Our Continuously Connected Lives: What’s Your “Aptitude”?

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Week Four

Our Continuously Connected Lives: What’s Your “Aptitude”?

For those of us in the technology world, the blistering pace at which innovation hits the market is a reality that we thrive on.  We seek out new software and devices like many children long for Christmas gifts.  In connection with our affinity for technology and connectedness, many of us grow complacent with the latest buzz generating device and continue to look forward to the next big thing.

In terms of cybersecurity, the breakneck speed at which technology moves doesn’t always lend itself to a sound footing when it comes to safety.  Often times, the pace of innovation in connectivity exceeds the cybersecurity thought processes for many devices.  Yet, with the tremendous benefits that technological innovations can deliver, these developments also come with increased risks and vulnerabilities that shouldn’t be minimized. It follows that those of us who seek out increased connectivity will need mounting levels of awareness to the growing risks that are presented coupled with thorough strategies to protect our devices, data, and digital lives in this brave new world.

From the view of someone who evangelizes the necessity of security, the current approach to technical innovation appears to operate on an “invent first, secure second” paradigm.  While this approach may lead to unencumbered product launches, it may not fully consider the long-term ramifications of myopathy on the cybersecurity front.  Many technical experts have long expounded the need for cybersecurity to be a foundational element within innovation in lieu of a process that is simply tacked on as an afterthought to connectivity.

An appropriate case study of this phenomenon would be the rise of IoT devices, which run the gamut from thermostats to fully automated, self-driving cars.  There are countless articles that point to the particular susceptibility these IoT devices present in terms of lacking security.  Certainly, we can all agree that having our thermostats hacked is not something anyone desires, but having a vehicle hacked presents an altogether more life threatening situation.  Yet, the future of cybercrime and hacking may well hinge on this transition from data theft to tangible physical harm emanating from these cyber threats.

Given the gravity of this all but certain transition, the public’s aptitude for living in a continuously connected world must increase.  Just as walking alone at night on a city street requires heightened awareness to our surroundings, our new, always on, digital age will also require ongoing vigilance in response to the threats that emerge around us.  This evolution in the way we live shouldn’t surprise us as the history of mankind is one of continual innovation and change.

Given the certainty of change and the emergence of criminals ready to exploit it, consumers and technology providers must both be equally committed to employing wisdom, precaution, and perhaps a healthy dose of paranoia before we plug in to fully connect our lives.  Thankfully, there are an abundance of resources to help us develop an aptitude for digital security.