Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
Roosevelt probably wasn’t talking about cyber security when he said that, but his words still hold just as true – to participate in a functioning democracy we must be educated on the issues. Cyber security touches every aspect of our modern lives from our personal computers and applications to global politics but ironically, many of us choose to go uninformed about the proceedings in this important field. I’ll go through a couple important pieces of news over the past couple years and you can choose if you are “prepared to choose wisely.”
Typically when I talk to my peers about this subject I rarely get find anyone to be completely uninformed about the subject. They always have some background on the subject but often it is just the headline. “Is the Chinese government actually attacking US corporations?” “can we be sure?” “They aren’t really doing that much, are they?” I’ve even heard some misinformed individuals try to tell me that the severity of these escapades are sensationalized.
In 2013 Mandiant released a report officially calling out the Chinese presenting evidence that beyond a shadow of a doubt fingers the People’s Liberation Army (PLA – Chinese Military) as the perpetrators of these attacks. Watch the summary below and if you have time read the report. If anything is sensationalized, it’s the novelty of this news.
Among the security conscious, the use of the computer worm labeled “Stuxnet” was one of the biggest and most important events of the 21st century but it continues to astound me how few people have even heard about it. Patrick Clair does an excellent job describing what exactly it was and what it did in the below video.
Analysts speculate that this piece of software set back the Iranian Nuclear program years. It is ironic, for all the people I’ve met who have strong opinions about the politics surrounding the Iranian nuclear program, a disappointing number of them have no idea what any of this is.
Both of these stories are from a couple of years ago however, important events in the expanding field where public policy and cyber security intersect happen daily. Especially with the presidential election coming up next year, you owe it not just to yourself but to your country to become informed before you cast your vote. If either of these stories surprised you, you’ve got some work to do.