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Why Information Security Matters

Questions often arise about the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information when it’s communicated from one party to another, especially in the presence of a potentially untrusted third-party.

Why Information Security Matters
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We are bombarded with information from many opinions and resources in our daily lives. As the world becomes more interconnected, and accessible across a variety of technologies, protection of our information has never been more important than now.

Information plays a vital role in our lives, yet its protection is taken for granted. Information protection can be seen as tedious or less attractive than the prospect of gaining immediate access to new information ahead of someone else.

Australians access information across more devices, in more places, across multi-levels of security. This leads to data convergence in untrusted settings and elevates the urgency of agile confidentiality, integrity and availability for Australian information. The global coronavirus pandemic has forced Australians to think and act locally to participate globally.

We must prioritise the value in privacy protection, our trust in sources, our confidence in what we see, read and hear, our participation in local and global affairs, and the security of our possessions in the digital and physical worlds.

Interconnectedness: blurring lines

The Twenty-First Century proliferation of information has both challenged and improved individuals’ security in the world. Human security issues are now communicated as they happen, leading to a blur in the difference between global and local issues as well as a blur between national and individual security issues.

Access to information, information security and the importance of protecting sensitive, authentic, and accessible information is influencing these blurred lines.

Consider how many passwords you use in a standard day, and how many times you cringe at the need to update each one. Or worse still, how many passwords shield your personal information that you don’t update regularly? In how many instances across professional and personal access mechanisms do you use a variation of the same password? What would it mean if your own password formatting was unravelled across all types of information that you access daily?

Malicious access to information is increasingly sophisticated. The criticality of sophisticated information protection cannot be understated.

A global pandemic, the impact of natural disasters, the protection of digital personas in cyberspace and freedom of movement in space have now joined the traditional physical factors of national security at home, at sea, and in the air. The extent, frequency and mobile flow of information provides the connection to issues of national security and the impact they have for citizens’ daily lives.

Sovereignty and cyberspace

The emergence of cyberspace changed the national security paradigm. The traditional well-established concept of sovereignty in a physical sense has shifted to a new, more modular physical-virtual (or digital) concept.

The role of the individual, in what was previously chess games between states, is different. Individuals across the globe now place value in information protection. People are universally prepared to pay for an enhanced experience where they can confidently communicate with whoever they wish, trusting that the information they are communicating is as they intended with whom they have intended.

Global participation in international affairs relies on information authenticity, accuracy, and timeliness. Australians must access contemporary information protection mechanisms to project a reputation for secure information exchange. No one is more interested in Australia’s information protection than Australia.

Information as a commodity

A market for commercial protective services that provides trust has emerged with the proliferation of digital media. This reflects the widespread availability of information relating to all aspects of our daily lives: financial transactions, personal health identifiers, personal correspondence, commercially and nationally sensitive information.

The commodity of information is not new, but its sheer prevalence has elevated its significance in the pursuit of advantage through international competition.

With the commercial dominance of Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google and other contemporary digital media multi-national corporations, security has (re)arisen at the intersection of how individuals, corporations and governments address the source and messaging of information.

There is an emerging tension between what is too much information versus what is not enough. What is authentic and well-sourced versus opinionated, false or malicious and what is private, sensitive versus freely available including information that is of the public interest.

Application of Cryptography

A critical function of protecting information at all levels along with authentication (eg passwords), is the application of cryptography.

Contemporary cryptographic algorithms and their application represent some of the leading advances in computer science and technologies. The implementation of encryption to protect information is critical to assurances of its confidentiality, integrity and availability.

Amid the information security challenges across the globe, Australia has its own protection of sovereign-information challenges. At the heart of Australia’s contemporary information resilience, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is operating across all levels, for: personal, commercial and national information protection.

The ACSC’s Annual Cyber Threat Report 2020-21 advises there is, “a cyber-attack every eight minutes, compared to one every 10 minutes the last financial year.” Ignoring the likelihood of more cyber incidents occurring that are unreported, it is reasonable to assess that information protection in Australia is both increasingly important and increasingly strained.

Australia’s informational value is tied to our nation’s prosperity. Individuals, corporations and national public institutions rely on information to advance the country’s standard of living, trade and sovereign security.

The contemporary threat environment demands Australia’s techniques, tools and practices applied to the protection of information must be more agile, policies must be more robust, locally developed technologies must be more sophisticated, and sovereignty must be upheld.

Author: Mycaila Delbridge, Strategic Partnerships, Penten

Mycaila is part of Penten's Business Strategy team working on a range of contemporary security technology challenges through commercial and public sector partnerships. A veteran with almost 20 years experience in the Australian Army, she holds a Masters in Cybersecurity Operations and a Masters in Security & Strategy. Mycaila lives in Canberra with her family.

Penten is an Australian, cyber company focused on innovation in secure mobility, applied artificial intelligence (AI) and tactical communications security.

In 2019 and 2020 Penten was awarded Cyber Business of the Year at the Australian Defence Industry Awards. In 2021 Penten won Emerging Exporter of the Year and Exporter of Government Solutions in the ACT Chief Minister’s Export Awards.

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