Significance of Information Security – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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Protection of information, that is stored or communicated, has been one of the major concerns of mankind. Throughout history, various methods have been followed to secure information and ensure that it is accessed by the right people at the right time. The beginning of the era of internet (or ARPANET as it was called then) marked a new phase in information security field. Before the age of the internet, limited number of computers were networked and were used to support communication in academic research activities. Information protection was given less importance back then. With computers entering the daily life of people and with the inception of internet, information security became crucial. Today, information security is a domain which is treated with great significance by government institutions, organisations and businesses around the world which depend on internet for their daily operations.

Information Security in the Past

ARPANET, one of the first networks with about 60,000 computers used in research institutions and universities in the United States, was developed by US Department of Defence in the 1970s. It paved way for the emergence of internet. Back then, protection of information meant physical protection of the locations and the computer hardware from unauthorised access. As computers became popular in households and internet started connecting more number of devices, the importance of information security grew significantly.

During the 1990s, business organisations, apart from research institutions and universities, were one of the major users of internet facility for email communication and file transfer. This was the time when first viruses, that earlier spread through floppy discs, started gaining access to more systems as the internet usage increased. Computer security companies, which were just born then, started developing products that acted as a barrier against security breach threats. One of the first Firewalls that protected internal computer networks against external threats from the internet was launched in the market during mid-1990s by Check Point Software Technologies. With the applications of internet expanding and computer networks becoming more and more sophisticated, newer methods of encryption (such as the SSL protocols) were introduced to offer protection to information.

Significance of Information Security Today

With changing technology landscape, the threats too have evolved in the past two decades. Information security breach incidents cost in millions of dollars to companies today and are major concern for both government and non-government organisations around the world. Recently, WannaCry, a ransomware that hit systems, had caused major damage where more than 100 countries were affected. Organisations today are considering a systematic approach towards information security and are relying on latest technologies that can prevent an attack. They are focusing on identifying vulnerabilities and taking appropriate steps to reduce them.

With more devices being connected to one another through the concept of IoT, IT departments will bear greater responsibility to ensure protection of IT assets from security breach incidents, going forward.

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