Ben’s Book of The Month: Review of “The Digital Big Bang”

As late as about 20 years ago, there were those in information security, with enough experience, who could almost know it all. As to hardware, at one point, one could know how to use every piece of equipment from Cisco. But 2020 is a very different world, and short of being Thomas A. Anderson, aka Neo, having everything programmed into you, one person simply can’t know it all anymore.

Knowing that information security takes a village, in The Digital Big Bang: The Hard Stuff, the Soft Stuff, and the Future of Cybersecurity (Wiley 978-1119617365), editor Phil Quade has gathered the collective minds of almost 30 industry experts. The topics discussed are a cross-functional set of subjects, including privacy, cryptography, training, complexity management and much more.

My first thought was that the use of big bang in the title was a bit trite. But it is, in fact, a perfect term to describe information technology in general and information security specifically. Like the expanding universe, technology sees a continuous explosion in capacity. The fact that one can buy a 1TB USB thumb drive today, now for $29, displays that explosion. Considering that the US Library of Congress has about 10TB of text, that amount of storage is simply astounding.

Yet with all that data, security and privacy controls are often lacking. And the many smart minds in the book detail how to put those controls in place. Some of the all-star cast of contributors includes Roland Cloutier, Scott Charney, Taher Elgamal, Hussein Syed, Ed Amoroso and many more.

At 300 pages, the book is certainly not meant as a comprehensive overview of the many topics. What it does supply is a high-level overview and sets of strategic advice on how to implement information security. The book is excellent for a CTO, CIO or anyone in senior management who needs to get a handle on how to do this thing called infosec.

While it is written for technology professionals, it is also valuable for those who lack an in-depth understanding of security. Through the book, one comes out with a good understanding of the key topics and concepts. Far from just being a general guide, the contributors provide a lot of real-world advice and practical methods for implementation.

For those with a strong backing in information security, they may already know the main idea. But they will also come out with new insights into topics, from CISOs, who have been there and done that, to some of the largest companies in the world.

As for Future of Cybersecurity in the title, if the past is any indicator, the future will undoubtedly be exciting, challenging and, at times, quite frustrating. For those who want to know what that future may look like, and what the current should be, The Digital Big Bang is an interesting read.


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