Cybersecurity Part 1: The Past & Future

  • February 14, 2017
  • Helen Murphy

In 1970 an engineer named John Draper discovered that the whistle included as a prize in boxes of Captain Crunch emitted a perfect 2600 Hz tone – the exact pitch needed to access AT&T’s tone-controlled phone system. Draper and others used this information to build a device that allowed them to place long distance calls (expensive at the time) and cause general mayhem (call the Vatican) for free.

It used to be the case that hackers had to have expertise in programming. Now, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can steal information, learn how to distribute malware, and more.

Hacking has come a long way since the 70s. So has the cybersecurity industry. Between 2017 and 2021, business and consumer cybersecurity spending is expected to be upwards of $1 trillion. Not surprising when you consider that enormous, high-profile breaches happen regularly, that more devices are connected to the Internet, making them susceptible to breach, and the uncertainty surrounding it all. People and companies are worried and looking for solutions. Here are a few trends that I believe will shape the industry in the coming years.

Consumers Need Help
A 2016 National Cyber Security Alliance study revealed that Americans are more worried about their data privacy than losing their main source of income. A separate study found that the most common password is still 123456. These facts tell me two things: 1) There is still a huge amount of consumer education that needs to be done on how to keep online data safe, 2) Consumers are lazy and still opting for usability over security. Businesses developing and selling solutions in the cybersecurity industry need to keep both these things top of mind. Things like adaptive authentication and using analytics to predict risk will continue to emerge as solutions in the coming years.

IoT, Big Data, and Privacy in a Balancing Act
By 2020, there will be 21 billion connected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).  These connected devices bring incredible functionality and conveniences to our day-to-day lives. Often these conveniences are achieved through data generation – a thermostat that knows what time you get home, a fitness tracker that knows how active you were in any given day, or a smart speaker that knows your music preferences. These devices generate billions of data points every day. What happens with this data is going to be a big privacy conversation in the coming years. Just last week, Vizio paid a $2.2 million fine to the FTC for collecting consumer viewing data on 11 million TVs without the owners’ knowledge or consent. In addition to collecting data, they were attaching it to specific demographic information like gender, age, income, marital status, education level, home ownership, and selling the packaged information to third parties. As consumers become more aware of the IoT and the data it generates, they will want more transparency and control, and businesses are going to need to satisfactorily answer the question “what do you do with my data?”

Breach as a Third Certainty
Former USA Today reporter, Byron Acohido, now authors and edits a cybersecurity site called Third Certainty. The name is apt. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and data exposure. When thinking of cybersecurity, businesses and consumers need to switch their mindset from “if I get breached” to “when I get breached.” The truth is, a determined hacker can break into any system given enough time and resources. In the coming years, businesses and consumers will need to start putting cybersecurity front and center. This includes education, creating policies to keep employee and customer information secure, using solutions that include best-in-class encryption and authentication, and so much more.

For more than a decade, INK has been supporting the communications needs of companies bringing innovative cybersecurity solutions and products to market. We have a serious passion for this stuff. Next week, I’ll share some tips on how businesses can get their voice heard amongst the considerable amount of noise in the cybersecurity space. In the meantime, shoot me a note at if you want to discuss additional trends shaping the industry.

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