Does everything have to come to an end? According to Nelly Furtado, ‘all good things come to an end’. But how right is she? Is there something good in the world that is infinite? The earth seems to be finite; global warming underlines that fact. Life in general is finite, as people have not found the formula for immortality (yet). The end of the world, and well, the end of our lives; they are concrete and tangible. We know what may happen and probably know what it is going to look like. But what about the Internet? Is this all still the beginning? The end? Or the beginning of the end?
The Internet has been around for quite some time now. From my perspective, the Internet seems to be the only thing that is in fact infinite. Just like the universe, the borders are yet to be identified. The possibilities and online resources seem to be endless, and websites multiply and update every day. The Internet brings us closer together, however great or dangerous that may be. With endless possibilities there are advantages and disadvantages that need to be taken into account. Large parts of the current economy and society depend on the Internet and take place in a digital environment. The speed and level of connectedness are concepts that have never been seen before and seem to be increasing by the day. On the other side of the coin however, are the dangers that come with digitization of economies and societies.
Cybercrime is currently one of the main issues of our society. The issues range from smaller crimes, like phishing and identity theft, to the terrorist issues where hackers attack governments through cyberspace. This happened in Estonia in 2007, where the national infrastructure was hacked and the country was basically ‘offline’ for a couple of days. Several national and international initiatives have risen to the challenge to combat cybercrimes and cyberterrorism. In the EU, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) is one of those initiatives. This agency advises Member States to make, update or reinforce their national security strategies to defend themselves against cybercrime.
Cybersecurity has the image of being costly and having a negative impact on economies. However, according to ENISA, cybersecurity should be seen as an economic enabler as it provides a safe environment for transactions (and job opportunities for people in the field of cybersecurity). The cybersecurity market has an estimated value of 20.1 billion Euros, with an annual growth of 6% per year. However great this may be, the growth percentage is not nearly the 8% yearly growth of other markets (which they also try to protect). Realistically there is not much to be done about this by the Agency itself, as their budget is rather limited. However, individual nations (with their cybersecurity budgets and strategies) should be able to come a long way in securing cyberspace, with the aid and expertise of ENISA supporting them.
All in all there is much to be gained in the field of cybersecurity. With contemporary societies and technological developments evolving as fast as they do, there need to be security measures that are up to speed. In a concluding note I wonder if this is the Internet’s endgame. Of course there are so many positives, but the bad things that can happen to a digital infrastructure are so unimaginably bad that one should consider if it is all worth it in the end. Should we continue to venture down this road where the possibilities and boundaries are yet to be defined or should we approach with caution? I think that in a way, the Internet can be compared to the ocean. We think we know a lot about it, but deep down, under the surface there is so much more, to the extent of a neverending depth. Do we really want to see how dark it could get down there? I’m not so sure.
For more information on ENISA:
For the article by ENISA on cybersecurity being an economic enabler: