Cyber Security and Its Impact on the Economy, Technologies, and the Military |

Cyber Security and its impact on the economy, technologies, and the military will captivate our innovative efforts for the next twenty years or more. There are so many challenges in each individual area that one cannot actually expect to address each one in detail and give it the respect it is due. However, I will attempt to draw out some discussion items of interest and let you decide which one is more important or are they equal to balancing each other on this topic. But first let’s look at the definition according to Merriam – Webster which states “cyber security is measures taken to protect a computer or computer system (as on the Internet) against unauthorized access or attack. So how does that impact when we address the three topic areas of this discussion: economics, technologies, and the military.

First let’s evaluate how cyber security is used in the economy. I have extensive knowledge working with computers, networks, systems, cyber security, software, and several years working in financial process so I feel I can give a fairly good analysis of how technology impacts the economy. I’ve done personal study of how technology compliments financial processes in the 21st century and how Cyber Security plays a huge part in the daily business of banks. From what I understand, companies can’t even get loans if they don’t have viable and active programs operating within their companies believe it or not. This is to ensure that any financial or information transactions in general are guaranteed that when transmitted by electronic means are secure and non repudiation from release to delivery. Encryption of all transactions is the norm for all business deposits and withdraws from accounts along with all credit card transactions is encrypted. Everything within banking where transactions are digitized for business Cyber Security must be prevalent. But in order to make this work you must have technology that is current and processes that work with the economy. This brings me to my second point, technology.

Technology is the foundation for Cyber Security but you must have solid processes for them both to work effectively. You just can’t hook up your technology to a system and expect it to work not knowing what process you expect as an end result or what process you want to effect in delivering Cyber Security. There are many technologies out there ranging from hardware systems to software applications and even web services that can provide all sorts of Cyber Security needs for the user. The key to all this is understanding what the user needs, what information they want to protect, how they want to protect their information, who they want to have access to their information, how they want to give access to their information and by whom, and how do they want to monitor the security of their information. The list goes on and on from here for the user. The dynamics of setting up the foundation of the technology of Cyber Security can get pretty intense when you think about where you want to go with just this topic. All aspects I mentioned beforehand such as hardware, software, and web services can deliver all the requirements I stated above and more however, it comes down to what the user wants and ultimately the cost. This leads me to my last point of this article, the military.

The military and Cyber Security is an area of great concern and innovation. It’s an area that is and only will be driven by the Defense Budget which it looks like with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 will finally get its due. In the previous decade, this effort has been funded mostly out of baseline efforts since its difficult to justify information technology reductions while increasing the cost Cyber Security acquisitions. This program has reached a level of importance where information on the Internet, unclassified network, or other networks used by the Federal Government and Department of Defense has become so critical to protect that funding has reached a high priority for the President. Our military is now engaged in unprecedented efforts to secure our unclassified and classified systems like never before to protect against malware, viruses, and exfiltrations so critical information will not end up with people or nation states that could do us harm. Cyber Security is extremely important to all our weapons systems or any system where information is needed for a decision and that is why it is now a top priority of our military. Information in the wrong hands could do any nation grave harm in today’s world.

In closing, Cyber Security is an evolution of a series of technologies that have grown together into a global phenomenon that will put information everywhere securely as long as we can pump bandwidth anywhere in the world. I once told a general that we’ll achieve our goal when I can send you a signal while you are in an outhouse in the desert and I’m in a cave in the Amazon jungle sending you photos and emails. He laughed, but that was just a few years ago. I look back and we’re beyond that point now.

Managing Technology Within An Organization |

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” – From the HAL 9000 computer, 2001: A Space Odyssey

When it comes to technology solutions for your business it is easy to get carried away with the latest-and-greatest gadgets and solutions. Everyone wants to have the latest shiny thing. In larger organizations, managing technology can become burdensome due to competing and duplicative technology requests. Left unfettered, the company technology platform can resemble a “spaghetti bowl” over time. Often is the case, new technology requests are submitted without any business case to support their investment.

I am a big proponent of having non-technology business leaders play an active role in the determination of the technology solutions utilized at an organization. While it is critical to include an IT perspective from a technical interface standpoint, having non-IT personnel drive technology solutions often lead to decisions based on thebusiness needs of the organization. As such, any technology request would require a business plan to support the investment.

Form A Technology Committee: This is the start of your technology approval process. Create a technology committee that represents various personnel from cross-functional departments. Consider selecting an operations, marketing, accounting, technology and finance member to this team. This committee is charged with creating the process for submitting technology solution requests for the organization as well as providing the prioritization and ultimately, approval of the requests.

Develop A Submittal Process: Inherent in a well-thought through technology strategy for an organization is developing a process for the submission of ideas. Following the “garbage-in, garbage-out” mindset, developing a detailed process for submission will help weed out the “nice to haves” and focus the committee on real, tangible solutions. This process should not only include the technology solution identified, but as importantly, the business case for its justification. For approved projects in the queue, a monthly communication should be sent to the organization recapping the activity of the committee.

Focus Your Projects: A technology committee creates focus throughout the organization. While it would be great to have every new iteration of technology that gets released, that is impractical and costly. The committee can help with providing a high-level perspective on the entire enterprise since it is considering all requests. All to often, departmental requests have a tendency to be created in a silo, with only the impact on that department considered.

Need To Have Vs. Nice To Have: This is a biggie. It is easy to feel that an iPhone 3 becomes obsolete as soon as the iPhone 4 is released, but when the technology is run by the committee, the “nice to haves” usually fail due to a lack of business case. The committee allows the organization to run with an unbiased interference with respect to technology. The committee is charged with improving ROI on technology solutions and since it is comprised cross-departmentally, there should be no “pet” projects.

One Project, Big Picture: I have headed a technology committee in the past and the greatest “aha” moment for me was the amount of similar technology solutions that were being presented from different departments. Had all of these requests been accepted, the organization would have overspent IT dollars as well as created duplicative solutions to the same issues. The committee allows for its members to “rise above” the fray of the organization and view the technology requests in the big picture. The committee’s goal was to ensure that any approved request was accretive to the overall company.

Create A Business Case: This is the best way to clear out the clutter. Ask employees what they need from a technology solution and the committee will be inundated with ideas. Ask them to submit in a business case (cost justification for the investment) along with their solution and ideas are significantly reduced. The business case for a technology solution not only helps in identifying whether the investment is worth it, but also forces the author to think about how this solution interfaces within the existing platform.

Post Analysis: Lastly, carefully measuring the business case proforma against the actual cost/return of the projects not only holds the submitter responsible, but also the committee. The goal with the post analysis isn’t to “call people out”, but rather provide an unbiased financial review of the project. Without this type of post analysis measurement to hold this team accountable, the committee eventually will serve no purpose.