The first prototype of the Internet came in the 1960s (Andrews, 2013). In about 1990 this entity would take on a form recognizable as the modern internet. Since its creation, the prevalence of the online community in our lives has grown exponentially; much of our business, social interactions, schoolwork and personal information are not only conducted online but also stored there. One of the major appeals of the internet is its easy access and vast memory; attributes like these make activities like online banking much faster and easier than before. While the internet has shaped much of our lives for the last 20-30 years, there are drawbacks to a world wide web… Data being so easily accessible nowadays is easily exploited, for example, in 2016 cyber-criminals managed to steal and abuse the credit card data of 48% of Americans (Reducing Personal Cybersecurity Risk, 2019). The cybersecurity industry has therefore been required to develop alongside the internet to keep users and their information safe as their lifestyles have changed with these advancements. Without cybersecurity many of the internet’s uses are unsafe and unrealistic.
According to Global Market Insights, by the year 2024 cybersecurity will be a $300 billion industry (Bhutani & Wadhwani, 2019). This projection is based on the assumed growth of the internet over the next 5 years and it is not unprecedented. Many of the technological features we use in our everyday life are still relatively young, for example: the ability to email from every device, share documents online, and access databases from almost anywhere, has only existed for 13 years (Spencer, 2019) so who can imagine where we will be 5-10 years from now? It is for this reason that cybersecurity is one of the most prevalent actors in the field of Science, Technology, and Society to date.
Up until about 1995 most cybersecurity attacks were targeting high level government computers, mostly for military purposes. It wasn’t until a Cornell grad named Robert Morris created a worm that shut down most of the internet in 1988 that the true vulnerability of the internet was realized. This spurred the creation of the first firewall. Soon after, the first anti-virus software was developed to prevent viruses that were being spread over infected floppy diskes (Banga 2018). The software was remarkable due to its ability to seek out and mark data as “malicious”. These first cybersecurity advancements were effective in their time, but as mobile data usage increased hackers’ methods became more sophisticated. By 2008 nearly 500,000 new pieces of malware were being discovered monthly (Banga 2018). The traditional firewalls and antivirus protection became obsolete and inadequate so the next generation of defense systems were designed to improve security in a world reliant on mobile devices and the Cloud. While effective, it was clear after a 2013 Yahoo! incident that securing large networks is expensive and extremely difficult. A new approach was needed now that experts could not keep up with the problem. Endpoint Protection Programs were the next step, instead of relying on static signatures to identify viruses, they introduced the use of signatures scanning for malware families based on existing/already discovered malware (SentinelOne, 2019). Nowadays, networks are larger and contain more important data, making the necessary security more complicated and elaborate, as well as making the stakes that much higher.
cybersecurity and Social media
Despite being relatively young, the internet had over 3.4 billion users as of 2016 (Roser, Ritchie, & Ortiz-Ospina, 2019) and it is estimated that every 15 seconds around the world, someone joins a social media site (Powell, 2019). Each of these sign-ons comes with personal info, date of birth, age, security questions, passwords and more. The passwords specifically are a vital piece of internet security because access to them means the ability to impersonate the owner. A frequently used, and also relatively new function of Apple products is the Apple keychain. The Apple keychain allows a user to store multiple types of data including passwords, private keys, certificates, and secure notes across devices for easy access. Keychain has experienced many issues during its time, the most recent of which occurred in February 2019 and exposed a flaw that allowed access to keychain information via FaceTime from another device. What’s worse is that Apple did not immediately rectify the situation, as the hacker requested payment to divulge the nature of the breach. Google is another big company that has access to a lot of personal information. Have you ever noticed that the sponsored ads you find on your social media, or simply while browsing the internet match your recent searches? That’s because Google can base what ads they show you off of your search history, YouTube views, or even promotions you lingered over for too long on Facebook. We can assume Google has no bad intentions with this data, but do you trust them to keep this data safe for each of their 2.5 billion+ users?
Cybersecurity’s weight in society is increasing as tech giants like Apple, Facebook, and Google continue to accumulate user’s information. At the same time, cybercrime is a real threat that continues to be neglected by most people, the total cost of all cybercrime in 2017 totaled around $600 billion which is anticipated to grow to $6 trillion by the year 2021 and includes many types of virtual attacks. Ransomware will restrict access to software, malware will corrupt it, and viruses and worms will even jump from device to device, but all are ultimately trying to exploit these mechanisms to make money. Hackers see cybercrime as a faster, cheaper, and less risky means of stealing; the low risk high reward mentality leads to a massive number of attempted break-ins per day, on average, an attempted attack occurs once every 39 seconds, according to a study by the University of Maryland (Milkovich, 2019). The development of a technological society has pushed the progression of cybersecurity but also, as cybersecurity developments are made, more opportunities to maximize the potential of the internet are opened up. For more information about the Cyber Threat, see this infographic produced by the U.S. Military.
