Things happened at a breakneck pace this year in the world of cyber and national security. In fact, the pace was and continues to be so fast, it’s almost foolhardy to characterize any one event as the sign of a long-term trend.
But I’m going to give it a shot. Here’s a look at what’s out in 2013 and what’s in for 2014, the national security edition.
|OUT – 2013||IN – 2014|
|PRIVACY POLICIES: If Americans have learned one thing from the NSA data collection scandal, it’s that privacy policies really aren’t worth the paper (or websites) they’re printed on as long as the government treats everybody and every communication as a potential threat.||ENCRYPTION: So far, the biggest change to come from the NSA disclosures has nothing to do with Congress or the White House. Rather, it’s been the adoption of encryption technologies by citizens, journalists and some of the biggest companies on the Internet.|
|NSA: Slowly but surely, Congress will act to restrict the activities of NSA. Reforms will be instituted and journalists’ fascination with Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald will evaporate. Snowden and Greenwald will become, in Michael Hayden’s words, “morally arrogant alcoholics” nobody pays attention to anymore.||BIG DATA: Perhaps a benefit of the NSA surveillance scandal, Americans will turn their attention to the massive data surveillance and collection undertaken by private industry in the name of marketing and services. A little bit of friction in the system is good. But big data will grow smarter in 2014.|
|NATIONAL FRAMEWORK: Voluntary frameworks have proven to be exercises in cheerleading, avoiding the tough issues of resources and accountability.||CYBERSECURITY LEGISLATION: Call me an optimist, but I want to believe 2014 will be the year of meaningful cybersecurity legislation. It’s the only way to raise the bar on a large scale. Voluntary measures are ignored unless they are paid for by the government.|
|PASSWORDS: Let’s face it, they may have never worked.||BIOMETRICS: From air travel to physical security and mobile authentication, biometrics are hot, particularly iris scans, facial recognition and voice recognition technologies.|
|DRONES: The U.S. market forecast, particularly in the military sector, does not look great for drones in the short term. Plus, they have become synonymous with Big Brother and civilian casualties in the war on terror.||ROBOTS: Defense contractor Boston Dynamics has demonstrated some of the most fascinating and capable robots in the world. And in 2013, the company was gobbled up by Google. Enough said.|
|CLOUD COMPUTING: Aren’t we there already?||COMPUTING: Today, computing is the network. If your computing device is not on the network, it’s as useful as two soup cans connected to a piece of string.|
|CLEARANCE REINVESTIGATIONS: After WikiLeaks, Snowden and the Navy Yard shooter, the days of obtaining a security clearance and not being reinvestigated for five or 10 years are over.||CONTINUOUS EVALUATION: Next year, we will begin to see the national security communityexercise its IT muscle to keep better tabs on those entrusted with its secrets.|
|CYBERWAR: Nobody knows what it is or what it would look like if it happened.||CYBER-DOCTRINE: We know exactly how and when we would use virtually every tool of national power, except for our cyber-capabilities. Let’s hope 2014 is the year we finally develop a doctrine to guide our decisions in cyberspace.|
|BLACKBERRY: BlackBerry Ltd. closed out the year with a massive $4.4 billion quarterly loss and shed another 6 percent in value on the stock market. That’s tough news for the company that pioneered the concept of on-the-go email for senior executives. But today’s market simply out-innovated BlackBerry out of a top sales slot. Revenue fell by $1.5 billion in the last quarter of 2013 – that means people just aren’t buying BlackBerry devices anymore.||ANDROID: If you walked the floors of the several large government and security trade shows that hit Washington, D.C., this year, as I did, you would have see a large number of mobile device manufacturers selling ruggedized Android phones (as we as a few Apple iOS phones) equipped with a full suite of biometrics capabilities. This year, these phones and their nonrugged cousins will once and for all sound the death knell for the staid BlackBerry.|
|MAGNETIC STRIPES: You know that little black stripe on the back of your credit card or debit card? Yeah, that one. It’s older than most of your parents, dating back to technology developed at the end of World War II. But thanks to the hackers who just stole 40 million more identities from retail giant Target, commercial industry might finally wake up and update this geezer technology.||CONTACTLESS CARDS: Yes, it will be a little expensive for small businesses and the mom & pop shops to buy new readers, but the days of swiping a card through a strange slot are over. Contactless cards are already used widely in the physical security space for building and facility access, but they will begin to find their way into the retail payment and government services markets very soon.|
|BIG IRON: Those in the Defense Department who have been paying attention for the last couple of years are pretty much aware Americans will no longer tolerate billions of dollars being spent on systems or research that don’t ever turn into an actual weapon system. The great budget cut is just beginning.||UNAFFORDIUM: This is the strange new metal discovered by DOD’s principal deputy chief information officer, Robert Carey. Apparently, it is most often found in proposals by small and medium-sized business that don’t understand DOD’s sequestration-era contracting process.|