Traditionally, when we think about Cyber Security, what comes to mind is national defense and protection from others. In the United States cyber security is a means to protect not only individual money and identity, but is rapidly transforming into a tactic to cohesively bar and protect the nation’s ideas, defense operations, water, energy, and innovations. As United States citizens, our daily lives are both operated on and operated by computer technology. As our last IDEV4100 class exposed, our connection to the cyber landscape is both a benefit and a vulnerability. However, as I ponder security of the cyber world, I cannot help but question what this means for people and nations that are not fully “plugged-in”. What does cyber security look mean to individuals in, say, rural Nepal or even a college campus in Ghana? More so, while as citizens of the United States, we have access to secure and locked hardware and software, most developing nations do not. How is cyber security negotiated when every piece of technology used is imported, unlocked, and potentially insecure?
After pondering my own questions, I realized that cyber security for individuals in developing countries means protecting the small amount of resources that are owned and available to them. For instance, if individuals are transferring small money through their mobile phone, the application that allows them to do so needs to be secure so that their identity and money is safe and not stolen. The ramifications otherwise can be catastrophic to those that are already living in poverty or marginal communities. Further, cyber security means that businesses in developing countries can grow and learn about technology safely and that governments can protect their citizens.
Cyber security also means that development projects do not create another vulnerability for the population they are trying to help. In the article, “Why Information Security Matters in ICT4D”, Jon Camfield explains that there is a necessary space for cyber security in development for project initiatives because, often, project databases contain private information about people, organizations, and vulnerable populations. Given the sensitivity of project data and information, Camfield proposes that every project plan must include a budget and method for information security. Without it, too many people, communities, resources, and ideas are at risk in the cyber landscape. Pulling from an earlier article, Camfield also connects a key principle in the development realm: partner collaboration. Basically, in order to increase information security and utilize affordable and available technological skill-sets, projects should build a collaborative network between the “security community and the ICT4D world” (Camfield). Ultimately, in an effort to transmit, manage, and protect information in the growing digital age, cyber security must be an imperative concern for practitioners of ICT and development.