According to FBI Director Robert Mueller, ‘cybercrime will eclipse terrorism’. Further to that, Jonathan Evans, Head of MI5, spoke publicly for the first time last week, raising awareness of how the two types of attack combine in cyber espionage. The comments are timely as extensive preparations for the Olympic Games near completion this month; Evans describes the event as ‘an attractive target’ but ‘not an easy’ one.

Influence and learn

MI5 has identified to what extent cyber espionage is taking place and where online vulnerabilities exist. Meanwhile cybercrime continues to rise; a proportion of the global population have already made their decision to misuse the freedom and possibilities offered by the Internet, but it’s not too late to influence future generations away from potentially damaging behaviour.

Children and young people represent the group most adept at using the Internet to fulfil their immediate and long-term needs. Their aptitude and enthusiasm for digital life is a resource that we can not only learn from but positively influence. Their future development in a constructive and positive direction requires our encouragement and support: education is fundamental, and it requires security experts to step up to the mark. We must also not overlook the fact that Generation Y is entering the workplace with open and receptive attitudes that have the potential to be exploited.

Follow suit

It’s time we took a leaf from Mr Evans’ book when looking to address situations where security is weak and uncertainties exist around what constitutes correct behaviour. MI5 has assisted with checking half a million people as part of the accreditation process; this suggests the effectiveness of vetting and acts as a reminder that such a process is straightforward to apply in the workplace.

Role to play

MI5 is utilising social networks as intelligence gathering tools in its fight against terrorism and other crime. This is understandably met with controversy from the public, or ‘the innocent bystander’, however everyone has a role to play in countering malicious activity; even if this means making known to the authorities the comparatively insignificant existence they choose to document via Facebook.

Cybercrime and terrorism are two very real threats and MI5 recognises what is at stake; ‘government secrets, the safety and security of our infrastructure, the intellectual property that underpins our future prosperity and commercially sensitive information’. Protecting the last item on this list probably resonates most with the majority, and it’s a good place to start when attempting to change behaviour for the better.

The foundation of good security isn’t secret intelligence or a responsibility exclusive to MI5: it’s something we’ve all got in common. Talking about it helps us see its relevance, so start the discussion today and we’ll benefit from the change tomorrow.