Cybersecurity as of 2019 is no longer just about protecting systems from hackers or viruses but rather about paving the way for further advancements. The collaboration between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human developments on data can lead to breakthroughs in a number of prolific fields. As machine learning continues to develop, opportunities for functions of online communities, databases, etc. will become apparent and will be taken advantage of. Ever since the first firewall in 1988, the cybersecurity industry has operated by recognizing a problem and creating a solution. Moving forward, the industry is shifting towards a more progressive plan which allows AI to analyze a defense system, find the holes in it, and automatically create a code that will prevent entry. These newest developments are being created with the understanding that human error will occur, these “zero-trust” techniques limit the frequency and impact of incidents. Companies are beginning to consider the hacker’s point of view when contemplating the defense of their servers. CEOs and CFOs are scrutinizing security spending and new investments are required to yield measurable reduction in breach risk before being pursued. (Banga 2018). On another note, cybersecurity is also a huge contributor to the job market. From private companies to government or military defense, many arenas require the presence of tech-savvy employees for the defense of their data. It is estimated by Cyberseek.com that 997,000 cybersecurity jobs are filled in the U.S. alone (as of 2019) while half a million openings in the market remain unfilled. It is even noted by Indeed.com that the demand for the position by employers is increasing at a faster rate than potential employees are applying. The future of cybersecurity is promising for many, if not all, major fields of opportunity.
For most of its existence cybersecurity has been an afterthought to most people, but as more and more of our lives rely on the internet the protection of such information has been brought into question. The movement of cybersecurity from afterthought to absolute necessity is what makes it a huge contributor in the world of STS. The internet as a whole may be the most important development of our generation and the functions that a worldwide web allows are worthless without their security being ensured. Now, despite some flaws in the process, cybersecurity is trending toward amazing success considering the strides being made in the world of AI. Going forward, it is hard to know what to expect from these industries but as of 2019 the upward trend is obvious; for example, banks are implementing AI within middle-office functions to prevent fraud, detect money laundering, and to help with regulatory checks (Digalaki, 2019). Cybersecurity has had an almost immeasurable effect on society, despite the fact that it often operates in the background of your day-to-day life.
- Short Answer: How often is every attempted breach on average?
- Short Answer: How many users does Google have?
- Short Answer: Based on projections, how many dollars per year will the cybersecurity industry bring in by 2024?
- Short Answer: When was the first computer virus found?
- Short Answer: What kinds of advancements are allowing cybersecurity to reach new heights? And how?
- Short Answer: Explain a function of the internet that would be useless without the cybersecurity industry.
Anderson, Sharon. (2017) The Cyber Threat Is Real. CHIPS: The Department of the Navy’s Information Technology Magazine. Retrieved on October 3, 2017, https://www.doncio.navy.mil/CHIPS/ArticleDetails.aspx?ID=9569.
Andrews, E. (2013, December 18). Who invented the internet? Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/who-invented-the-internet.
Banga, G. (2018, October 10). How Three Waves Of Cybersecurity Innovation Led Us Here. Forbes.com. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/10/10/how-three-waves-of-cyber-security-innovation-led-us-here/#4e0bec7d43d7.
Bhutani, A & Wadhwani, P. (2019, July 24). Global Cyber Security Market Size worth $300bn by 2024. Global Market Insights. Retrieved on October 12, 2019 from https://www.gminsights.com/pressrelease/cyber-security-market.
Digalaki, E. (2019, June 24). The $450B opportunity for the applications of artificial intelligence in the banking sector & examples of how banks are using AI. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/the-ai-in-banking-report-2019-6.
Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2019. (2019, June 13). Indeed.com. Retrieved from http://blog.indeed.com/2019/04/25/cybersecurity-outlook-2019/.
Milkovich, D. (2019, September 25). 15 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats. Cybint. Retrieved from https://www.cybintsolutions.com/cyber-security-facts-stats/.
Powell, M. (2019, June 24). 11 Eye Opening Cyber Security Statistics for 2019. CPO Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.cpomagazine.com/cyber-security/11-eye-opening-cyber-security-statistics-for-2019/.
Reducing Personal Cybersecurity Risk. (2019) All Hands: Magazine of the U.S. Navy. Retrieved on October 14, 2019 from https://allhands.navy.mil/Stories/Display-Story/Article/1986091/reducing-personal-cybersecurity-risk
Spencer, J. (2019, June 3). Why is Cyber Security Important in 2019? Security First. Retrieved on November 3, 2019 from https://securityfirstcorp.com/why-is-cyber-security-important/.
“Foreign Economic Espionage in Cyberspace” by Director of National Intelligence is in the Public Domain