Exploring—and Improving—the Fundamental Strategies of Cybersecurity

After a thorough examination of the Internet’s development, and the security weaknesses that were encoded into it, The Digital Big Bang pivots to map out the actionable strategies and tactics needed to effectively protect data today.

In “Section 3: Fundamental Strategies,” author Phil Quade explains the challenges of authentication, and the strategic necessities of encryption, access control and segmentation. He is joined by leading cybersecurity experts—including Taher Elgamal of Salesforce, Erik Devine of Riverside Health, Colin Anderson of Levi Strauss & Co, Dan Boneh of Stanford, George Do of Equinix, and Hussein Syed of RWJBarnabas Health—who draw from their real world experience protecting the mission-critical data of brands and businesses in B2B, B2C and healthcare environments.

Quade explores the power of cryptography and encryption—an ancient form of information protection that is as close as cybersecurity gets to a silver bullet. But while it is remarkably effective against brute force cyberattacks, will encryption be able to withstand the relentless innovation that brings quantum computing closer to reality every day?

For all the concern generated by quantum’s ability to break encryption, Elgamal writes, it is not the most serious threat we face. “There is no denying that quantum computing could undermine some of today’s encryption standards,” Elgamal writes. “But we should focus on actual cryptography challenges that are occurring now. Solving them makes us immeasurably more secure than we are today and will also inform and catalyze the development of the type of agile cryptography we need.”

For IT leaders focusing on the most critical strategies to implement today, Levi Strauss & Co’s CISO Anderson has some straight talk: “In cybersecurity, effective segmentation is often what determines whether your company finds itself on the front page of the Wall Street Journal or the back page. That’s because, for the past several years, the importance of segmentation has been written in headlines. Without segmentation, your entire network is only as strong as its absolutely weakest point—and once that point is compromised, attackers have the ability to go on quite a walkabout.”

But navigating highly segmented and encrypted networks requires a deep understanding and deft deployment of access control. Erik Devine of Riverside Health explains why.

“The growing number of users, devices, and applications that are demanding access to network resources is a challenge many IT teams are struggling to manage,” Devine writes. “The healthcare industry is a perfect example of the rising volume of access control challenges many organizations face, not only because their network environments are so complex, but also because poorly managed access can have serious consequences.”

In his view, we need to reduce the burden on the users by simplifying access control, translating human needs into technologies that can keep up with digital demands.

“Each of these fundamental strategies has been able to build from straightforward basics to solutions with intense levels of tactical sophistication,” Quade says. But he cautions against taking their resilience as a given. “Together, they have been extraordinarily effective tools against cybercrime. But like all defenses, they weaken over time, especially in the face of rapid, consistent innovation. The first step to strengthening them is understanding why they are essential."


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