Jeff Yastine Blog | Stopping the Cybersecurity ‘Spiral of Death’ | Talkmarkets
Editor, Total Wealth Insider
Contributor's Links: Banyan Hill Publishing

Jeff “JL” Yastine is the editor of Total Wealth Insider. He first joined Banyan Hill Publishing as editorial director in 2015, bringing with him more than two decades of experience as a stock market investor and financial journalist at the center of financial world ... more

Stopping the Cybersecurity ‘Spiral of Death’

Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2017 2:17 PM EST

We can learn plenty about where the cybersecurity world is headed by following a lesson from history…

A century ago, the fledgling industry of aviation had a problem — and it was getting people killed.

According to an edition of Popular Mechanics from that era…

  • Four fliers died in 1909.
  • Thirty-two pilot deaths in 1910.
  • Seventy-seven fatalities in 1911.
  • One hundred forty pilot deaths in 1912.
  • Nearly 200 by 1913.

The problem?

In many cases, pilot fatigue and disorientation. Their arms grew tired steering the underpowered, fabric-and-wood, open-cockpit biplanes through buffeting winds. Or they’d fly into a fogbank, lose their bearings and unknowingly descend lower and lower until hitting the ground. Pilots called it the “spiral of death.”

The solution?

Automation and cockpit instruments. In 1914, a father-son inventor team, Elmer and Lawrence Sperry, developed the first autopilot device, and later, the “artificial horizon.” The first altimeters were introduced in the early 1920s.

By 1929, Army Lt. Jimmy Doolittle — during World War II, Lieutenant General Doolittle, leader of the famous 1942 raid on the Japanese homeland — made the first “instrument flight” in which he flew and landed a plane while inside a blacked-out cockpit.

The world of online security appears to be following a similar path…

More automation. Fewer people. Fewer problems.

The Advent of Automated Cybersecurity

In August, the Pentagon — worried about leaks of military and intelligence secrets — purchased a revolutionary cybersecurity technology dubbed “Mayhem,” developed by a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University.

What’s so revolutionary about it?

They programmed a supercomputer to automate the entire process of finding unpatched security flaws and bugs.

So instead of waiting for a human hacker to find and exploit an unnoticed vulnerability in a vast corporate computer system, the Mayhem software constantly roams about the system on its own to identify — and fix — those weak points first.

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