Let's face it, in today's rapidly evolving technological world, the importance of security across various sectors, including healthcare, military, government, and education, cannot be overstated.
The state of North Carolina has a unique opportunity to harness the power of military contracts and technological innovation to fortify its security infrastructure, safeguarding its critical assets from a multitude of threats, ranging from cyberattacks to physical attacks.
Cyberattacks on healthcare institutions have increased in recent years, compromising patient information and disrupting essential healthcare services. Why is this "bad"? A lot of people's personal data is in those computer systems. One key thing no one has focused on is identity theft. Hackers can use this data to connect it to government workers as well, possibly stealing vital credentials for secure networks, even all the way down to blackmailing people.
Just last year North Carolina saw 10 documented Breaches. [Source] (https://hickoryrecord.com/partners/the-biggest-health-care-data-breaches-you-should-know-about-in-north-carolina/collection_5f04b1e1-b015-5f3a-ad99-24e51bb77255.html#1)
North Carolina is home to several military installations, including Fort Bragg and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Government agencies store a wealth of sensitive data, from classified military intelligence to citizen information. Ensuring the security of these facilities is crucial to national defence. With the increasing sophistication of cyber warfare and the evolving nature of modern conflicts, the military sector must stay ahead of potential threats. Military bases have a peculiar issue where various departments holding similar information are not interconnected. As a result, these separate systems, along with the military itself, remain unaware of each other's activities. As a white hat, I understand the potential danger in this situation because repeated calls could potentially lead to someone inadvertently disclosing sensitive information (They could even go as far as obtaining the data for IDs and walking onto base). This could pose a significant threat to the entire military infrastructure if hackers manage to collect enough data from essential records. As a side note, hackers could have different departments add data that is untrue. Hackers could piece this data together, much like solving a puzzle. For instance, they could infiltrate social media platforms, track down your friends and family, gather information from companies and medical records with minimal details, and even gain access to classified documents, compromising Operational Security (OpSec).
Example: The 2013 attack on the South Korean military, attributed to North Korea, disrupted classified data.
Example: The 2015 cyberattack on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) resulted in the theft of sensitive personal information from millions of government employees.
Educational institutions, spanning from K-12 schools to universities, are reliant on digital platforms for both teaching and administrative purposes. It is important to safeguard these institutions against cyber threats. In the realms of the hacker underworld, the motives extend beyond data breaches. Hackers can exploit systems to target and groom students.
Example The surge in ransomware attacks directed at educational institutions during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leveraging military contracts can effectively catalyze the advancement of state-of-the-art security technologies. Collaboration with defence contractors and tech companies is poised to create a flourishing ecosystem for innovation, mirroring a model exemplified by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has historically funded projects with applications that transcend the military domain.
Military contracts can not only bolster security but also provide job security and avenues for career growth within North Carolina. This approach can potentially furnish security experts and technologists with employment opportunities across diverse sectors such as healthcare, education, and government, ensuring the safeguarding of sensitive data and critical infrastructure. Drawing inspiration from the extensive workforce of cybersecurity professionals employed by the U.S. Department of Defense, the state can establish a localized version of this strategy to protect its critical assets effectively.
Collaboration between North Carolina's higher education institutions and the military can serve as a talent pipeline for the security sector. By establishing programs, scholarships, and internships, the state can attract individuals with a passion for technology and provide them with a structured path towards secure and meaningful employment.
Example: The U.S. Military Academy at West Point has long-standing partnerships with top-tier universities, enabling cadets to pursue advanced degrees in various fields, including cybersecurity.
North Carolina can tap into its high school talent pool by identifying students with natural computer skills and offering pathways into government cybersecurity careers. By investing in education and apprenticeship programs, the state can groom future security experts.
Example: The U.S. Cyber Patriot program introduces high school students to the field of cybersecurity and provides them with training, making them well-prepared for further education and careers in the sector.
The success of Silicon Valley, a region driven by technology and innovation, can serve as a blueprint for North Carolina. By nurturing an ecosystem of innovation, collaboration, and skilled labour, North Carolina can become a hub for cybersecurity, benefiting multiple sectors. They can work with people like Google, Facebook and other platforms to work on making the digital world safe for all users in all fields.
Example: Silicon Valley's tech giants, such as Apple, Google, and Facebook, have invested heavily in security measures to protect their platforms, user data, and critical infrastructure. Why not harness the power of government? Is your data valuable?
Example: Israeli companies like Check Point and CyberArk have developed cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions and expanded globally.
Enhancing security in the healthcare, military, government, power grid/water quality, Social Media and the education sectors are vital for the overall well-being of North Carolina. By utilizing military contracts, fostering local innovation, nurturing talent, and creating high-security job opportunities, the state can build a secure future. This plan promises not only to protect against potential threats but also to drive economic growth and innovation in the state.
North Carolina's geographic diversity, spanning from the majestic mountains to the flatlands and the scenic coastline with protective barrier islands, not only makes it a unique and picturesque state but also positions it as an ideal location for comprehensive technological growth and security.
Example: Asheville, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is home to a burgeoning tech scene and can serve as an excellent location for secure data storage and research centres.
Example: The Research Triangle Park (RTP) in the flatlands, already a hub for tech companies and research institutions, can further expand to support security and innovation.
Example: Fort Bragg's proximity to the Research Triangle Park enables military-civilian partnerships in fields such as cybersecurity, data analytics, and artificial intelligence.
It's time we make military security a fundamental part of our civilian life, paving the way for our state to become the next Silicon Valley of security. This should be our top priority, and it's crucial for ensuring the safety of everyone. We are not just protecting our military personnel but their families as well. This security initiative will seamlessly integrate into civilian life, securing everything from social media to power grids, ensuring the safety of our families, and safeguarding essential infrastructure, including water quality and hospitals. It's all about creating a resilient and secure future for everyone. Let the planning begin!