Thought for the day: Cyberspace, the final frontier

Simon Moores is still waiting for politicians to take the threat of cyber attack seriously.

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Cyber attacks are still on the rise and we are as vulnerable as ever. Simon Moores is waiting for politicians to take the threat seriously.

 

 

 

The Conservatives are to call for an Opposition day (or half-day) debate on information security in areas where it touches the critical national infrastructure, crime and overall commercial confidence in the internet.

And about time too, given the number of cyber attacks over the past six months and with security firm Symantec reporting that financial services, healthcare, power and energy sectors are becoming popular targets.

“How are we going to handle the rising tide of e-crime from grooming and phishing through to large-scale charge card and benefit fraud as criminals use the internet to automate old crimes and invent new ones faster that law enforcement appears able to respond?" asked Philip Virgo of parliamentary group Eurim.

Symantec’s latest internet security threat report, which gives an average of 220 security vulnerabilities (an average of 99 of these were “high" severity), a month between July and December 2003, makes sobering reading.

Even consultancy Mi2G, with its predictions of a future littered with "Malware tsunamis", “globally spawned cyber-catastrophes” and "decompression bombs”, argues that there is a lack of coherent strategy at the national state level to contain digital risk.

In the light of last week’s outrage in Madrid, it appears that we have no clearer answers in cyberspace than those in the very real and risk-prone world of exploding trains, planes and cars.

There’s very little guarantee that it’s safer to live in London now than it was in the 1970s when the IRA were the terrorists,  and we are told that on the internet "a new and dangerous point has been reached in the global digital eco-system”, which is convoluted Mi2G-speak for “It’s a complete mess and we’re all screwed”.

Do we have any real answers to the security problems anywhere, or are we guilty of posturing and pretence?

You have industry and business, battling unsuccessfully to fill the holes in IT infrastructure before the next digital tsunami washes over them, and then there are examples of security suppliers shamelessly milking the opportunity in the interests of their shareholders.

Finally, there are the hackers, who have never had it so good, waving a finger at government and law-enforcement who, between them and on a global scale, have yet to arrive at anything approaching a workable solution to policing an unregulated internet without putting a block on personal freedom.

Discussing the wider information security problem in Parliament is, at best, a step on the ladder, because it puts internet security firmly on the agenda with other issues of national importance.

However, a chasm exists between debate and delivery of solutions and, if industry is unable to offer convincing answers, then it would be unreasonable to expect politicians to agree on sensible measures that might offer a level of reassurance for the future.

What do you think?

If you were a politician, what measures would you put in place to protect the internet? Tell us in an e-mail >>  ComputerWeekly.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the website. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of leading industry analyst Dr Simon Moores of Zentelligence.

Acting globally, Zentelligence (Research) advises governments, suppliers, business and the media on the evolution, application and delivery of leading-edge technologies and specialises in the areas of eGovernment and information security.

For further information on Zentelligence and its research, presentation and analyst services visit www.zentelligence.com

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