Tell someone that you work in information security and the usual response might be something like: “Oh really? That’s…interesting…” The ghost of enthusiasm rears itself, only materializing when you finally resort, quite sensationally, to explaining the threat of cyber-terrorism and e-crime. Right! Now you’ve got them. It’s time to pepper your spiel with tinsel terms like ‘cutting edge’, ‘innovation’ and, if you dare, ‘vanguard’. Now look at yourself, you’re the object of a nervous admiration; your subject wishes that they knew enough to indulge you on such an interesting subject, but alas, they can only ‘take your word for it’.
Whilst this outcome can often be frustrating, it is also important to recognise and appreciate the benefits of working in such a specialised field. Every so often a political event, worthy of mass media coverage, comes along and opens up a discussion on a perilously neglected subject. One such event of recent months has been the Wikileaks saga as information security quickly became big news.
The media scrambled to gain some sort of understanding on how sensitive data, of the highest classification, could possibly be leaked onto a public forum. The story and interest then began to snowball as reports of something called ‘Hacktivism’ began to appear in all media formats. A group calling themselves ‘Anonymous’, operating behind the sinister visage of ‘V’ from Alan Moore’s dystopian work ‘V for Vendetta’, began to launch DDoS attacks on websites and organisations that either publicly denounced Wikileaks, or refused to process donations and support the whistle-blowing site.
‘…there’s the rub’
The rise of hacktivism reveals something quite unprecedented about the current socio and global-political zeitgeist. This is prominently defined by the current debate on whether high-level information is fit for public consumption – in the interest of national security – versus the right of citizens to have access to the dealings of their government.
So, the tide is turning for information security. Whether you regard Wikileaks as an important, epoch defining moment in history, or a debacle of the highest order, the fact remains that it has become a public and political concern. Future elections may be won on such issues, as IT is now widely recognised as being a particularly 21st century concern. One need only regard the ongoing ‘net-neutrality’ debate in the US to see just how important the field of IT has become in the political sphere.
What it meant for us
When the Wikileaks story broke it wasn’t long before our clients were being snapped up by reporters. Notable coverage included CNN and BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today Programme’, along with hundreds of articles and mentions in various top publications. This was further evidence that IT security is no longer just an occasional ‘flavour-of-the-month’, and has instead become a subject of public and political discourse. As technology advances at a rate incomparable to that of any other field, so too will the demand for experts and IT professionals to explain the process. Feelings of insecurity – as well as real insecurity – are the teething problems of the technological age, so providing experts to translate the complexities into a common language is to provide a vital social service.
So say it loud and say it proud. If you’re lucky enough to work in the field of information security, you are – without conceit – a bona fide guru of the modern age. Here at Eskenzi we believe that securing technology is the path towards safeguarding the future; a message that we are proud to spread.