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Governance in the digital world

Governance is critical to ensure security in the more vulnerable digital world.

With our world fast becoming more virtual and less real, security is as much a scare there, maybe even more than in the real one.

Internet penetration and usage of on-line applications for day to day lives is increasing and becoming vital for any economy. The increasing number of devices connected to the Internet, make our daily transactions easier, but create newer vulnerabilities. Every passing day brings bigger and more destructive data breaches, impacting lives of common people, and damaging the reputation of enterprises.

Recently, an extremely notorious botnet was brought down by the concerted efforts of security research companies and law enforcement across various countries, but this is only a one-off case in an ocean of threats in the digital universe. We need much more strength to fight, and the reason we still can’t, is due to the lack of a governance process to tackle security issues in a focused manner.

Most states have no clearly defined borders in the digital world to implement their own data protection and cybercrime laws, as in the physical world. It is a fact that any individual can set up a server and send any kind of packet onto the internet space without any regulation, or an identity check. In fact, the digital world makes one virtually (pun intended) nameless and extremely difficult to track, and this only makes it tougher for law enforcement to locate and identify hackers. Lack of an ID and governance protocol is making hacking a huge business opportunity!

It is hence crucial that the digital world has clear governance rules, much like the physical world where we have passport and visa for border control and movement between nations/governing mechanisms. This may not be a fool-proof mechanism, but can bring some control to this chaotic situation. The technologies required for identity management already exist, but need appropriate implementation, especially one that enables them to handle large volumes of data and traffic. This also calls for Citizen Information being available in digital form with the government for identity management.

This step may create an Internet with boundaries, where most of the online traffic would be restricted to within the country and only certain traffic is allowed to go out and come in. Some people may think that this is restrictive but this may be the only way to reduce hacking and other security threats.

Having this clear process and strict governance in place may then be the only way out for countering the constant threats that makes the greatest boon of the twenty first century –connectivity, our biggest threat.

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