The Digital World: Opportunities and Threats

The Digital World: Opportunities and Threats


Alexander Bashkirov

Movement to “numbers”. beginning

Twenty years ago it was fashionable to think about itil, ten years ago the world was immersed in various as service. The service model seemed progressive – unlike the rather inflexible itil. after,
however, itil has learned to co-exist with the service (not the process of managing the level of service, but the model in which each unit provides services to its internal counterparts, but
the company to external counterparties).

All this was accompanied by an avalanche of performance of computers and their environment (remember at least nokia 3310 and modern smartphones: each of them is superior to personal
computers of that time by all characteristics). By the way, the first mobile phones made serious money, and the first computers – money very serious. Today is a modern “average” smartphone
almost anyone can afford. A similar story has happened with storage systems: from floppies, progress has made the move to hard disks, from hard drives to solid state drives, with
in a similar trend in value, from expensive and slow to cheap and fast.

In doing so, not only computing power, but also data transmission facilities were developed. The first networks were running at about 1 Mbps – the modern 10 Gbps are no longer surprising. So there,
Gigabit for home is a reality! Who remembers dial-up? It turns out that the modern mobile Internet is faster than the first backbone networks.

And there are many such examples. As a result, in a fairly short period of time (30 years is a really small segment in the scale of history), humanity has come to a situation where the cost of storage and processing
the data turned out to be so low that it moved from the “Favorites” segment to the “bulk” segment. And this has led to a radical transformation of the very concept of IT: from narrow specialization to
global education serving another education – the “number”.

We went, we went, and here it is – real!

What is a “figure”? This is the quintessence of the growth of computing power, media, data storage and processing.

The “figure” is distinguished by the fact that it is gently present in all significant aspects of human life. Think of a bank (by the way, an advanced institution in terms of technology) of 30 years ago.
Savings books, compulsory visits to the branches for each operation … Transfer of funds – compulsory filling of details. Withdrawal of money – printing in savings on a special
printer. What now? First, there are more banks. Secondly, each bank has its own online office, where most of the transactions are conducted without the participation of a bank employee! and operations
they run faster, and the error probability is significantly less due to various automated checks. “Under the hood” of these services is a huge computing cluster, storage system
data, bank branches are connected by a high-speed medium of communication. It makes no difference where the branch is located: for most operations, there is enough mobile Internet that
is almost ubiquitous. Moreover, the very concept of “service department” has become a “point of presence”. I’m sure when opening an account online, you least think to which one
it will be assigned to the branch. Maximum – in which branches will be found. In this case, online banking provides the ability to perform basic operations faster and easier than when visiting a branch. (By
I have gone to the office several times in the last five years, and almost always to pick up a reissued card.)

The situation is similar in other areas. Let’s take the simplest operation – buying tickets. Previously, this process was inseparable from visiting the cashier. Now the cash register is perceived faster
rudiment: online is faster and cheaper. (Especially since the cashier is likely to use the same online tools as a hypothetical buyer.) Or, for example, television.
Earlier analogue broadcasting was through special rigs. Today, digital television over the Internet allows you to watch anything and anywhere. Yes, the towers are still alive, but there is an opinion that
30-50 years, they will leave as a vestige of “antiquity of the deep”.

And the Internet itself has evolved in 50 years from an academic university project into a network that has spread around the world. It is hard to imagine life without the Internet, it has so firmly entered our daily lives.

In general, we can say that the world is rapidly and inevitably going “to the number.” Every industry does it as well as they can, but the overall trend is the same. At least because in the modern world without a “figure” is not
to live for no one. Even a small number of craftsmen make their own little figure (a website with a description of services and a price). Some go a little further and keep track of excel, others “crm” … In short,
To the best of our ability and imagination, it is a blessing that more than enough tools have been created for the least competent person.

The number and the little about now

And now about the most interesting. What affects our lives directly is about state databases. What they are – a fact, as they say, medical: take at least the same government services
or a tax website where detailed information about a citizen and many useful services can be obtained online without visiting agencies (some without visiting issuing authorities
service – the result will be online).

In addition to convenience, for the citizen it also means the need to have a minimum level of computer training. Without this and at least without a general understanding of online technology, “magic numbers”
will not be so pronounced: today there are offline branches of banks, ticket offices and government offices. (I am convinced that over time, these vestiges will shrink or disappear altogether
naturally, but not in the coming years 20.) But later, as online technology evolves and citizen literacy increases, there is a need for offline offices
public and private institutions will begin to decline. They are unlikely to degenerate, at least in the coming decades. But what offline offices of government agencies will be
significantly reduced (perhaps in favor of the notorious “presence points within walking distance”) is an undeniable fact for me.

