One of the biggest world affairs issues today is the topic of cyber-security, and according to one of the top minds on the topic, it's about time it becomes a focus.
"I think the benefits of the World Wide Web have far outpaced the costs. We just haven't paid enough attention to security until now, myself included. This is a relatively new phenomenon on people's radar," Michael McNerney said.
McNerney is a cyber-security advisor and a former consultant with the U.S. Department of Defense. He recognizes that things we have traditionally done in the physical world are quickly moving over to the digital world.
"We're becoming more and more dependent on the Internet and on cyber space, which I think has enormous benefits regarding productivity and information, but it also has a potential downside, as we've seen, it's a very vulnerable environment."
That was what millions found out during the data breach at Target. As business moves to cyberspace, so do the criminals.
"Like Willie Sutton used to say, right, why he robbed banks, that's where the money is. That's why we see a lot of cyber-crime today. I will expect to see that happening for the foreseeable future," McNerney said.
That crime is not isolated to money. Cyber-spying between countries has been an issue for years. McNerney says the dangers of an escalating conflict between countries because of cyber-crime is still unclear.
"The important thing to keep in mind is not just a question of who can do this, but also who would want to. So, would China or Russia want to shut off our power grid? I don't think so, that would mean war and that's not good for them either," McNerney said.
While there may be a good number of unknowns about the cyber world, McNerney says they should not deter you from embracing the Internet as something that will drive our future.
McNerney is taking part in a Cyber-Security Symposium at Dakota State University Thursday and Friday.