No More F.U.D. (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) about Cyber Threats

I’m fed up. Better yet, I’m “F.U.D.-ed” up.  In every cybersecurity conference, in every threat report, in every blog and every bit of cybersecurity marketing literature I see one tiresome theme:  “The bad guys are after us!  It’s getting worse every day!  How will we fix it?  Can we fix it?  There’s no magic bullet! The cyber sky is falling, run for your cyber life!”  In other words, an unrelenting stream of– Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.

It’s time to change that mindset. In cyberspace, we are fighting a war: a war against common criminals, a war against terrorists, a war against organized crime, a war against all kinds of extremist ideologies. But you can’t win a war with a losing mentality, and you can’t swell the ranks with soldiers by telling a story of defeat. So, enough F.U.D. Let’s focus on winning the cyber war.

America’s birthday is right around the corner, so let’s celebrate by considering the amazing resources at our disposal in America, and how they could combine to spell out victory in cyberspace. (Fair warning: I WILL be bragging about the U.S. of A).

1. A History of Invention

We’re Americans; we invent stuff.  It’s what we do, and we’ve been doing it a long time. Think about Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Robert Fulton, Eli Whitney, Henry Ford, Samuel F.B. Morse, Jonas Salk, and Alexander Graham Bell, to say nothing of modern inventors.  Look at the moon some night:  Americans were there first – and we are still the only people to have landed there. Americans came up with the microprocessor, Internet, the cell phone, and most of the technologies that change the world and permeate our lives.

2. Entrepreneurship

Our inventors thrive in a culture of entrepreneurship. Most of the world’s major tech companies are American, and there’s a mile-long list of small companies eager to make their mark.  At a recent conference, I learned that in just one year, over 700 new cybersecurity startups had come to life.  That’s almost two per day, 7 days a week, in cybersecurity alone.   Many will fail, but the best will succeed and support the fight against the hackers.

3. American Colleges and Universities

In higher education, particularly when it comes to technology, America simply rules.  According to one authoritative source, 23 of the world’s top 25 universities are American; 112 of the top 200 are here in the U.S. We don’t send our best and brightest overseas for higher education; instead, their students come here. We absolutely have the best schools, the brightest minds, and the most dynamic educational environment right here in this little strip of land between Mexico and Canada.

4. Spirit of Service

The U.S. military – the world’s strongest -- consists entirely of volunteers (a salute to all of you!). An all-volunteer military depends on a spirit of patriotic service – which we have in abundance in America. This dedication and patriotism fills our military ranks, and will surely do the same in the realm of cybersecurity.

5. Money

Despite all the complaints about our economy, we’re still the richest nation on earth, with staggering financial resources to bring to bear on the cybersecurity war.

Put it all together: a history and culture of invention; a dynamic business environment; the world’s best universities and the brilliant minds they nurture; a national spirit of service; and tons of bucks.  The bad guys are hopelessly outmatched. To beat them, though, we must focus on our advantages, not our weaknesses. Let’s replace fear with courage, uncertainty with confidence. We CAN win this war, so let’s get our minds right, and do it.