In Mexico I learnt that the world will NOT end in 2012 yet I’m not so optimistic about the state of cyber security.
It’s always nice to go someplace new, especially when that place is sunny Mexico.
As much as I’d like to say that I don’t mean to boast, I honestly do! An all expense paid trip to Cancun, Mexico is definitely worth talking about (until of course I’m tired of talking about it).
Cancun is best described as a picture on a postcard – with bright sunshine, pristine beaches and scrumptious food. Add the luxury of the Ritz Carlton Hotel and the hospitality of the team at Kaspersky Lab (special mention, the company’s CEO, Eugene Kaspersky) and you have the formula for a perfect business and pleasure trip.
What really left an impression on my mind was our trip to Rio de Secreto, a distinct and alluring nature reserve, which gave us an opportunity to explore the underground river with its unique crystal museum.
The tour through this underground river (600-meter route full of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites) left me feeling the closest I’ve ever felt to Mother Earth.
If this wasn’t enough, I actually got to sit down and talk to a Mayan priest (while my fellow journalists speculated he would use me for a human sacrifice). The old and shrivelled priest walked me through some of the most fascinating details about the Mayan culture and their infamous calendar.
Here’s what I learnt from the Mayans.
The world will not end on the 21st of December, 2012.
The Mayans had several calendars, 17 to be exact. The calendar that has steadily drawn global attention since 1987 is called the Tzolk’in or Cholq’ij, also known as the Long Count calendar, which is reset to ‘day 0’ every 1,872,000 days, a period known as ‘The Great Circle’. The next reset date, by some calculations, is December 21, 2012, which according to the Mayans represents a new age of transformation.
He explained to me that the beginning of this new era will result from, and be signified by, the solar meridian crossing the galactic equator, and the earth aligning itself with the centre of the galaxy.
“At sunrise on December 21, 2012 for the first time in 26,000 years the Sun will rise to conjunct the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic. This cosmic cross is considered to be an embodiment of the Sacred Tree or The Tree of Life, a tree remembered in all the world’s spiritual traditions. Some observers say this alignment with the heart of the galaxy in 2012 will open a channel for cosmic energy to flow through the earth, cleansing it and all that dwells upon it,” he said.
So yes, the world will not end. In fact, we will witness a sort of reincarnation or rebirth of the old spirit of humanity.
I took these thoughts with me to the Kaspersky conference titled 2012: IT Security in the age of Cyber warfare and the discussions at the conference couldn’t have been further away from the Mayan priest’s pronounced optimism.
While many of my peers thought that the word ‘war’ was too harsh, my feelings were in tandem with many of the international security experts gathered at the conference.
The fact is, the Internet provides a channel of communication that is difficult to monitor and even harder to regulate. Over the years, cyber criminals have taken careful steps to create advanced attack mechanisms that hide in the most elusive corners of cyber space to prey on innocent victims surfing the Web.
Today, technology and the Internet are being used by the public sector, government and regulatory agencies, private corporations and even individuals for everything, from storing their date to automating tricky operations for increased efficiency.
It is only natural that nation states begin to amass these advanced tools and technology to alter their defence strategies or even for espionage. Imagine being able to bring down a nuclear plant or a key electric grid using these tools and you’ll understand why nation states would want to invest in hacking and breaching mechanisms.
Therefore, I believe, a state of cyber war is no longer restricted to works of fiction. Very soon, this situation may be all too real.
Like the development and healthy functioning of a country depends on its citizens, I believe cyber security is the responsibility of all those individuals using the Internet (cyber citizens). We need to stop underestimating the threats the wide expanse of the Internet exposes us to. More importantly, we need to be aware.
We really need to learn from all the security breaches the year past (PSN, RSA, HP Gary etc) and ask ourselves what happens if our organisation is breached, or if our financial details are stolen and a hefty amount of our savings disappear overnight?
Answer these questions and you will truly understand the statement “better be safe than sorry”. Yes the 21st of December 2012 may cleanse earthly souls and bring about a reincarnation of the old spirit of humanity, but I really doubt that the cyber criminals or hacktivists out there will suddenly up and end their game. So while you choose to believe this bright and appealing Mayan prophecy, I’d still recommend investing in some good security software.
For those of you who need more convincing, I hope you find a reason to invest in security software before a greedy cyber criminal finds you.
Check out the pictures from the trip to Cancun, Mexico with KaskperskyLab on http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.295695883824471.68759.133663736694354&type=3