12/18/18
Brice Bunner
Data Security

Cyberwar is turning into actual war, and it affects all of us

    

Image ©: MediumYou can give me all the anti-malware in the world, but there will still be some hacker out there—or perhaps some government institution—looking to sideline my surfing without my consent. But more terrifying than that prospect is the fact that, as we continue to progress with technology, more of these undocumented security breaches are being developed—and their reach is not limited to the average user.

What isn’t online these days?

Okay, so cybersecurity is more important than ever, so what’s the big deal? Well, if it were simply bank accounts being hacked, that would be one thing. A detrimental thing, for sure, but with everything going online and into the cloud, things like medical equipment, utility grids, and police databases are all vulnerable—which could up the ante from dollar signs to vital signs.

When critical equipment or life-systems are open for some nefarious doer to hack, lives are put in danger. Even when the hack is meant to be a prank, things can go south in a hurry when the wrong people are put in the wrong place. This recent article shines a harsh light on the grisly details of one such event, and that was just one angry kid acting out. Imagine what level of destruction a terrorist group could bring if they wanted.

Cybersecurity has been an ever-evolving industry that often seems to be a step behind the most elite hackers, and often can be undone by some internal negligence. How important, then, that we find an external source to help maintain a decent amount of security. More robust regulation—and even universal ruling—needs to be in place to give the common populace security with its daily digital operation.

Civilization isn’t safe from itself

This problem of cybersecurity becomes a universal one the more connected we become. Things like autonomous vehicles and facial recognition software—two of the most talked about technologies of 2018—are just asking to thrust every citizen into a compromised position unlike anything in the whole of history. Cars that could be hacked to be at someone else’s command, or facial recognition that is used to profile people; this is about the security risks of what our civilization is opening itself to.

I think something this significant bears having airtime. Though, I admit this can get depressing, the goal is not to cause panic or make us afraid to use technology—heaven knows we have enough fearmongering as it is. Rather, the intent of this post is to keep us sober in light of technology that seeks to wow us and woo us repeatedly. As the holiday season rapidly approaches, many of us race to purchase new gadgets, eager to explore what new convenience or excitement they can bring us.

Keeping a nimble mindset to dealing with security traps allows the common user to reduce the potential harm that could be done on their digital health. While the solution to these major problems of cybersecurity are being worked on, we need to be appropriately dubious. Dubious about the new technology we purchase, as well as dubious about the technology we might be retiring.  

Sustainable thinking helps with security

It’s true that we are a sustainable company to our core. You can see how deep it goes just by looking at our investment partner, Wendy Neu. But there is another thing that thinking sustainably does for our business. It helps us be mindful of security.

By helping businesses disposition, resell, or donate their end-of-life IT assets—rather than just shredding hard drives like most ITAD companies do—we are forced to look at ways of maintaining a secure facility and set of processes. This, we have done with excruciating effort to ensure any data we come in contact with is locked down and 100% secure. Both digitally and physically.

It’s this second factor that is probably the most overlooked way at maintaining a water-tight security with your business’s data security. All the firewalls in the world won’t keep data safe if it has been removed from your facility and lost in some logistics scramble. Unfortunately, this can often happen when dispositioning devices with non-certified recyclers. We go into why that is in several other articles, but for this post, the idea is that keeping data quarantined until it is 100% erased is the most secure way to handle your business’s data.

Where sustainability comes into play is in how electronic devices are typically handled. If your end goal is to shred the device to secure it, then security is often lax. The intrinsic value of the device has already been devalued, so why should the data on it be any different? But, when you know the device you are retiring still has a lot to give, then the stakes on everything from the mouse to the microprocessor are considerably higher. More care is taken, and data security is paramount.

This may not have much bearing on the first part of this post, but in thinking of your devices as having the incredible potential that they do, hopefully, you will be less vulnerable to the attacks that we’ve discussed in this post. And, while the world is destined to be as interconnected as it can, at least you know there is more to cybersecurity than just firewalls and malware; there is a physical component as well. The more you keep that in your sights, the more secure all your devices will be—for the entirety of their lifecycle.

About Sage

Sage Sustainable Electronics leads the market in sustainable IT asset management and disposition (ITAD) by reusing more and recycling less. Every year, businesses retire millions of used-but-still-useful technology products, creating the fastest growing business and consumer waste stream in the world. We strategically and passionately help companies reuse more and recycle less than anyone else in the industry.

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