False Sense of Security: Cyber Ignorance




What truly struck me in hearing from a Cyber Security expert is the way we go about trusting our technology. Right off the bat he opened our eyes to the security problem we often, if not always, ignore. We forget that the people developing our software, even our hardware, aren’t cyber security experts. They continually release products that in their eyes are good enough, good enough to make profit and be accepted by the public, until they discover a bug later on and fix it.

This struck me the most because many of us now treat our technology as a trusted and loyal friend. We scan and send over W4 forms with our social security numbers, we save endless data in our googledocs and endlessly enter our credit card numbers for late night online shopping. While I am no expert in this field and am not sure I accurately depicted the ways information can be stolen, one thing is clear. This isn’t the case. There are bugs in every system and our trust level is far too high.

Take it from avid Apple users. When you enter a liberal arts classroom on campus you see Apple everywhere. The few PC laptops are often the minority. We’ve all been told in layman terms from friends of friends and Apple ‘geniuses’ that Apple computers are solid with no chance of viruses or security threats. This makes us feel invincible in our Cyber world. When this story hit the news, many of us questioned things for the first time. Wait, Apple isn’t perfect? Have we been doing things we shouldn’t have? Should we have been second guessing our safety?

The public is far less aware of the Cyber Security threat and it makes our loving relationship with technology that much more simple. It’s like dating someone with a foolproof contract that they can’t and will not hurt you. Unfortunately, this is not the reality. I only wish that more people got exposure to this topic in classrooms around the U.S. as a mandatory way to understand the complex world we now live in.

Related to development, this makes me rethink some previous assumptions. We often talk about trust as a huge part of getting individuals to use technology or accept technology in developing countries. Instead, maybe we should be a little less trusting like them. Maybe this lack of trust is worthy and this sense of questioning is something Americans need to bring back in order to make sure their safety is not at risk.


photo source: http://www.jklossner.com/computerworld/security.html


3 responses to “False Sense of Security: Cyber Ignorance

  • veggiemunster

    Why did you include the above comic? In an earlier class on war, I did a paper on Cyber Warfare, that’s why I asked Mr. Hersch about it in class. The cartoon above seems to be about a type of cyber warfare/security that Mr. Hersch didn’t really touch on. Internet freedom, like the inability to access Facebook in China without a sneak-around. Here are my thoughts on the subject:
    When governments “crack down on the Internet”, they can hurt their own economy and are trying to regulate free speech in the process. To not let the people of a country speak, means that a sovereign will not obtain the helpfulness of the citizens’ political and economic suggestions and ideas. Instead of an “army of censors”, a group of bureaucrats pour over concerns posted on the Internet and attempt to fix the problems presented. It doesn’t work, as we’ve seen in countries like China, folks either get around it or don’t like it, making the government look bad.

  • rgoode2

    I think the comic can totally be about cyber security! If you put a lid on something, sure, it blocks things from getting out (like you suggest) but it also prevents things from getting in. Cyber security is such a real threat but its hard to conceptualize because it seems so abstract- its not someone posing bodily harm to your physical self, so its harder for us to be afraid of it I think. But if you think about it, someone stealing your information/identity can ruin your life. Literally ruin it. Its also weird to think about how much information has been collected through the web over the years. I wonder what its going to be like during the presidential campaign of say, 2050, when unless a candidate has been living under a rock his/her whole life, we’ll already know all their dirties secrets, from that time they partied naked in college to how bad their acne was in middle school. “Vetting” political candidates is going to mean simply running web check and collecting all their pictures/posts/info. Its crazy to think about. And just because you yourself aren’t on facebook, doesn’t mean there isn’t documentation of you on it- what with all those new parents posting constant baby pictures documenting their child’s entire lives, it seems like most of us in the US are losing all hope of anonymity. Creepy.

  • emcdona1

    I, too, have been a victim of “trusting in the system” a bit too much. Technology has become such a normal part of our lives that we forget how complex of a system it can be. The Target incident this November is a perfect example. There was an infiltration of Target’s credit and debit card systems, resulting in 40 million credit and debit cards getting stolen. Our trust and faith in swiping our card is very misplaced. It definitely made me think twice before making online purchases and using technology to exchange valuable information.

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