Fighting the good fight in cyberspace

29 October 2010

I attended a Deloitte sponsored panel session at the National Press Club last week on cyber security and workforce development – what I believe to be one of the more crucial issues we face online today. A rash of recent hacker activity has many companies actively addressing their security measures – from securing information on mobile devices to confidential enterprise data. Last week’s panel discussion acknowledged most companies and government agencies simply don’t have the resources or personnel to combat all cyber threats that exist and offered the audience ways both the government and enterprises can train and maintain a larger cyber workforce. And it appears that sentiment has reached the top.

The White House formed a subcommittee this week which will advise the Obama administration on regulatory and legislative issues for the Web. Specifically, the committee will review consumer Internet privacy and develop help implement those laws and regulations. These regulations will incorporate input from private companies too: the subcommittee will be working with online retailers specifically to ensure their business interests are met.

Both the panel and the committee acknowledge the severity of cybercrime, from terrorists carrying out widespread harm, to hackers looking for credit card numbers. As we inch closer to the holiday season, perhaps those with the most at stake are last minute holiday shoppers like me. Cyber Monday – the busiest online shopping day of the year – reminds us how much personal information we make available how easy it is to subsequently steal.  We live in an age where cyber crime has advanced beyond rogue teenage hackers in their parents’ garage, to intelligent cyber terrorists who could tap into our water supply, shut down our electricity grid and disrupt our transportation system as well.

Frightening? Absolutely. But not altogether unsolvable. Higher education institutions are offering cyber security training programs. Couple that with the commitment by the current administration to protect consumers on the Internet, and we’re gaining peace of mind. But more can be done. And my hope is that these institutions will continue to promote their programs and lure top minds into building a stronger cyber workforce today for a safer tomorrow.

Hill & Knowlton works with many divisions of Deloitte including its federal practice.

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