Thursday, September 25, 2014

Does Cybersecurity affect E-Governance?

If you look around in our class you see an overwhelming dominance of laptops with a shining logo of my favorite fruit that someone apparently had one bite of. The operating system on those machines is considered to be very secure. "Why you'll love a Mac: We don't get PC viruses.". When I asked everyone in class to raise their hands if anyone had installed an anti-virus software I didn't see a single hand. To give you an idea why you SHOULD care about security although you consider your Macbook safe, let's make this more interactive here:

1) Press "cmd" and "space" simultaneously and type in "Terminal"

2) Copy and paste this text into the window that popped up: env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' bash -c 'echo DigGov14YourMacisaffected'

What does the outcome tell you? If you can read "DigGov14YourMacisaffected" then Congratulations, you just successfully tested your system for the so called "Shellshock Bash Bug".  I don't want to go too much into the technological details here, but I could theoretically take control of your Macbook (I won't don't do that, but I can't promise for other people out there) and do things you don't want to imagine. To get a sense of the dimensions here, just read through "Worse than Heartbleed? Today's Bash bug could break security for years", "Shellshock: The 'Bash Bug' That Could Be Worse Than Heartbleed", "Hackers Are Already Using the Shellshock Bug to Launch Botnet Attacks" or use #shellshockbug on Twitter.

So does Cybersecurity affect E-Governance? In my opinion, yes it does. Digital and political leaders should always be aware of the fact that the cyber realm is closer to the Wild West than to a safe children's playground. A digitally more open government will always face trade-off decisions in terms of openness and vulnerabilities or the abuse of open data. Just imagine the consequences of manipulated data sets that serve as basis for political decisions.

Should Cybersecurity prevent political leaders from expanding E-Governance? I hope it does not. Although one can imagine many examples that illustrate the dangers of a stronger connected world between citizens and their governments, they should always look at the net benefit from doing so. And there are at least as many examples that exemplify why everyone would profit from such a world.

I can't provide an answer on the macro level, but I can tell you what you can do on a micro level (and your Macbook):

1) Install Firefox, because it "is designed by Mozilla, a global community working together to keep the Web open, public and accessible to all". It is considered to be one of the safest, fastest and most adjustable browsers. You will need it for the following browser addons.

2) Install Adblock Plus to "surf the web without annoying [and dangerous] ads", HTTPS Everywhere to "encrypt your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure" and watch the video on Ghostery to tell you why you should prevent big companies from tracking everything you do (and buy) on the internet. You can also install NoScript, which is considered to be the most effective way to secure your browser, as it prevents flash plugins to auto-run, which pose one of the biggest threats when surfing the internet. Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that the latter is not very easy to use and takes some time to get familiar with.

3) Install Sophos Mac Antivirus, a free anti-virus software for Macs, that protects you from "all threats, even those designed for Windows".

All the software mentioned is for free and if you have any questions feel free to ask me in next week's class!

1 comment:

  1. Your design of the blog is really eye-catching. More over the content is also very productive. Information you have provided is really very beneficial.

    Website Design Company in Ilford
    Web Development in Ilford
    PHP Services in Ilford