Cyber security vs open networks: Where is the balance?
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Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the internet, is a great supporter of unrestricted access for everyone. He has said in the past that ISPs should supply “connectivity with no strings attached”. This is understandable, after all the “three As” are what make the internet so special: information available to all, any time and any place.
However, Mr Berners-Lee probably wasn’t thinking about cyber-attacks when he made that comment. He was more likely referring to people’s right to access information. Still, the openness of the Web benefits hackers just as much as everyone else. On the other hand, if you take the concept of cyber security to its logical conclusion, you would have a standalone computer. So where’s the balance?
One popular approach is the walled garden. This is where users of a particular service can only access approved information. On the one hand, this does restrict the supply of content, but it also offers users a higher level of security as everything in the garden will have undergone security checks before being allowed in.
The walled garden approach is at odds with the rapidly growing interconnectedness currently evident in cyberspace. It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the extent to which the Internet of things is connecting devices to each other. Gartner Inc. estimates there will be 13.5 billion connected devices by 2020. The mind boggles.
There is always a trade-off between openness and security. Perhaps the best approach is to find the balance that works best for your company, instead of going with the crowd. The current trend strongly favours openness. However, remember that the more interconnected you are, the greater the risk.
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