Business & Technology
In just 50 years, the ability to share digital information has grown from a small, experimental academic project to a mission-critical component of nearly all aspects of modern society. For more than half that time, Fortinet CISO Phil Quade has been at the forefront of protecting that information. An expert in cyber intelligence, attack and defense, and a long-serving member of the National Security Agency, Quade knows what’s at stake.
“Digital connection drives our global economy, our energy infrastructure, our national defense, and nearly all aspects of personal and business communication,” Quade says. “The ability for all of these systems to function and deliver the services that modern society is now essentially dependent upon increasingly hinges on one thing. Cybersecurity.”
In his new book, The Digital Big Bang: The Hard Stuff, the Soft Stuff, and the Future of Cybersecurity, Quade provides a fascinating, insider’s tour of the past, present and rapidly intensifying imperatives of twenty-first century data protection. Part how-to, part call-to-arms, Quade pulls no punches when he analyzes the inherent shortcomings and blindspots of the early Internet, and makes a compelling case for a paradigm shift in the way we approach and even view information security.
“The early Internet was constructed to serve a small, tight-knit and primarily academic community,” Quade says. “Security and privacy were not part of the original design requirements. The ramifications of that are still with us.”
Because of the critical role that digital information serves in a functioning modern world, Quade argues, cybersecurity must be viewed with the rigor and seriousness of a science.
“Throughout history, you can see how we experienced disasters when we ignored or underestimated physics and chemistry,” Quade says. “And achieved our greatest breakthroughs when we harnessed elements like mass, force and energy.”
Quade sees the science of cybersecurity in similar terms.
“When we build our cybersecurity based on a complete understanding of fundamental elements and how they can work together, we can inspire scientific revolutions and evolutions in cybersecurity,” Quade says.
Those elements, at their most primary, are speed and connectivity. Utilizing them to the fullest effect is critical to an effective cybersecurity strategy. (They are also fundamental elements of all successful cyberattacks, Quade notes.)
“The Internet created a game-changing means to increase the velocity of information, and the speed at which business can be done,” Quade explains. “And it has consistently accelerated.”
As a result, achieving security that keeps pace with the velocity of information has been a consistent challenge. “If cybersecurity can’t operate at speed, users often simply turn off security features— leaving the network and its data vulnerable to attackers. To succeed, our security strategies must be based on doing things at Internet speed.”
The other essential element of the Internet—and, consequently, cybersecurity—is connectivity. When the increasing speed of information was harnessed to the robust connectivity of the Internet, it created a phenomenon of innovation, efficiency and collaboration. But it also created a level of risk and consequence never experienced before.
“Enabling and protecting safe connectivity to protect information is the core mission of cybersecurity,” Quade says. “The Internet is powered by the benefits of connectivity, but it has come with risk. The triumph of collaboration and connection coded into the Internet’s core has been manipulated to attack it. That’s why speed and connectivity are so primary.”
True to the spirit of collaboration that is imbedded in digital innovation, Quade is joined by some of the leading experts and voices in digital security. Spanning the fields of defense, energy, transportation, global finance and consumer brands, the book’s contributors provide insights and expertise earned by mitigating some of the most notorious cyberattacks in modern history—as well as preventing some chilling near-misses.
“Today, there is very little distance between cybersecurity and national, even global, security,” Quade cautions. “We can be reached at the most foundational levels by nearly anyone, from anywhere. Embracing cybersecurity as a science is not just an effective way to frame and understand the incredible opportunities and serious risks we face as a result of that. It is also a strategic necessity.”
Reserve a copy of Phil Quade's new book "The Digital Big Bang: The Hard Stuff, the Soft Stuff, and the Future of Cybersecurity."
Listen to Phil Quade discuss his new book on the Early Adopter Research Podcast with Dan Woods.