The thought of having our identity stolen scares us to death.
It’s costly, painful, and can take many agonizing years to fix.
That’s why there are entire cybersecurity industries to help keep your bank accounts, credit cards, passwords, medical records, and other important information safe.
Now imagine the stakes if a multibillion-dollar business is involved, whether it is direct theft of information or of proprietary, secret, and highly valuable research and development information.
I want to talk with you about cybersecurity today because of an unusual joint appearance between the head of the FBI and the head of MI5, Britain’s FBI counterpart. It was both jarring and sobering. FBI Director Christopher Wray bluntly warned business leaders that their intellectual property is in danger of being stolen…
The Chinese government is set on stealing your technology – whatever it is that makes your industry tick – and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market. They’re set on using every tool at their disposal to do it.B
I alerted my readers to this threat more than two years ago. At the time, it was estimated that China steals more than $300 billion of intellectual property from the United States every year… all of which harms our national security and impairs the economic value of our intellectual property.
In today’s digital age, data and our handling of it have evolved into the ultimate source of economic power. Losing that data to cyberattacks means losing power and competitive strength.
At the most basic level, almost every form of cyberterrorism is a form of theft. It steals our wealth… our liberty… our sense of security.
Cybersecurity these days means a lot more than just running antivirus software on your desktop computer. Defending ourselves from cyber-intruders has become a way of life that encompasses almost every facet of our daily existence.
That’s why cybersecurity has become a major investment opportunity.
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Increased Cybersecurity Threats Require Increased Spending
Companies and governments around the world are spending hundreds of billions of dollars trying to stay one step ahead of cybersecurity threats, which became even greater as more people worked from home during the pandemic.
“Cybersecurity now dominates the priorities of every organization as each adapts to a post-COVID-19 world,” Forbes reported. “Remote workers’ identities and devices are the new security perimeter… In a post-COVID-19 world, cybersecurity is as critical as internet access itself.”
Yearly global cybersecurity spending is on track to rocket nearly 50% from 2020 to 2025. And it’s not hard to imagine that an increasingly technological world will produce ever-growing demand for cybersecurity solutions.
The term cybersecurity describes a broad range of proactive protections and reactive defenses – all of which try to thwart a specific cyber threat or combination of threats.
The first-generation cybersecurity tactics were usually add-ons to an existing hardware or software platform – kind of like building a wall around an existing house. But many next-generation tactics incorporate cybersecurity from the ground up. Rather than circling a house with a wall, they attempt to build an impregnable castle.
Increasingly, this castle-building process requires made-in-America components, just to be on the safe side. And there is a lot of building left to be done.
In this decade, countries and corporations around the world now spend more than $150 billion a year on cybersecurity, according to research firm Gartner. That number is on track to soar to $270 billion per year by 2026.
That’s because cyber threats are growing by the day.
As far back as 2014, congressional testimony from the FBI stated that virtually every national security threat and crime problem the FBI faces is cyber-based or -facilitated.
That testimony, entitled “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland,” sounded remarkably similar to this week’s statements eight years later:
We face cyber threats from state-sponsored hackers, hackers for hire, global cyber syndicates, and terrorists. They seek our state secrets, our trade secrets, our technology, and our ideas – things of incredible value to all of us. They seek to strike our critical infrastructure and to harm our economy.
Given the scope of the cyber threat, agencies across the Federal government are making cybersecurity a top priority. The Department of Justice, including the FBI; the Department of Homeland Security; the National Security Agency; and other U.S. Intelligence Community and law enforcement agencies have truly undertaken a whole-of-government effort to combat the cyber threat.
One year after these remarks, Admiral Michael Rogers, at the time director of the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command, cited some of the cyber threats that concerned him the most from a national security perspective. Among them…
- Cyberattacks that do infrastructure damage – “It is only a matter of ‘when’ that someone uses cyber as a tool to do damage to the critical infrastructure of our nation,” Rogers said. By that, the admiral meant the electric grid, railroad switches, traffic control systems, nuclear power plants, and more.
- Data manipulation – “Historically, we’ve largely been focused on stopping the extraction of data and insights, whether for intellectual property for commercial or criminal advantage, but what happens when suddenly our data is manipulated, and you no longer can believe what you’re physically seeing?” he said.
To cite one hypothetical example, cyber attackers could take airplanes on- and off-air traffic controllers’ screens. That false data could cause “risk-based decisions” to go catastrophically wrong.
Cyber threats have only intensified since the FBI and Admiral Rogers aired their concerns half a decade ago. FBI Director Wray has stated previously that the bureau has “now reached the point where the FBI is opening a new China-related counterintelligence case about every 10 hours.”
We hear a lot about needed infrastructure improvements to our roads, bridges, electrical grids, and more. Cybersecurity is similarly a critical infrastructure need and a smart investing opportunity as the whole world tries to make the information superhighway more secure.
Defending ourselves against cyber threats, which are both amorphous and invasive, is no small task. And with all of the money needed to combat the threats, it’s no small opportunity either.
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