Our collective Achilles' heel
Achilles, son of Thetis and Peleus, hero of the Trojan War, and most handsome of all heroes assembled by Plato to fight Troy, is well known to this day. Not necessarily for his achievements in life, but rather because of part of his anatomy. Achilles’ mom, Thetis, took her son to the River Styx and dipped him in the water believing that this would make him immortal. She held him by the heel, thus his heel did not experience immortality and became his weakness. He was killed when a poisoned arrow pierced his heel.
We have all heard of "Achilles' heel" and most know it to mean a weakness, a major weakness, that once discovered by an opponent, will lead to our downfall.
It appears abundantly clear to me that the existing computer infrastructure of the United States is turning into our Achilles heel.
We created the Internet, right? We embraced it immediately, right? We cannot live without it, right? We have completely and absolutely lost control of it, haven’t we?
I recently read an article that said nearly half a billion, (that’s a B, folks), electronic records have been compromised in the last six years.
I usually write about data breaches because they are an easy topic to write about and because there are so many. While on the topic of data breaches, here’s a list of schools that suffered data breaches recently:
University of Wisconsin, Purdue, UNLV, North Carolina State University, California PolyTech @ Ponoma, Missouri State University, University of Hawaii, and the famous little school down there in New Haven, CT, YALE.
I have long said that the identity of a student is very valuable. Now it turns out that 43,000 YALE staff, faculty, alumni, and others who were “affiliated” with the University back in 1999 have to look over their shoulder for a while. How’d you like to be able to assume the identity of a Yale graduate? Think you could make that work for you?
This post is not about any one data breach, it’s about them all. We are at a critical juncture in history. Our country has totally committed to the Internet. It has become an integral part of every business, every family, every school, everything… It was truly amazing to watch the Internet grow up. Making it work was always rule number one. Making is secure was irrelevant. This needs to change.
What will trigger this change? I am hopeful that change is already underway. Our military gets it, they know that the Chinese have been invading us, virtually, for a long time now. They’ll likely be able to lock down their data and so long as they don’t make the same idiotic mistake of putting a Private so close to an extreme amount of critical, classified, data, (see generally: Bradley Manning), they’ll hopefully achieve their security goals.
If the military gets it, who’s left? Well, we have the rest of Government, the business community and individuals.
Will increased regulation be the key? Will a requirement to notify people in the event of a data breach be enough incentive to take security seriously? This author says its time for a wake up call.
We will have to wait and see if: 1) any meaningful regulations are made law, 2) enforcement of the regulations actually occurs, 3) if the justice system takes the offenders to task for their hacking activities, 4) if the European Union simply shuts the United States off because they are disgusted with our data privacy controls.
We are in the age where privacy has become diluted, the effects of which could be profound.
Returning to our friend, Achilles... did you know that without your Achilles' tendon you can't walk? I do. Your foot just sort of tangles from your leg. I just had surgery to reattach mine, which I hope explains where I have been for the last few weeks.