Rich Crocco

Cybersecurity Follows Net Neutrality on National Agenda

Image via http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/technology/article/1753969/following-github-attack-obama-declares-us-cybersecurity
Image via http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/technology/article/1753969/following-github-attack-obama-declares-us-cybersecurity

A month after Net Neutrality regulations were approved by the FCC, President Obama took aim at another major internet issue, cybersecurity. Cybersecurity, or the lack thereof, has been receiving plenty of attention lately, from credit card hacking at Target and Home Depot, to theft of medical information at Anthem, to the Sony hack which was powerful enough to alter the release of a Hollywood movie. The internet is showing its growing pains as we all figure out a way to handle a technology the connects half the people on the planet.

Obama issued an executive order declaring a national emergency due to the threat posed by cyber attacks. The order gives the US Treasury the power to sanction “foreign actors who threaten critical infrastructure, seek to steal financial data or trade secrets, or launch distributed denial-of-service attacks.”  Denial-of-service attacks are characterized by nefarious agent(s) directing large amounts of web traffic towards a specific site or server with the intention of overloading and therefore disrupting service to that site or server. GitHub, an open-source code repository, was recently the victim of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and was one of the preceding events leading up to the executive order.

The President’s order allows the US Treasury to freeze assets and otherwise “financially isolate those who hide in the shadows of the Internet” according to John Smith of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. This is the toughest stand from the federal government we’ve seen to combat cybersecurity affecting citizens, corporations and the government alike. If you remember, step one of this process was the State of the Union address in January when Obama first made cybersecurity part of the National conversation. From that point, we have seen cybersecurity take center stage in corporate boardrooms, government regulations and universities beefing up their cybersecurity programs. With net neutrality and cybersecurity regulation, the free and open internet is following in the footsteps of other major telecommunications industries as it attempts to protect itself from corporate giants and cyber predators.

The voices opposing the cybersecurity executive order are generally coming from the same place as the net neutrality dissenters: since the internet branches out into almost every part of people’s lives, any oversight the government has over the internet results in government intrusion into our lives. The question is if the federal government isn’t fighting these fights, who will?

Cybersecurity is just getting started as a national issue. I expect to see more headlines as the new executive order results in action. If you’re looking for a career in information technology, cybersecurity might be the way to go!

Do you think Obama’s executive order was the right move for our protection? Please leave me your comments.

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