All of the above has its “dark side”. Where the “figure” reigns, the role of the human being in relation to data and process changes. I’ll explain. “Digit” requires careful handling of data. IN
ideally for critical information it is necessary to predict neither much nor little catastrophe. And this is a separate and very difficult process that requires complex technical solutions. for
start – you need to determine which data is critical and which is not. And this is not as simple a task as it may seem. Let’s take a simple example. Account with a bank whose balance
is equal to 100 rubles. Suppose that the current account balance data is catastrophic. That is, in the event of a history of cash flow on the account will be lost, but
balance will remain (and in theory – the account holder will be able to continue using it in the event of trouble). In case of a client’s request to the bank about the reasons for being in the account, this is the same
the amount, in a situation characterized as a “catastrophe”, the bank is likely to be unable to say anything if the depositor claims that the account was, for example, 1000 or 10,000 rubles (in
reality, most likely before complete data recovery).

Thus, in the age of “numbers” come to the fore the issues of information security, and in all areas where the same “figure” has penetrated. And the concept of “information security” in
this context needs to be interpreted quite broadly – as the security of digital information, as the security of transactions and data environments, the security of data processing and
resistance to fraudulent, fraudulent, or knowingly fraudulent acts by users.

The same bank account or the availability of citizen information in federal databases, or even information in the ticket booking system – are all potentially vulnerable entities, both from the point of view
in terms of reliability as well as in terms of resistance to evil intent.

If for any reason the data center with banking or government data falls – without exaggeration, it will be a disaster. So even a banal fall of a communication channel can cause serious
problems in infrastructure and, as a consequence, in the work of services that provide a “figure” in life. And if you mention that a lot of common household services (electricity or telephone)
can be remotely controlled and require a constantly operational data environment …

Everything is conditional, except that it is objective

It turns out that for a comfortable existence in the “figure” a person should not only be guided by the quality of life supplied through digital and peripheral services, but also provide
their implementation infrastructure with multiple redundancies. It is not enough to just take and do. Reliability, fault tolerance, crashworthiness and continuity have yet to be ensured. And these
requirements must be laid at the design stage of the service. In general, in the digital age, issues of architecture are becoming more acute than before: there is little to design the service, it needs to be organized
infrastructure, easily scalable, resilient, redundant. In addition, the digital services infrastructure had to be resistant to attack and hacking. That’s the price of comfort
of the modern world. No options: the world has gone so deeply into the “figure” that renouncing it seems unreal. So, we need to adapt to the realities. Including to secure this
the most “figures”, both from the malefactors, and from factors of a natural and man-made character.

And if natural factors are increasingly understood, then the design and implementation of security and reliability loops becomes an integral part of any service design process. To
Unfortunately, in today’s world, neither security nor reliability can be neglected. The theft of a digital identity can cause much more harm to a person than the theft of material possessions.
Think of China with its rating system. What happens if a citizen is “deduced” by a digital personality with a good rating? (I’m not a connoisseur of specific attack methods, but I suspect this kind of attack
theft can be quite likely.)

Or a simpler example of our realities: stealing a public service account that contains quite a bit of information that falls under the federal law on personal data protection. result
such a theft can be quite unpleasant for the citizen. For example, they can take a loan in his name. Or, make a company that was created for illegal activity. And, sadly,
the consequences of such an evil citizen can feel for a long time.

Thus, the main challenges of the digital society are security and reliability. And the security is not only databases and data channels, but also “digital hygiene”. How much do you think you need
time specially trained software to make a portrait of a person on his activities in social networks? And how much does it take to estimate his income? What about where he is now? All these questions go over
from the rhetorical category to the real one at the moment when a particular person starts to feel inconvenienced because the data from his social networks have been used against him in one way or another
interests. I note that social networks are a tool that is used purely voluntarily. Without diminishing their dignity and important functions (to be in touch, to broadcast information quickly), it is necessary
to note that most of the users of these services, because of their low literacy or inaccuracy, make information that is potentially compromising to themselves or other users public,
that can be exploited by an attacker.

Thus, a kind of “yin – yang” comes out: a digital world that cannot be said to be bad or good. He is just who he is. A “digit” is a time marker, a tool … but it has
comprehensive action, a tool used by everyone – but not by everyone. And its use cannot be undone. So you have to put up with a safe configuration
use of this tool, with maximum benefit for all users. Which from my point of view is happening right now.

digital transformation, digitalization, data storage, state information systems

Business in number

IT-Manager Magazine [№ 01/2020],

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