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Security and the Networked Society- An in-Depth Look at Humanity in the Digital Age

Dr. Mark A Gregory is an award winning professor teaching the next generation of Australian engineers. Having released more than 100 publications, his book Security and the Networked Society provides a refreshing view of the intricate complexity of cybersecurity today. And he has kindly agreed to share the first chapter with vpnMentor readers.

What's inspired you to write this book?

Motivation for writing the book came from the rapidly changing security and privacy environment in the early 2010s and how society grappled with the rise of cyber security threats. In many countries, including Australia, there was a general lack of debate on what Government should do to educate users and to prompt companies to rise to what was happening and to take steps to protect consumer information.

What new knowledge have you gained while researching for the book?

Whilst carrying out research for the book there was an opportunity to learn how people were becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of security and privacy, how this led to Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections becoming a mainstream consumer product and how this open and free environment led to an increase in cyber crime, hacking and the rise of Anonymous as an online vigilanty organisation.


The book Security and the Networked Society can be purchased in ebook format online from Springer.

Below is the first chapter of the book.


Chapter 1- Introduction

During man’s history, the advent of technology has been pivotal in driving grand transformations of society. The Industrial Revolution (1760–1820) however, occurred over more than a century and affected predominately western civilization.
The personal computing and Internet revolution has in 30 years produced a far greater impact and on a global scale.
This revolution has accelerated after connecting potentially every human being on the planet to each other over the Internet through portable devices. We now share more with each other than at any time in history. Companies facilitating this transformation were not in existence 15 years ago and we are still witnessing their full impact as their platforms and products enable uprisings and revolutions of their own.

With the advent of the pervasiveness of mobile devices and the interconnectedness of the Internet has come with it the darker side of hackers, cyber criminals, cyber terrorists and the general threat of cyber war.
Governments have struggled to create legislation and formulate regulations to bring order to the online world whilst protecting the essence of the Internet that has made it the invaluable resource it has become. This essence, to some brings anonymity, privacy and security. For others these same attributes displays a lack of an effective government and law enforcement presence leaving the door wide open for criminal activity to flourish online.

World actors including nations, international organizations, terrorists, and vigilantes have all exploited the Internet to further their own ambitions. Information theft, leaking of personal and national secrets, tax dodging, price gouging and law breaking have all occurred as a result of the growth of the Internet.
The Internet has also brought hope, education and awareness to the masses.
Through the Internet people around the world can learn about and influence events as though they were actually physically participating. Governments have a role to play in promoting the use of technology whilst ensuring technology does not become a vehicle for criminal activity.

Sound government policy is often a tradeoff between consumer and business interests. Careful preparation of legislation and regulation provides certainty.
Failure by government to update legislation and regulation in a timely manner can have catastrophic consequences because technology advances occur frequently and subsequent advances in cyber-warfare and cyber-crime keep pace.
A key aspect of society’s use of technology has been the tradeoff between access to applications and customer security and privacy. Government, security agencies, business, and other organizations are now collecting data as quickly as possible and in ever increasing amounts. How to manage this data avalanche has become known as big data and mining for information has become a growth industry.
The progression of the technological revolution that is happening around us is not even. Drawing links between signature events sometimes only have relevance after the fact but at each juncture, the relevance and meaning of an event needs to be described and placed in the context of the day.

This collection of articles attempts to do exactly this. The articles were written because they captured significant events that reflected, shaped and defined trends and movements involving technology and society. We have grouped these articles into chapters that refl ect attributes the articles share. This however artificially separates events that are in fact linked. The rise of Anonymous as a hacking/activist collective for example defi ned our understanding of this movement. But hacktivism is intertwined with cyber-crime, cyber terrorism and government, and everyone’s use of the Internet. This in turn reflects the pervasiveness of the Internet in every aspect of our lives.
The period of time that this book covers saw several signifi cant events occur. There was the rise of Anonymous, LulzSec and others who redefi ned the notion of groups of people with a common cause and who drove hacktivism to be a global phenomenon. At the same time, cyber-crime continued its inexorable rise and companies and governments struggled to deal with it. Distinguishing cyber-crime from cyber war was another recent problem. Ongoing state-based cyber-attacks were recognized for the fi rst time and have now become part of the realities of using the Internet. From the consumer perspective, the move to mobile eclipsed the desktop PC for the fi rst time and smartphones rapidly approached dominating the mobile phone market. This move coincided with the rise in social media use with platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ bringing into question this new mode of interaction and sharing. Personal privacy became a central issue underpinning a general move by companies taking advantage of knowing as much about their users as possible whilst battling any attempts to remain anonymous.

Finally, this period of time saw Apple become the most valuable company in the world, fueled by sales of it mobile devices. That a technology company should become the most valuable company is not surprising considering its relative impact on society. Exactly how this has come to be is another thread in the narrative that follows.


M.A. Gregory and D. Glance, Security and the Networked Society, 1
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-02390-8_1, © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

About the Author

Ditsa Keren is a cybersecurity expert with a keen interest in technology and digital privacy.

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