01 Jun 2014
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Ask the Expert: Braving an Insecure New World

Feeling nervous about your online exposure? Nathaniel Fick (MBA/MPA 2008), CEO of Washington, DC–based Endgame—which provides cybersecurity solutions to governments and companies—answers alumni questions.
Re: Myrna Cox (MBA 1987); Clemens Aichholzer (MBA 2003); Scott Howe (MBA 1994); Allegra Jordan (MBA 1995)

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For consumers' benefit, why aren't companies certified as to their level of cybersecurity?
Myrna Cox (MBA 1987), Calgary, Canada

Security certifications might feel good at first, but they would almost certainly degrade into largely illusory, "check-the-box" compliance exercises. Technology will always outpace static compliance requirements, so trying to meet them amounts to a misallocation of resources, often costly and with little promise of better security.

The ever-increasing data gathered by Internet giants such as Google and Facebook spur innovation while ever diminishing our privacy. Are limits or balance possible?
Clemens Aichholzer (MBA 2003), London, England

We've been trading privacy for convenience for a
long time—from dictating a message to a telegraph operator rather than writing a more private letter, to choosing to use a credit card rather than cash for our purchases. Make no mistake: Big Data knows more about you than Big Brother ever will! Data-driven innovation to improve the technologies and services that we all depend on can actually strengthen privacy for what people value most—corporate IP, personal data, and financial data. And that same privacy is a necessary condition for innovation—consider IP safeguards or reasonably secure communications. Putting limits on privacy or innovation sets up a false choice between the two. They're both essential to our way of life, and we need to strive for balance.

Is the idea of privacy generational?
Allegra Jordan (MBA 1995), Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Young people don't seem to care as much about their online privacy as their elders do, but we've all contributed to making privacy transactional. In exchange for discounts, we hand over our zip codes or email addresses at the checkout counter. We rail about the NSA while carrying tracking devices—our smartphones—in our pockets. What seems to matter most to us is choice: Most people are willing to sacrifice privacy so long as they have control over that decision.

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2008, Section H
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