Cybersecurity has become one of the most important topics of conversation for business, governments and the general population, all those striving for the security and privacy of their data, some of which is stored in the cloud.
There are measures that can be taken to protect data, but the situation is worsening. Entire industries are being threatened with ransomware - one of the most malignant hacking enterprises - as criminal ‘businesses’ pop up around the world.
Experts warn that even connecting to a government-funded free Wi-Fi hotspot puts people at risk of being hacked. The danger for the individual, of course, is that personal data can result in the theft of identity which is potentially very costly and tricky to retrieve.
Warnings and cautions abound. One of these asserts, for example, that without a two-factor authentication on a Gmail email, incidents of account hacking are the fault of the owner.
However, for large-scale operations, that require interconnected servers like government and industry, securing data from prying hackers is not as simple.
Image: The National Cyber Security Center in Gloucestershire. Credit: www.gchq.gov.uk
In the United Kingdom, seven start-up cybersecurity engineering firms have been handpicked by the national intelligence agency to assist in the operation of a countrywide firewall named the GCHQ Cyber Accelerator. It will be housed in the new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, England.
The firewall is supposed to stop hackers from accessing government servers and those of key industries, including power generation, some engineering and education operations, charities and will also be used by small business.
At the Billington Summit in Washington D.C. on the 4th of October, 2016, the National Cyber Security Centre Chief Executive, Ciaran Martin, delivered a speech on cyber security. An excerpt from the transcript of his speech reads:
“Our critical systems are going increasingly digital. Systems like the power grid have long had significant computer networks and we’ve worked with those providers on security issues for a very long time. Manual systems, like the meters used for measuring gas and electric usage, are going digital too. This Smart Meter technology will keep costs down and improve the environment, but it will also mean a box connected to the Internet in every home and business in our country.”
The incoming 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump’s team took to his official Facebook page to announce that former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, will head up the department that deals with cyber security in the country:
“As the use of modern communications and technology has moved forward at unparalleled speed the necessary defences have lagged behind. The President-elect recognizes that this needs immediate attention and input from private sector leaders to help the government plan to make us more secure.”
Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of Russian-based Kaspersky Lab, the specialists in computer firewall protection, dreams of a future where it would be too cumbersome a task to hack into any infrastructure worldwide. In 2016, Malwarebytes quoted him, saying:
“Securing infrastructure against hackers is a massive challenge, but I believe that one day we will achieve the state when you can have a wind turbine connected to the Internet, but still be absolutely secure.”
The Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Steve Mackay, maintains that the introduction of ethernet and TCP/IP unfortunately raised the likelihood that engineering industries would be hacked.
“We need to design - into everything we do, both individually and holistically - some sort of cyber security. Furthermore, security must be multi-layered to foil hackers getting through initial firewalls. ” Mackay said.
The Engineering Institute of Technology offers a 6-week live, online course that covers the basics of cybersecurity for automation, control and SCADA systems, focussing on the current trends occurring in the industry today.
Increasingly the world will need engineering professionals able to implement security measures for industrial control systems in the cyber world.
"Donald J. Trump." Facebook - Log In or Sign Up. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
EngInstTech. "ENN36 Industrial Internet Security." YouTube. YouTube, 17 June 2016. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
"GCHQ Backs Cybersecurity Start-ups in New Cheltenham Hub." BBC News. BBC, 11 Jan. 2017. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.
Tsing, William. "Threat Modeling: What Are You so Afraid Of?" Malwarebytes Labs. Malwarebytes, 17 Oct. 2016. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.