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Kevin Benedict

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Mobile Technologies and the Risks to the Global Economy

Mobile Technologies and the Risks to the Global Economy

Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves. ~ Genesis

I have a sizable collection of books in my library, if fact I have a tower of books in my office that is a danger to small children.  Many of the books are on the topic of technologies and enterprise strategies for using technologies that I have collected over the past 27 years.  I get an adrenalin rush from connecting ideas and new technologies together.  I also know that 27 missiles can destroy our entire global GPS system, and 2,465 missiles could destroy every active satellite in orbit.  I fear that private and government sponsored hackers could bring down our markets, transportation systems, communication networks, financial systems and utility grids.  These are the things I fear.

For all the good technology supports, it also exposes us, (See Flights Disrupted After Computer Failure at UK Control Center) and makes us vulnerable to new kinds of attacks and accidents.

Philosopher and Urbanist Dr. Paul Virilio said, "To invent something is to invent an accident. To invent the ship is to invent the shipwreck; the space shuttle, the explosion. And to invent the electronic superhighway or the Internet is to invent a major risk which is not easily spotted because it does not produce fatalities like a shipwreck or a mid-air explosion." ~ An Interview with Paul Virilio." in: Apres Coup Psychoanalytic Association. January 2005.

Today, however, fatalities can be the result of problems with the Internet and associated systems (http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/us/2014/12/12/nr-dnt-feyerick-cyber-security.cnn.html). We have placed nearly all of our systems of importance on the Internet and into the cloud.  Our military runs on a network centric strategy and our economy as well.  Cyber-attacks today are a most serious thing.

Dr. Virilio identified the fact that all new technologies include guaranteed accidents.  It doesn't mean we don't pursue them, it just means we need to acknowledge the associated risk, prepare for and manage it.

I am disturbed by the near constant successes hackers are having in their attacks on our financial and payment systems and the theft of our personal data.  When will this become a true priority for "C Level" folks?  It is not just their own businesses CEOs are risking today, every interaction and transaction connects businesses to individuals.  Our personal data is now intimately tied to the companies we do business with, and as recent events have proven our data is now in real jeopardy.

In a world where our data is currency, the protection of our data is vital.  It is a personal and national security issue.  We need a manifesto that declares the importance of data to global economies and puts in place actionable steps to protect and secure it.

"The original industrial accidents as, for instance, the derailment of a train or the crash of an airplane, were all specific, localized, and particular accidents. They were taking place at a certain place and at a certain moment in time. Now, however, the revolution of instantaneous transmissions brought about by telecommunications makes the accident global." ~ Virilio Paul and Andreas Ruby (Interviewer). "Surfing the Accident." in: Institute for the Unstable Media. Publication "The Art of the Accident." 1998. (English).

I have seen steps in the right direction.  Earlier this year the United States military designated certain kinds of cyber-attacks as "acts of war" that would be treated as such.  I am no fan of war, as I have a son in the military, but we must recognized the seriousness of attacks that cripple our country's infrastructures and economy.

I am a passionate mobile industry enthusiast, but problems with data security jeopardizes our progress. We clearly have a massive global problem that needs solved, and the solution is not just a series of small start-ups with clever technologies.  It is bigger than that.  It is an international economic and national defense issue.  It needs the highest levels of emphasis and collaboration.

We must change our perception that hackers are just bored teenagers and see them as attackers of our national infrastructure, economies, defense and societies.

We in technology must not blindly lead our customers into peril.  We need to be the vanguards of security and data protection or we are irresponsibly creating preventable accidents and risky vulnerabilities.


Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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Kevin Benedict serves as the Senior Vice President, Solutions Strategy, at Regalix, a Silicon Valley based company, focused on bringing the best strategies, digital technologies, processes and people together to deliver improved customer experiences, journeys and success through the combination of intelligent solutions, analytics, automation and services. He is a popular writer, speaker and futurist, and in the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries. He has over 32 years of experience working with strategic enterprise IT solutions and business processes, and he is also a veteran executive working with both solution and services companies. He has written dozens of technology and strategy reports, over a thousand articles, interviewed hundreds of technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries.