Cybersecurity Is the Challenge of the Hour

Ronaldo Lemos´s weekly column

published in

26 de December de 2021


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The attack on the Ministry of Health and other government networks is a glimpse of what’s coming in 2022

We have reached the end of the year, the perfect time for “best of” lists, and for making predictions for the coming year.

In the area of technology, we can see some turbulence ahead of us. In fact, it is no longer possible to talk about the “area of technology.” Since contemporary life has become permeated and mediated by technical devices and tools, anything that happens in this area affects everything else.

The hot promise of the moment is the so-called Web 3.0. The term indicates an even deeper decentralization of the Internet. The enthusiasm for this idea stems from the success of cryptocurrencies. They ended up building new autonomous infrastructure on top of the Internet itself, in the form of several distinct blockchains.

The premise is: if a blockchain infrastructure can be used to mine and offer virtual currencies, why can’t it also be used for everything else? We’re talking food delivery and mobility services, digital identities, banking, media services, and so on.

All these would be decentralized and based on distributed models of trust.

Web 3.0 has enormous potential, including generating a new wave of disruption in various industries. However, it can also cause myriad problems, even more complex than those we are facing now.

And this is where I disagree with writer Shoshana Zuboff. In her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, she highlights the problems that the centralization of the Internet in the hands of big techs has led to. However, the blind spot is precisely the problems that a counter-movement of decentralization of the Internet can bring about.

The world we are living in is rather complex, so we must face the social implications of both centralization and decentralization simultaneously.

In turn, the challenge of the hour is cybersecurity. The attack on Brazil’s Ministry of Health and other government networks hinted at what may happen next year.

Digital attacks have become a political tool. Since their authorship is virtually untraceable, such attacks can easily be used for manipulation, fostering campaigns to spread fear, doubt, and uncertainty, and advancing crooked political agendas.

Incidentally, the fact that the federal government has been reforming the institutional framework of cybersecurity in the country has drawn attention.

The most relevant change is the concentration of powers in the hands of the Institutional Security Office of Brazil (GSI). Since 2019, the body has become the effective and central coordinator of the country’s entire cybersecurity policy. The events of the last few weeks, when the digital platforms of the Ministry of Health were down for more than 13 days, coupled with attacks on critical infrastructure such as the Federal Police, show that the change has failed.

The principle that one shall not hold power if one does not know what to do with it is elementary. In other words, you cannot raise a sword if you don’t know how to handle it.

Unfortunately, the cybersecurity policy in Brazil has gone belly up and its institutional framework must be reformed once again. Unless it is politically convenient that the shameful episodes of the last few days continue to be repeated in the coming months.

Let’s wait and see.

Happy 2022!


What’s out Making plans for the new year while expecting a certain stability
What’s in Make plans for the new year while expecting a margin of uncertainty
What’s next The need to expect the unexpected

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