Another group taking advantage of the confusion and lack of understanding in this arena are large lobby groups working on behalf of the defense and weapons industries. It is in the interest of these lobby groups to highlight the threat from online based attacks and look for governments to invest money and resources in this area.
All of the above operators are creating what I see as a perfect storm of confusion and mistrust, which I believe will cause great damage to all computer and Internet users. Overhyped threats and a lack of understanding of the problem will lead to overreaction by governments as they respond to the threat de jour as presented to them by the lobby groups. In the effort to appear to be dealing with these perceived threats, governments may introduce new laws that may not only fail to solve the problem, but will also negatively impact our privacy and online freedoms. We can already see this happening with lobby groups representing media organizations. They are successfully pushing laws dealing with copyright changes in order to protect their industries while legislation such as the Convention on Cybercrime - which could help address a lot of the issues we face - is ignored.
To counter this, the information security community needs to step up and provide the leadership required to ensure we maintain the security of the Internet while preserving our freedoms and rights. We can no longer afford to let others such as vendors, lobby groups, or politicians drive the agenda.
So I ask each of you to use whatever influence you have to ensure that those making policy decisions, whether in business or otherwise, are properly informed of what the real issues and preferred solutions are. Engage in a positive way with others, especially those outside our community, using blogs, social media or commenting on news stories so they are better informed on what the real issues are. In addition to all this, we also need to speak up when vendors and other interest groups overhype an issue for their own gain, and challenge their assertions. Finally, contact politicians to point out the threats that we face from criminals, badly thought out legislation and lobby groups forcing attention away from the real issues.
The Internet is a fantastic place, let’s take make the effort to ensure it remains that way.
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