Why security is creeping out of the shadows

10 years or so ago, Cybersecurity was something that was talked about in hidden rooms, secret meetings and was almost like some dark magic practice that most didn't understand or feared. There were some blips of populous fame for some would-be hackers who made a name for themselves in this almost medieval time like Kevin Mitnick but most remained hidden figures with little or no public profile.

Being in the public eye was not something that was an accepted practice, it was frowned upon in fact. Over the last few years that has started to change though especially in Australia, we in the security industry are no longer the forgotten department hiding out in the basement of businesses, we are on the board, we are at management meetings and we are constantly in front of users and the general public.

So why have we come out of the dark, in full public view and in a position of influence? I think that the answer is simple, it was necessary. I really think it is as simple as that, breaches were happening for large organisations and people were freaking out about their data, who had access to it and what were companies doing to ensure that information was safe. The more that we (general public) blur our lives with the online and technology world the more breaches and incidents occur. The more that malicious actors would set targets on unsuspecting victims.

People live a majority of their lives in the digital space, I myself have a big online presence. We nearly all have social media profiles, blogs and even our medical data is online. Cybersecurity professionals are the defenders of this world and no one would feel safe if they couldn't see the army of people who are defending them each day.

Even ASD (Australian Signals Directorate) a once mysterious division of the army that was tasked with secretly defending our country and attacking our enemies who were mostly only talked about with hush tones. These people were the secret cyber spies and cyber assassins of Australia who had operated in absolute secrecy suddenly had been thrown out into the public view.

I think it was a great move and I would have loved to have been in the room between the government goonies and the ASD goonies when they were trying to explain why they were suddenly being thrown out into the light. ASD's move into the limelight and the formation of the JCSC (Joint Cyber Security Centres) in all major cities as well as absorbing the ACSC (Australia's public-facing cyber department/entity) cemented to the world and Australia the shift out of the shadows. It was the government almost flipping the bird to the malicious actors and other state-sponsored cyber groups. "we are here, we are not hiding and we are here to stay” an interesting move compared to how things used to be done.

Let's look at this a bit closer, cybersecurity is on the news almost every night, we need people out there telling people we are in this fight, we are here to help you fight this fight and we all need to stand together.

We need to be on the boards advising ways to keep companies out of the news, we need to be at every business development meeting ensuring that security is thought about on every new platform, ensure that it is implemented and checked at every stage. That is the only way we will make a difference.

We need to bring more people into the battle, new recruits are needed at a constant rate and we need to have strong and wide diversity. We need people from all backgrounds who can look at this issue from an angle in which the traditional cyber force wouldn’t have looked at it before. Who considers the same problem but can offer alternatives to current approaches, that’s how we will move forward.

We need to be approachable by users, they won't approach the dark hooded shadowy figures that have been the mythical creatures depicted in both media and Hollywood. We need people to be comfortable with asking questions, learning about how to be safer online, helping them be better educated about all things cyber risk. So let us continue to pull ourselves out of the shadows, let's build our army of budding cyber people and let's show the world that we can take back control of the internet once and for all before it becomes too late and we lose all hope of ever getting the upper hand on the cybercriminals or shady governments who wish to push their control.

I may have got a little off track in this article but I am sure that you all understand what I was trying to get at here. Throw off the hoodie stereotype and let’s stand together as we always should have…

Till next time.


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