According to Google, cyber is an adjective “relating to or characteristic of the culture of computers, information technology, and virtual reality,” while cybernetics is “the science of communications and automatic control systems in both machines and human beings.” In the previous two cyber columns, warfare was examined with the conclusion that it not only the domain of nation-states, but is part of all competition when mortal combat is not included. It is competition among parties striving for a goal, position, or dominance. With the evolution of cybernetics, cyber warfare has emerged in the fourth dimension of war called cyberspace – “the notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs.”1
It is clear, at least to me, that dependence on computer technology (hardware, software, applications…) and electronic communication (cyberspace) will grow beyond what we can imagine. Consider that on August 1, 2017, employees at Three Square Market could have a chip injected into their hands to allow radio-frequency identification (RFID). This would allow security scanner to identify them and allow them to make purchases and use certain machines. While people can have great debates on the right, wrong, and value of such applications/inventions, they will be created.
Consider the following scenario, excusing what you might think to be fantasy. Every human on planet Earth receives a cyber-chip implant that can be accessed for personal information. It could be job history, medical records, traffic tickets and NATIONALITY.
You would no longer require a passport since your identity, visas and authority to travel would be stored in the supercomputer database system at world headquarters. While one can imagine many movie scenarios for such a system or environment, especially where world headquarters is the bad guy, think instead about the vulnerability of the data system and the channels of communications in use.
As our dependence on cyberspace grows, so will our need for cyber security – protecting computers, networks, programs and data from unintended or unauthorized access, modification or destruction. Sciencia potentia est, knowledge is power.2
Recently in the LA Daily Post, the grant to The College of Engineering and Technology of Northern New Mexico by the National Science Foundation for development of a cybersecurity concentration in its Bachelor in Information Engineering Technology degree program was announced. Congratulations to Dr. Crichigno and NNMC. This is a start for Northern New Mexico. Now let’s consider another, additional opportunity.
The development, teaching and learning of cyber security and its practices is a significant opportunity. As a community, Los Alamos (or your community) could become a major hub for cyber security education and research while expanding its contribution to the future of humanity and earth. While it could be achieved by governmental entities, it should be led by an independent entity. I argue that independence is required because of the vulnerabilities and needs of all – individuals, organizations, businesses, corporations, and governments. But most important, going back to Sun Tsu and The Art of War, we need Unity of Effort.
1 definition from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/cyberspace
2 Leviathan, Thomas Hobbs, 1597.