The last few days have been bad for decent people and good for cyber criminals. The world has witnessed one of the biggest cyber attacks with the release of Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry and its subsequent variants. The cyber-attack has hit more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries and the Europol chief, Rob Wainwright warned of an ‘escalating threat’.
It has been an interesting weekend for ICT departments, especially those with XP and Windows 2003 kit still in use. As the dust settles arguments have already started over why the necessary investment in patching and equipment upgrades has not been made. It is human nature to blame everyone else first and the finger pointing and accusations will go on for some time.
I want to take this opportunity to raise a different question though. Is cyber crime the price we pay for internet freedom?
Does all the good that we derive from the Internet come with a price to pay. In all societies which seek greater liberty there are people who will abuse the freedoms and privileges that come with it.
As Yin and Yang, the shady side and the sunny side, is illustrated from the Tao Te Ching: When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created. When people see things as good, evil is created.
And closer to home in Isaiah 45:7 in the King James Bible: I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil.
There will always be people who take the opportunity to exploit others’ weaknesses and the latest ransomware is just another example. Our reaction however should not be one of horror and revenge. We should not jerk our knees and allow the authorities greater powers of intervention in one of the greatest inventions of humanity. Instead we should learn our lessons.
WannaCry will make the Internet safer, ultimately. It will put personal data under greater protection, ultimately and it will allow the further development of BitCoin, the only global currency that lies outside the control of a nation state. These must be good things, ultimately.
Evil is not good and should be resisted yet it is an undeniable part of human nature. The answer to my question then is yes, this is the price we pay for liberty on the Internet.