Information Security in the 21st Century
Information security refers to the practices that manage risks around information to keep it safe and secure. It seeks to reduce the propensity of unauthorized and inappropriate access to data, or the unlawful use, disclosure, disruption, deletion, corruption, modification, inspection, recording or devaluation of information. It also involves actions intended to reduce the adverse impacts of such incidents. Conventionally information security has referred to the preservation of information in all forms- be it digital or physical.
We are moving to a more digitized world where documents, identity proofs, and even currencies are being shifted online because of convenience in usage. However, growing digitization has also exposed our companies and governments to unprecedented threats in information security. The very fact that data is stored in serves or clouds implies that one only needs to access that server or cloud to retrieve that data. Hackers are often one step ahead of protection agencies, which have led to several incidents of data theft. Loopholes in information security have given rise to ransomware attacks and have made public systems more vulnerable. These risks are more pronounced in developing countries, where investment in information security and research and developments in the same field are nascent because of the lack of resources.
Information security is also a national security issue now. Cyber attacks that seek to compromise sensitive information have become more prevalent. The most adverse of these happened during the 2016 US Presidential Elections. Many experts believe that the election results swayed significantly because of different types of cyberattacks and information leaks by the Russian Government and Wikileaks. Four years later, the world is struggling to face the coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown has prevented people from moving from one place to another, effectively curbing their right to exercise the right to vote. The United States faces yet another election in these troubling times. Even though ‘mail-in-ballots’ are perceived as one of the best solutions to this crisis, information security surrounding those will make the democratic more vulnerable to manipulation by external agents.
Technology cannot be isolated from politics, business, or society. Information is power, which is why it is important to secure it. The 21st century has witnessed unimaginable developments in robotics, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. Many say that these have improved our standard of living, by making life more convenient and accelerating economic development. However, the developments of these technologies have also left some of our key institutions vulnerable to attack. This warrants investment in research and development that seeks to create more efficient information security systems.