Fresh insights on the information age and cybersecurity

Here are key findings, fresh insights and a review of different types of businesses in the tech world, and cybersecurity feedback from a recent TIA gathering of tech leaders and cybersecurity professionals.

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In June, I attended the TIA Connectivity Jam in Dallas, where I participated as a panel moderator and table ambassador on the topic of cybersecurity. The discussions were engaging and informative, and they introduced new ways of addressing the future of IoT, 5G, smart cities, data management, our workforce and more. Here, I share some fresh insights from the event related to the big-picture question of where the information age is taking us, along with the pressing challenge of securing our networks.

A five-category method for identifying industry leaders

I was fascinated and enlightened by the "Information Age" keynote delivered by Southern Methodist University professor Dr. Shervani, who offered a forward-thinking approach to understanding companies and identifying industry leaders in the information age.

The five types of businesses in the information space, as he described, fall into one or more of these categories:

  1. Pipeline – Includes the information pipes, such as wire, satellite, connectivity, cable, wireless, radio, etc. (e.g., Comcast, Dish AT&T, etc.).
  2. Distributors – Includes companies that have platforms, bundled devices and software, and primarily store and deliver others’ content and products (e.g., Spotify, Netflix, and others).
  3. Content – Includes original content creators (e.g., EA, DreamWorks, etc.).
  4. Data Mining – Includes peer-to-peer platforms enabling the exchange of data and information to uncover private information and assets (e.g., Uber, Bitcoin, etc.).
  5. Entities – Includes distribution providers that use “connected intelligence” embedded in devices and entities including IoT and connected machines/devices (e.g., Google’s Alexa, Samsung’s Bixby, Robotics, etc.).

Companies playing in three or more of these categories, such as Amazon, are leading the industry, Dr. Shervani said.

Robotics is not a threat

Dr. Shervani also noted that labor will become an increasingly smaller part of our work day as we shift our focus to designing and making tools that enhance labor productivity and efficiency. Perhaps of comfort to many, Dr. Shervani asserted that robotics is not a threat, due to the decreasing overall global population, and that humans will need robots to keep up with production demand.

Cybersecurity in today’s age demands bridging the skills gap

As part of the TIA Connectivity Jam, I moderated a panel session on securing networks, devices, and the workplace, and leveraging the NIST framework to set the stage for better, more proactive planning. The discussion featured an esteemed panel of business and government leaders representing organizations such as Harris County (Houston), PWC, SEI, and Aviall, a Boeing company. As part of the session, we jumped into collaborative groups to explore key issues even further – this was one of the important features of the TIA conference, to engage the senior-level audience in a give-and-take that would result in actionable next steps.

Our conversations led to consensus around the fact that there is an existing skills gap in obtaining and hiring a workforce that can meet today’s business and government security needs. In order to address this skills gap, participants recommended industry collaboration with local or national schools and universities, updating curriculum to focus on cybersecurity in the workplace, and ensuring continuing education is available to promising students.

On the flip side, session participants agreed that we should also be open to hiring skilled professionals who may not necessarily have an advanced degree, but may be just as well equipped, if not better equipped, to take on cybersecurity positions. Other participant recommendations included the following:

  • Continuing Employee Education – Ensuring all team members have an understanding of key definitions and terms, recognizing that security is a business issue not an IT issue.
  • Cyber Attack Planning – Establishing an escalation plan that the entire company adopts and is aware of in the event of a new threat or attack.
  • Setting a High Product Security Standard – Demanding more from your suppliers/vendors so that security is designed into the product.
  • Expecting the Unexpected – The reality is that many workers are the ones who are breaching and hacking networks, so always be alert for cyber-attacks from unexpected places.

These are just a few of the lessons I learned at the TIA Connectivity Jam, which examined a number of other issues with the same intensity and results-driven approach. For video of event sessions and interviews with speakers, visit TIANow.

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