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The Balance of Humanity and Technology in Cybersecurity

The gathering of great minds in cybersecurity during Cyber Security Asia 2021 sparked many exciting conversations surrounding the efforts that are being made to keep humans secure online. Among such discussions was the talk that kickstarted the second day of the two-day conference by Chris Cubbage. The Director & Security Advisor at MySecurity Marketplace Australia presented a workshop titled ‘Leading Innovation in AI, Prescriptive Analytics & Data Science with Security Application.

          

In his session, Chris discussed the scope of security advancements ranging from physical to cybersecurity. Summarising the level of progress that has been made, he states, “Just having an understanding of AI and the pathway that we are on in terms of operational sort of Artificial Intelligence and machine-learning, we’re definitely here in terms of that operational analytics. We have descriptive analytics and diagnostics analytics. So we have hindsight in terms of what happened in terms of descriptive analytics, we have insight into what happened and why in terms of diagnostics analytics. And we’re now moving into the advanced analytics stage as well.”

Touching briefly on AI and big data use in cybersecurity, the focus of the session was centred around its real-world applications extending to physical security efforts helping law enforcement ensure human safety. Chris fascinatingly discussed the current advancements that have been made with video analytics used to monitor and identify wrongdoers and suspicious activities. These tactics also bring about a whole slew of privacy considerations. Overall, the session was enlightening as it explored the uses of deep learning that allows for advancements in technology relating to surveillance, automation and biometrics. 

On a slightly shifted stance, the proceeding session by Col(R) Dato’ Ts Dr Husin Jazri, the SVP of Cyber Security at Serba Dinamik Group BHD, focused instead on the human factor. With a talk titled ‘The Weakest Link in Cyber Security,’ Dr Husin discussed whether humans are really the weakest link in cybersecurity or if the problem lies in the lack of human consideration. Starting his presentation by saying, “I’m going to describe something very important here, in a way that we need some human intellectual capabilities and expertise to man all those technological dimensions that have been described by Chris.”

The dilemma of whether technology will inevitably take over our jobs and lives is always a significant concern. But what needs to be considered is that the use of technology simply shifts the demand for human workers. As the editor of the E-Security and Privacy Channel (ESPC), he introduces the initiatives that they have taken to assist cybersecurity officers working in the field to gain their certification equivalent to their masters and PhD. In his talk, Dr Husin presented some critical points regarding how the technology-driven focus of cybersecurity solutions today may not be enough to protect humankind in the future.

Dr Husin describes the current situation as stagnant, with cybersecurity professionals acting as fire-fighters to the suffering victims of the increasing cybercrimes. To remedy the situation, Dr Husin calls for an additional layer to be added on top of the original 7 in the OSI model. This 8th layer, known as the human layer, will theoretically balance the role of people, processes and technology that were considered in layers 1-7. His argument on the matter is based on the thought that as we create more technological solutions, there will always be different problems and deficiencies that will stem from their creation which perpetuates a never-ending cycle that does not address our long-term cybersecurity concerns. Limitations of the first seven layers lay mainly in the technical-centric perspectives that they centre around and their complexity as they are not catered for proper human comprehension leading to gaps vulnerable to attacks. With the 8th layer, the number of cybercrimes can hopefully be reduced as some sense of importance is given to the human solution. 

Regarding the relevancy of this to the current cybersecurity landscape, Dr Husin comments, “Why do we need all this? Why do we need to think about this? Because in summary, if we don’t think about this in the long run, I think the digital world will be chaotic. Once the digital world becomes chaotic, and there is no balance between the dark side and the good side, I think it will result in destruction.”

The combination of the two talks was enlightening to see the balance between the influences of technology and humanity on security. 

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