The Technium

Your Security is My Security

Speaking to the world, I care about how good the security of your machines are. Are they easily hacked? Not just your computer, but any device. If your webcam, or toaster, or light bulb is online, connected to the grid, I care if it is secure.

Why? Because the security of a network is only as good as its weakest link, and we are now running a global machine. That global machine, made up of your devices and yours and yours, is the machine I use. Everything connected to this global machine is on MY machine. Every device connected is linked to all the other devices. Therefore the security of everyone is hinged to the weakest security on the lowliest thing. That might be a connected pencil that could be hacked. If someone can hack a pencil they can use that exploit to hack into a drawing tablet and from there extend into an OS, and from there into the network. The weakness of one small point can ripple across the globe and affect me directly.

In that way security on a network is equivalent to pollution coming from a small source. If you pollute the river, you effect everyone’s drinking water. If your small device is hackable, everyone’s network is hackable. When the network is a big as the world, then my security depends on your security, and thus your security affects all security. Just as we collectively police the river for pollution so we, the commons, have a duty to regulate your security. Your security is all of our business.

That regulation might take the form of some minimum standards required to connect. If you can’t prove your device is up to minimum standards you can’t connect it. If you are the device maker, you can’t sell it. If you break the security minimum you are booted off, or fined, etc. In effect we would treat a security break like a public health breach. Until you can upgrade your devices to the minimum required standard of security, you are quarantined.

This system, or even mindset, does not exist yet. We are in the wild west days when anyone could pollute the commons without consequence. But in the long run we’ll realize that security is not an individual circumstance; it is a mandate for society, and will be treated in a more social and networked manner. Your security is my security.


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