What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Hey Everyone, Rob This House: The Cybersecurity Knowledge Gap

January 7, 2014, 12:00 AM
Robber

Would you use the password "password" for your home security system? Would you ever select the numbers "123456" for the combination of your bike lock? You might as well put up a sign that reads "Rob This House" or "Steal This Bike."

And yet, "password" and "123456" are, respectively, the first and second most popular passwords used to protect our computers. Of course, we all have many accounts and many passwords to remember. Bad guys know this. In fact, they know a lot more about cybersecurity than just about all of us. 

As P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman point out in their new book, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, the hackers are winning the "cyber world war," and this affects our entire way of life in the 21st century - from how we communicate with one another to how we fight wars. A generation ago, Singer and Friedman point out, this was the stuff of the Jetsons - a futuristic fantasy. Today, machines are not just omnipresent, but connected. By the end of 2012, an estimated 8.7 billion devices were connected to the Internet, a potential gold mine for criminals that is estimated to grow to 40 billion by 2020. 

How vulnerable is this gold mine? Singer and Friedman point out some sobering statistics. This one should catch your attention: "97 percent of Fortune 500 companies have been hacked (and 3 percent likely have been too and just don't know it)."

On the one hand, the cyber world war that is in progress represents an obvious national security challenge. "Weaponized computer programs" could disrupt entire industries and disable military networks. 

Singer and Friedman also point out that privacy concerns threaten to undermine the fundamental ideas of the Internet - that of openness, collaboration, innovation, limited governance and the free exchange of ideas. With fears of NSA monitoring already eroding confidence in the security of our personal information, Singer and Friedman describe our age as a time of "cyber anxiety." If nations, businesses and individuals all retreat in fear behind a "Great Firewall," such as the one China is developing, advances in economic development and human rights that we have seen from global connectivity could be seriously diminished. 

Part of the problem, as Singer and Friedman diagnose it, is that we have a "Cybersecurity Knowledge Gap." While today's youth are "digital natives" who grew up with computers, the world is still mostly led by "digital immigrants," especially at the most senior levels of management. These people did not even become familiar with computers until late in their careers. But this is not just an age issue. There is also another gap, as we tend to leave cybersecurity issues to the IT help desk. It is well known that the technically inclined speak a different language from the rest of us. The result? "Past myth and future hype often weave together," Singer and Friedman write. "Some threats are overblown and overreacted to, while others are ignored."

So how do we close the "Cybersecurity Knowledge Gap"?

P.W. Singer, a Senior Fellow and Director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution, will be in Big Think's studio this week to answer your questions. Please submit your questions in the comments below for our consideration.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

More from the Big Idea for Tuesday, January 07 2014

The Cybersecurity Knowledge Gap

If you are a "digital native," that is, someone who grew up with computers, you are probably somewhat savvy when it comes to cybersecurity. You are probably not nearly as savvy as you should be, b... Read More…

 

Hey Everyone, Rob This Hous...

Newsletter: Share: