In light of 2014’s unsettling string of data breaches and cyber-attacks, the Obama Administration is ramping up efforts to strengthen America’s cybersecurity and make it more difficult for hackers to damage our businesses, hurt our economy and threaten our freedom to information. On Tuesday, President Obama is expected to speak about cybersecurity in his State of the Union Address.
Adopted by more than 2.5 billion people in the first 20 years of its existence, the Internet permeates through every aspect of our corporate, personal and government lives. The Internet is easily one of the most democratic and disruptive inventions of the last century; it is the epitome of free speech.
Only two decades old, the Internet was unchartered legal territory, lacking firm regulatory standards and protection by international law. Further, the unprecedented demand for mobile devices (more people in the world have access to cell phones than toilets, according to the U.N.), further convolutes legal issues when it comes to Internet use and what is private and public information. This is disturbing since ninety percent of the world’s data — your information and mine — was created in the last two years alone.
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The Internet is widely perceived as a tool that has given voice to the voiceless, enabling individuals to author their own lives and to share their experiences with a vast network of people around the globe. The term “Internet revolution” refers to the birth of a new information era that has transformed the way we create and share content. And, rightly so.
If we want to make our societies, nations, and people more secure and allow for the Internet to drive the benefits of improving every aspect of life that it permeates through today – we must stand up to the challenge of protecting our data. And, we must act now.
Two key events will occur between 2015 and 2020 that will have critical implications for mankind.
The Next Five Billion
The next five billion people will come online, the majority from developing countries. Over time, they will transition from feature phones to smartphones. Personal privacy will be essential to ensuring their survival – both offline and online.
By 2025, Africa’s iGDP (which measures the Internet’s contribution to overall GDP) should grow at least five to six percent resulting in the improved delivery of health care, education and other public services, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Large populations stand to benefit from Africa’s accelerated digital development. And, for those in developing countries who regularly fight for Internet freedom and access, a breach in privacy or censorship to access critical information could be life-threatening.
Privacy and Internet freedom will be a matter of life and death to citizens of the developing world.
The Internet of Things Means More Data
If 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years, can you imagine what that statistic will look like in five years given more data moving online with the Internet of Things? The amount of our data stored online will expand exponentially.
Thus security and privacy protection will become even more necessary in the next five years as we continue to digitize every aspect of our lives – from fitness to home automation.
Unfortunately, what many Internet security and privacy companies offer today are solutions so complex and cumbersome that most consumers, and even some IT administrators, find them too complicated to use. A five-year-old can figure out how to watch a video on an iPad or make a call on an iPhone, but can a five-year-old figure out how to use security software? No.
The challenge for security companies is to create solutions that can be easily adopted into everyday life. As a government, we must support infrastructures and Internet policies that promote access and privacy. But how can the mobile industry build sustainable business models in areas where potential conflict is as sure as demand for connectivity? The answer will be making sure privacy and access are part of the equation at product inception and that policy and legislation account for privacy and access in the new Internet-driven world.
We must make security and privacy ubiquitous, simple, and understood by all. Only then will we be able to preserve one of the greatest innovations of the last century, the Internet, and allow our world to continue to develop, innovate, and prosper.
David Gorodyansky is co-founder of AnchorFree.
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