“Information is being called the new oil in terms of its economic value but, it better be called the new oxygen,” said Dr. Patrick Gallagher, as he spoke of the solutions for cyber-security during the Session on Cyber Security, organised by Ananta Centre titled, ‘Are we cyber-secure enough? on 8th May 2019 in Mumbai.

Dr. Patrick Gallager, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh was the keynote speaker and the session was chaired by Govindraj Ethiraj, Founder, BOOM, IndiaSpend and Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellow.

The session focused on cyber security on concerns such as protection against cyber-attacks and malicious actors that are interested in stealing or disrupting data. This also included issues of cyber bulling, intimidation and even fake news.

The Two Worlds of Information

The library of Congress in the United States is the largest library in the country and has 20 million books in it. The amount of information going into the internet every day is about 250,000 libraries of Congress. And 90% of the information on the internet is only three years old stated Dr. Gallagher, Chancellor.

The Chancellor was describing the world on ‘information abundance’. A world which began around 2007 with the first smart phone, internet expansion resulting in no requirement of expertise to find information. Almost four billion people are connected by a device to each other and to even more data than imaginable.

He described pre-2007 as the world of ‘information scarcity’.  One that needed physical libraries for storage and collecting data was hard work and experts had to be trained to be knowledgeable about it.

The Trio of Roadblocks

Dr Gallagher said that one of the reasons cyber security is so hard because it is tackled using the same methods that were used when we were living in an information scarce world whereas we are living in an information abundant world.

Dr Gallager spoke of three key roadblocks that hinder cyber security:

Firstly, Collection of Information. In an information scarce world, in order to achieve security, the information was looked at in the manner it was collected. However, in an information abundant world, there is no control over the collection any more. The idea that we can protect ourselves by controlling collection is not feasible.

Secondly, Expertise. With readily available access to the internet, expertise has changed. During the ‘information scarce’ days, the only people running the internet were a small community of governments and scientists.  Hence, the notion of security was quite different. Now, security means financial information, personal social networks and address books, behaviour, location, thoughts, preferences and other sensitive information which is available extraordinarily broadly. Moreover, almost every approach to securing data has been borrowed from property law which doesn’t work with this borderless technology.

Lastly, Dependency. Dr, Gallagher pointed out that information is the new oxygen, it is the fuel behind almost every aspect of life. Entire economies are based on the movement of information and trust. He emphasized on how, information is pervasive and moving into areas that defies imagination and expectations.

Cyborgs: A Reality?

Finally Chancellor concluded that the real fixes are not going to be some technological breakthroughs but rather it’s going to be how humanity co-adapts to live alongside machines.

It’s will affect humanity; how we are taught , how young people are trained, all social structures are going to be affected by this technology and technology is going to be affected by the fact that it works with humanity.

He stated that a human-machine system is being created and the idea of ‘cyborgs’ is no longer an idea science fiction.

Watch the full session here:

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