Patching Our Digital Future Is Unsustainable and Dangerous

CIGI Paper No. 219

June 27, 2019

In recent years, the world has witnessed an alarming number of high-profile cyber incidents, harmful information and communications technology (ICT) practices, and internationally wrongful acts through the misuse of ICTs. Over the last 30 years, a unique and strategic vulnerability has been brought to society — by allowing poorly coded or engineered, commercial-off-the-shelf products to permeate and power every aspect of our connected society. These products and services are prepackaged with exploitable weaknesses and have become the soft underbelly of government systems, critical infrastructures and services, as well as business and household operations. The resulting global cyber insecurity poses an increasing risk to public health, safety and prosperity. It is critical to become much more strategic about how new digital technologies are designed and deployed, and hold manufacturers of these technologies accountable for the digital security and safety of their products. The technology industry has fielded vulnerable products quickly — now, it is crucial to work together to reduce the risks created and heal our digital environment as fast as society can. This paper was first published as part of CIGI’s recent essay series, Governing Cyber Space during a Crisis in Trust. Read the essays in the series here.

Part of Series

CIGI Papers Series

CIGI Papers present in-depth analysis and discussion on governance-related subjects. They include policy papers that present CIGI experts' positions or contributions to policy debates, and background papers that contain research findings, insights and data that contribute to the development of policy positions.

About the Author

Melissa Hathaway is president of Hathaway Global Strategies LLC and a member of CIGI’s Board of Directors.