While the features and functions of computers have drastically changed over the last 40 years, their underlying operation has not changed, as it is the foundation of all computing today. In other words, computers at their base level of operation function almost the same as they did from inception, only a lot faster. If there had been any idea that computers would be used for what they are today, much of their initial design would have probably been different.
Did you know that computers were initially designed to count and process numbers? In fact, IBM came about in the early 1880s from the automated counting invention of Herman Hollerith to tabulate the national census of 1890. IBM later evolved to support the large amounts of data that companies, insurance agencies and governments had to process. There was not even a consideration that computers may one day revolutionize our lives.
In fact, past IBM president Thomas J. Watson is known for his alleged 1943 statement saying, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Similarly, Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office, said in 1899 that, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” And Ken Olsen, co-founder of now lapsed Digital Equipment Corporation, one of the largest corporate computer manufacturers in the world during its time, said in 1977 that, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” Can you imagine that?!
The fact that computers were designed to store and analyze data is exactly what has us facing the Cyber Crisis we have today.
Prior to the proliferation of the Internet, only corporate and government systems were really connected in any manner, as you may already be aware. Those systems stored vast amounts of data for search and analytical purposes (a.k.a data mining). Computers were relatively slow and software was primitive. No one ever expected data to be analyzed immediately, mainly because they could not do it. Analysts could merely “predict” and model behaviour, not prevent it.
Rather than working on methods to have computers look at data in real-time, the industry chose to focus its resources on lowering the cost of storage and writing more efficient software and algorithms to look at the vast amounts of data now flooding in. This is exactly where the problem we face today started. It may seem hard to believe, but it can take hours or even weeks for system data to be reviewed. Case in point: data analysis from the BP oil rig disaster took months to analyze.
The world is now made up of millions of databases that store archived data for future analysis. There is no technology on the market today that can observe data flows in real-time, identify interrelated data relationships, and alert decision-makers of process breaches immediately. History’s solution is to write an infinite amount of rules and layers of software code in an attempt to keep the unauthorized out. In essence, it is a free-for-all for the intruder to read, download, change or destroy information until their heart’s content and risk possible detection and discovery later. Case in point: WikiLeaks cables leak; nuclear power plant damage caused by the Stuxnet worm; Google being hacked by China; and, most recently, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook fan page being hacked just as Facebook announced new security measures. Believe it or not, any system in the world can be hacked if enough effort is put behind it.
So… if we know the problem is computer design, why don’t we correct it and end the threat of Cyber Warfare? It is too late. As they say, you cannot “un-ring” the bell. Everyone is connected, virtually anyone can get in and the systems cannot even know you are there. Not much of a war is it? More like shooting ducks in a barrel. The very fact that computers revolve around databases means that they are, in essence, working in the past. War is in the moment and the computer can’t play the game. Hackers one, computers zero. The good news is there is now a solution, and it’s called Decision-Zone.