paved the way for increasingly complex issues in the present.

Now we currently face a critical situation in which Cyber Security is becoming more of a foe than an ally. It has gotten out of control and is now forcing citizens to question whether the government and private sector are respecting their very civil liberties. With the advent of the cloud both the government and private sector store huge amounts of information outside of their physical offices, making it even more risky for cyber attacks. The enemies are able to attack just as easily from within the organization as from without. A well known example of internal hacking was Wikileaks, in which a U.S. soldier J. Kirk Wiebe downloaded confidential embassy communications from around the world and shared them with the press. Another U.S. government leak was perpetrated by Edward Snowden a famous whistleblower from within the NSA. He downloaded thousands of classified files, attacking from within the NSA , to show the world what he considered to be an overreaching of the U.S. government in citizens and other countries privacy (Riley). While the government and the private sector may be winning the battle of effectively keeping citizens and their data safe, they are sacrificing civil liberties and privacy that has been the hallmark of our country since its founding over two hundred years ago.

Now Cyber Security threats are not only pertinent to government based servers but as to the private sector as well. Companies such as Target and Sony have been widely affected by these attacks. Target recently lost large amounts of market share due to the cyber security attack they suffered in which numerous amounts of confidential customer information was stolen. People are shying away from Target due to the general fear of having their information stolen. Sony has been attacked numerous times but has now learned from the past and is creating new security and encryption platforms to ensure customers it is safe. Every time a company is attacked, a beneficial outcome rises from the overall flaws that are exposed, allowing organizations to improve their Cyber Security. An example of this is a recent bug called Heartbleed. HeartBleed is a bug that breaks through OpenSSL to find passwords and other confidential information. It attacked what were previously considered impenetrable platforms including Yahoo, Instagram, and even Google. Weeks later all breaches were sealed and lessons were learned.

Currently, the competition from both the government and private sector for the same scarce Cybersecurity professionals is resulting in a war for resources and talent, making it even more difficult for the friendlier side of cyber security to prevail. Now the government targets these cyberwarriors when they are still students and lures them in before they can go to a private company. How? They begin to pay scholarships, tuition, books, and a salary. “Unlike many government programs, Cyber Corps has seen its budget triple to $45 million a year in the past three fiscal years,” says Victor Piotrowski, lead program director for Cyber Corps at the National Science Foundation” . “Almost four in 10 IT security positions went unfilled in 2013, according to a survey of more than 500 organizations by the Ponemon Institute, which studies privacy, data protection, and information-security policy” (Lawrence). Frequently, government employees are lured away by substantially higher salaries in the private sector. An increasingly important challenge for the government in retaining skilled cyber warriors is that many employees choose to leave government employment because because they say they do not want to spy on U.S citizens behind their backs (Lawrence). With these many challenges, cyber security currently appears to represent more of a foe than an ally. [1]

New challenges will surface in the future in cyber security. Just as less than 70 years ago, the world had no idea that internet was about to revolution the way we look at the world and interact, it is difficult to speculate on the direction of cyber security. However it is possible to hypothesize on the near future and what is to come. Cyber security has already begun to be a problem for mobile telephony, and it is likely to increase exponentially. Mobile phones are an enticing target as they display important information such as location, credit card accounts, secret work files and photos. More and more hackers are begging to target this growing platform. Between April and December 2012, the types of threats detected on the Google Android platform increased by more than 30 times from 11,000 to 350,000, and are expected to reach one million in 2003. (Center for European Policy Studies, CEPS)*insert end connecting some what to thesis and future*[2]

What began as small cyber battles between countries has now given rise to a full scale “Digital World War”. Now a days we see countries aggressively hack each other. The U.S. is deeply worried about China, as it has attacked its intelligence agencies multiple times. The U.S. government has prohibited “Chinese hardware in US institutions such as NASA, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce, unless a thorough assessment of “cyber-espionage or sabotage” (CEPS) risk by specialised federal officials has been carried out.” Furthermore, the U.S. government recently accused 5 high ranking chinese officials of cyber espionage. This unprecedented accusation has led to increased tension between the two governments with both accusing each other of espionage.

Is this the end of the internet and where will we go from here? The Internet just keeps expanding and expanding and so does cyber security and its accompanying abuse of privacy and civil liberties. The NSA could eventually cause the downfall of the internet because they have fatally altered the perfect balance of self-expression, internet cyber security, and governance. In a recent speech that Snowden gave with techies, he stated that “ the NSA is setting fire to the internet, and that you are the firemen” (McCracken). An additional issue that is just as important to the future of the internet and cyber security is the recent FCC decision regarding “fastlane”, which allows internet service providers to charge a premium for faster service for websites. A likely scenario is that large corporations with large budgets will have greater access to sharing files than small corporations or nonprofits. Some experts fear that this intrusion on free and equal access to sharing information over the internet sets a dangerous precedent that could allow organizations a great power in manipulating what information is available to world wide web users. This U.S. government policy could be the greatest enemy to the civilian internet and civil liberties than any cyber security initiative.

While the internet and cyber security have existed for a relatively short period of time in human history, it has radically changed the way governments, corporations and individuals interact. In its inception, cyber security played a friendly role in protecting the limited information available on the world wide web. Currently, a darker side of cyber security, developed in the name of protecting U.S. citizens, has radically changed the U.S. government’s approach to cyber protection. U.S. citizens and other governments have been shocked to learn that their phone calls and their data is all open to scrutiny by the U.S. government. People and organizations, such as Snowden and Wikileaks, have begun to fight back to reestablish the balance of civil liberties and cyber security. The future of this critical issue is yet to be written, but it is clear that cyber security hackers will become increasingly sophisticated, requiring additional intervention to ensure citizen safety. Industrialization of new viruses and digital weapons could truly change the balance of power between countries and threaten our way of life as we know. In the past, mercantilism allowed countries with the most land to maintain the greatest power, yet now this reality has taken a paradigm shift. The country with the most readily available digital warriors and resources will triumph in this new world order. Cyber security was developed to help protect law abiding citizens, but the balance has begun to dangerously tip. Many Americans believe that the civil rights, upon which our country was founded, are now severely threatened in the name of digital protection. Cyber security issues will most likely bring about a retrenching of how we share information. The global openness of the world wide web as we now know it will likely become a thing of the past as organizations react to the cyber security enemy and build dedicated communications platforms that deny access to the world. What the world had built as an open platform is now destroying itself from the inside out.

Citations:

Kaufman, Micha. “The Internet Revolution is the New Industrial Revolution.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 5 Oct. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.

Klimas , Liz . “Connecting the Dots: A Timeline of the NSA.” The Blaze 3 June 2013, Technology ed.: n. pag. Print.

Lawrence , Dune . “The U.S Government Wants 6,000 New ‘Cyberwarriors’ by 2016.”Bloomberg Businessweek Technology 15 Apr. 2014, Technology ed.: n. pag. Print.

McCracken, Harry . “SXSW: Edward Snowden Has No Regrets About NSA Leaks.” TIME 10 Mar. 2014: n. pag. Print.

Riley , Michael. “Snowden’s Access to NSA’s Deepest Secrets Disputed.” Bloomberg Businessweek Technology 18 July 2013, Politics & Policy ed.: n. pag. Print.

X. Cringely , Robert . “A History of the Computer.” PBS. PBS, 1 Jan. 1996. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.


[1] http://idcdocserv.com/1414


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