Encryption. It’s not only a word that’s entered the vernacular at a faster rate than most other words in the last few decades, it’s now an essential concern of everyday life.
As the rise of social media and expansion of the cloud continue to influence and bring the world closer together, our transmitted and stored data is at higher risk than at any other time in history. Although most of us don’t transmit data as sensitive as government secrets or troop movements, our personal data is still a precious commodity that should be secured at every turn.
In the beginning, kings, queens, and generals used Stenography to communicate messages to their armies, which concealed or physically hid their messages from would be prying eyes. As the limitations of this method became apparent, stenography systems failed. But from the ashes rose new thinking, instead of hiding the messages the new methods would hide their meaning. A series of transposition and substitution of letters emerged that spawned the earliest forms of ciphers and codes.
We are a far cry from the Caesar and Vigenere ciphers or the effectiveness of the Frequency Analysis of our ancestors, but the playing field remains the same, securing information. Further, the dilemma is no longer just the concern of governments, but of the everyday person as well.
In the past, cryptologists battled the cryptanalysts creating and breaking ciphers and codes trying to move armies of generals across desolate and rugged terrain to seize a city or take a position. Now, it’s a stream of zeroes and ones carrying identifying markers of personal information that are at stake.
A further development from ancient times is the multifront campaign that the everyday person must face with their personal data as it’s sought by marketing beasts of multi-national corporations striving for global dominance, teenage hackers trying to disrupt the system, and governments committed to provide a warm blanket of protection that you might go about your daily lives unimpaired.
So, it’s become clear, what was once the sport of kings is now a daily exercise in the choices and concerns we make about our personal data. There is no greater propaganda machine than a person feeling disconnected from the collective. As we journey deeper into this digital frontier and our interactions with a plethora of devices become seamless, we are left with a single action, choice.
Choice is nothing new. But the exponential knock-on effect of our choices has never been greater. Can a society move forward in the digital age without privacy? Can we secure our data streams that are beneficial to the health and growth of our civilization without selling our souls to the marketing machines of seductive and trendy corporations? Do you want to live in an Orwellian 1984?
If the numerous headlines and history teach us anything it’s that nothing is impenetrable. With every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s only a matter of time. But how we choose to mold our collective future is important and must give one pause for thought.
You have a choice.