What is Cyber Security

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In the 1950s, the word “Cyber” used to refer to Cybernetics – The scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine. This was followed by “Cyber” standing for “computerized.” The term Cyber security is disputed. The definition changes from one organization to other organization, from one nation to another nation. Even within a nation the definition varies from one government department to the next. The Education department may have a different definition than the Defense division. This vagueness means it can cover an almost endless range of different issues such as privacy or human rights. “A New America Foundation” study from 2014 which found over 400 different Cyber Security definitions. Most of the definitions were developed over years by research and development institutes, training institutes, Businesses, intelligence and military actors focuses on the security of digital information and the network infrastructure that stores and transmits this information.

One might wonder why we are spending so much time talking about definitions. After all it’s just words, isn’t it? Well “The devil is in the detail”. Small differences in the emphasis of Cyber-security definitions can have big implications for human rights and actions. Definitions create the norms and rules on which policies are based and the narratives which justify them. If the definitions are  too broad or focused on systems they can be used to justify a wide range of measures both legitimate and illegitimate.

There are several bodies that have helped to shape the International definition of Cyber Security. Technical bodies such as Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and numbers (ICANN) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) are also active in developing their own definitions of Cyber-security. Broadly speaking the widely accepted international definition as defined by ISO 27000 standards is “Cyber-security is the Preservation through policy technology and Education of the Availability, Confidentiality and Integrity of Information and its Underlying Infrastructure so as to Enhance the Security of Persons both Online and Offline.