Protecting what’s ours in the new cyber age

Protecting what’s ours

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cybersecurity conceptWith all the talk about hackers hacking the National Security Agency’s hacking division, it’s a good time to reflect upon the other aspects of privacy — by which I mean protecting our privacy as individuals, corporations and governments.

There’s a lot happening in this space; and regardless of your feelings on the matter, the fact is it’s part of our reality.

To those of us who go back far enough to remember going to work and not having a computer on our desk or in our briefcase — remember briefcases? — it sometimes seems like the world has been turned on its head in the new cyber age.

Beyond Snowden’s revelations, we’ve seen for a while how technology has surpassed the mindset of some of our institutional systems. So we can’t rely on them.

The fact is cybersecurity and information security (infosec) are crucial. And too few in government, corporate leadership or even suburbia take it seriously, even today.

The U.S. military is just getting around to taking the issue seriously. Corporations are starting to realize that compromised data is very expensive to clean up — much more expensive than protecting it in the first place.

And this is years after real evidence of cyberwarfare has been used in a number of countries around the world.

The Edward Snowden revelations by Wikileaks are simply one example of how information can be accessed too easily by too many people, with unseen consequences for everyone.

Part of the problem has been that the urgency of stepping up infosec has come at a time when most organizations and individuals have been belt-tightening, not looking to spend large sums on a generally abstract threat. It’s a hard sell, but incursions are occurring exponentially more often and they’re more sophisticated.

That’s why it’s always helpful to see what the defense sector is up to, since their budgets are usually less prone to the vagaries of economic realities (for good or bad).

A glimpse of the future

One of the best places to look for the next generation of thinking for such problems is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). You know, the folks who pretty much invented the Internet.

BASF (BASFY) is one of big players in the work DARPA is doing. And it’s a good company, despite it’s recently beaten down stock price. I’ve been saying for years that this chemical and materials giant is the DuPont of the 21st century.

A niche player in this space is Applied DNA Sciences (APDN). It delivers counterfeit protection, brand authentication and combats product diversion; and it offers its programs against cash-in-transit crimes, using the proven forensic power of DNA.

Counterfeit parts is a huge issue in the defense industry as well as in high-end textile manufacturing and many other industries. This company “tags” products with DNA to verify their identity and protect global supply chains from imposter ingredients and products.

This could be a big takeover target in coming years as big military contracts get thinner and value added tech services like this get bigger.

What’s more, high-end consumer brands like clothing companies are also looking into the technology to authenticate their merchandise from the cheap knock-offs you find people selling on many major city street corners and online.

— GS Early

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