Evolution and the Internet

Will we ever be permanently safe from cybercrime?

I recently attended an industry conference that focused on the various challenges to mid-market companies ranging from regulatory and tax policy uncertainty to automation. There was a portion on cybersecurity that involved a presentation by two experts, one of whom was a retired United States Army officer. After the presentation, which involved a description of the growing multiplicity of threats, one gentleman in the audience asked whether there would ever come a point where we would be permanently safe from cybercrime. While this may seem like a ridiculous question at first, it was asked in good faith, and it got me thinking about the nature of the environment in which we operate.

Evolution by natural selection is a process without an end. In contrast to many systems of thought, it is not-teleological. There is no perfect form to which any creature is developing, merely shifting standards of fitness that are dependent upon the environment. Indeed, in the present, every creature is perfectly fit because it is capable of surviving, rendering any conception of “perfection” illogical when applied to evolution by natural selection. What began with a single-celled organism has grown into the amazing cornucopia of biodiversity that resides on our planet.

Birth of the Internet

The Internet came into being in 1969 when two computers were connected to one another and began exchanging information. Tim Berners-Lee revolutionized the concept with the development of the World Wide Web, which used the Internet to access web pages through the use of identifiers called URLs. What began with a simple act of connecting two entities has grown into the massive source of information and services that we know today.

What joins evolution and the Internet is the fact that their current incarnation could not have been designed or thought of at its inception. They simply emerged. Both of these processes are known as complex adaptive systems, a category of study that blurs disciplinary boundaries but focuses upon these unique systems and a new method of analyzing them.

Complex adaptive systems are present throughout the world. Evolution and the Internet are but two examples. The human brain, financial markets, and even cities are other examples. These systems are complex because they contain a number of elements all of which interact with one another, and they are adaptive because they don’t have any particular direction, they are not ordered from on high, but rather gradually shift with changing conditions and circumstances.

As a cybersecurity company, Jungle Disk operates at the nexus of these two complex adaptive systems. It’s what makes our work so interesting as well as deeply challenging. We don’t know how the Internet will evolve or how business strategies and environments will change, but we do know that they will change. We can either resist acknowledging that and pretend we live in a static system, or we can embrace the complex and adaptive nature of the environments in which we are situated.

Here at Jungle Disk, we spend a lot of time thinking about this. If we don’t embrace the world we live in as it actually is rather than how we’d like it to be, then we don’t simply hurt ourselves. We leave our clients vulnerable and that is not acceptable.

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