Once again, we move into a new year. With it come new challenges, new issues and new angles to tackle security problems, be it online or offline. As part of our overall discussion into searching for a holistic security theory, we ask ourselves: what will security mean in 2019?
Last year we saw the continuing balancing act of keeping our online data safe from viruses, hackers and in the case of ongoing US investigations, government actors. And we saw the unfortunate continuation of tense international relations and acts of terror continue.
However, we also saw the building momentum of protest and perseverance in the #metoo movement. Women (and men) across the world have become empowered to speak up and speak out against abusers and harassers, shedding an uncomfortable light on sexual assault and toxic masculinity being used to make women and men (but women in particular) feel unsafe in society.
Furthermore, insecurity brought about by political instability and uncertainty have also created new security concerns. Continued reports of alleged Russian interference in US politics and social media spark concerns about the security of our freedom of speech and thought. The continued political crises in the US and the fallout of the seemingly endless Brexit debate have emboldened and fostered the troubling rise of new far right groups. Recently, these groups have felt encouraged to foment hateful discourse and sometimes incite people to violence.
How then should we approach any theory of security? Let alone formulate a new kind of security policy? What we are now seeing are security problems arising from social structures that are fracturing under the pressures of so much change. These issues are ideological and cultural, but they are the basis (and sometimes the cause) of serious security issues that have occurred and will continue to arise in the future.
Forming policies alone cannot address these problems. They need to be tackled with the correct mindset – we need to be thinking about security in a holistic way.
This means understanding that there may be a rise in reports of sexual harassment in the workplace. This is not because there will be a sudden rise of sexual harassers in the office, but that there may have been a pre-existing culture of harassment that has been previously under-reported. In a similar vein, this will also mean that employees now feel empowered or brave enough to speak out because there is a more productive environment in which to address these issues.
This also means being careful around social media. It is important to learn to understand social triggers on social media and the environments that ferment extreme and toxic thinking. Security analysts will be better able to profile and prevent possible acts of harassment, violence or sabotage.
Tackling any security issue requires a strong, analytic and forward-thinking mindset. By understanding even those unrelated facets of an organisation, you arm yourself with the right tools to look at security issues from every angle. Taking this approach doesn’t only mean that you can anticipate any issues, but also that you can easily understand the underlying causes and address those too.