Historical account of Cybersecurity

We live in the information age, which implies numerous changes in human life, its various social sectors, governments, and states. Everything we have built has been influenced by the digital age, which is why we associate Information and Communication Technologies with a plethora of activities that contribute to the perception, structuring, and understanding of life.

As a result of our evolutionary nature, the right to feel safe in the information age drives us to develop cybersecurity and cyberdefence in order to guarantee the right to privacy, anonymity, and the protection of tangible and intangible assets. That is why the human being is interested in learning more about cybersecurity studies, legal analysis on computer law, and criminological approaches in virtual spaces, because there is a need to promote information security, both in the State and in the social sectors, so that it is understood that it is a right to contribute to the appropriation of knowledge and the necessary tools to ensure the security of information in personal and governmental spaces of action, as well as in the private and public sectors. information and preventive measures.

Table of Contents

What is the origin of the term “cybernetics”?

The term “cybernetics” is as old as the Greek “polis” or “Parthenon,” indicating that “Cybernetics comes from the Greek v and means “art of piloting a ship,” though Plato used it in The Republic with the meaning “art of directing men” or “art of governing.” The term went unnoticed for centuries until the first decades of the twentieth century, when writers such as Norbert Wiener were forerunners of studies that explain the relationships and differentiations between living beings and man-made structures.

Wiener suggested that the aim of “cybernetics” was the development of “[…] a language and techniques that allow us actually to attack the problem of control and communication in general, but also to find a good repertoire of ideas and techniques to classify its particular manifestations in certain concepts”. It should be noted that Wiener had his first incursions theoretical ones from the hand of Arturo Rosenblueth Stearns, being one of the structuring of the cybernetic foundations highlighting “the problem of man-machine interaction”.

Thus, the foundations of what would become “cybernetics” were laid, which investigated control and communication in human, animal, and machine interrelationships.

Ross Ashby was one of the architects of current reflections during the early stages of “cybernetic” thought, which included biological and physical explanations. Ashby visualized in his work “An Introduction to Cybernetics”, the vastness and connection of the subject, and pointed out that this branch of thought would tend to reveal “[…] a large number of interesting and suggestive parallels between the machine, the brain and society. And it can provide a common language through which discoveries in one field can be easily applied to others.”

These three research factors (machine/brain/society) interact in a way that acts as a transversal axis, resulting in a new set of processes, relationships, and social languages. The scope of application expanded over time, transforming “cybernetics” into a multidisciplinary field. According to Heylighen and Joslyn (2001), “the broad cybernetic philosophy that systems are defined by their abstract relationships, functions, and information flows, rather than their concrete material or components, is beginning to permeate popular culture, albeit in a still superficial way […]”.

Somehow, the previous authors’ expression of cultural impregnation was imbued with a «unintelligible» extension, linked to the idiom typical of the 1980s, in which the extensive use of the prefix “ciber” tended to identify very diverse activities or approaches. However, it is important to note that it is linked to the connectivity and radiality of information that is typical of computational media that are assumed to be cells of a virtual system. “[…] cybernetics arises when the effectors (say, a motor, a machine, our muscles, etc.) are connected to a sensory organ, which in turn works with its signals on the effectors,” says Von Foerster (2003). This circular organization is what gives rise to cybernetic systems […]”.

When did you first mention cyberspace?

Those complexities that we previously visualized in the words that precede the prefix “cyber,” are manifested in the use of the term “cyberspace,” which is not initially linked to the control theories or systems that shaped the “cybernetics” disciplinary. Several authors date the term to 1984, citing William Gibson’s fictional work, in which “cyberspace” is described as “a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in all nations, by children being taught high mathematical concepts… A graphical representation of information extracted from all of the computers in the human system’s banks. Unfathomable complication.” Despite the novelty of this proposal, what Gibson exposed gives an appetizer of what would certainly be the interconnected digital scenario a few decades later, which is consistent with what was suggested in his work “Neuromancer”.

Entering a more theoretical field, Cicognani tries to break into the terminological depths to propose that: “[…] in the term cyber+space, space assumes the meaning of physical matter, while cyber gives it immaterial characteristics”. It has not been easy to reconcile the physical and virtual worlds, and it has necessitated a thorough analytical exercise to broaden and collapse old paradigms that made the material imperative to accept as real.

This heated debate over “cyberspace” has resulted in observations such as those of Post (2013), who states that “[…] the question ‘is cyberspace really a place’?” is akin to asking whether life on land is “identical to” or “different from” life on the sea. The answer is that it is both at the same time. Even assuming a position of recognition of cyberspace, the various currents of thought fall back into another bifurcation analytical, which consists of abstracting “cyberspace” from the social and focusing on “instrumentalist” explanations, which, while important, end up being insufficient, finding systematic explanations such as those of Folsom (2007), which details it: “[…] as an embedded switched network for moving data traffic, further characterized by varying degrees of connectivity.”

The definitions that tend to address this virtual space, narrowing it with the human, stand out, because conceptualizations, uses, and contributions cannot be separated from its social essence, and “cyberspace” is ultimately an anthropic creation. “We can characterize cyberspace as the spatial reference used in electronic media, but that raises our need to define space itself, so we can experience how space is actually the product of mental processes,” writes Anders (2001).

The beginnings of security in information environments

The absolute dimension that Information and Communication Technologies were deploying on the various sectors that comprise society became overwhelming, and security began to be affected by this phenomenon as a result of the number of new dynamics that emerged as a result of it. According to Caro, “just as the so-called world web or World Wide Web has evolved, so have the threats it faces.” Strategic analyses, in this sense, must always run concurrently with threat reconfigurations or emergence in order to delineate their projection towards security and defense.

When Fred Cohen ventured to state a previously unknown feature of computing, such as viruses, the concepts rooted in 1984 did not initially notice the strategic impact, specifying the researcher: “We define computer “virus” as a program that can ‘infect’ other programs by modifying them to include a possibly evolved copy of itself.” These appreciations of Cohen at the time seemed to be limited to a technical characterization of civilian computing matters, but theoretical assimilation was what led to the start of talk of “cyber threats” in different countries and this gave rise to “cyber defense” and how consequence to “Cybersecurity”.

It would be necessary to add to the exposed technical variable, the global trend, where the population and its institutions began to interact closely with cybernetic systems, to the point that Castells described this relationship as: “the extension and growth of the body and mind of subjects humans in interaction networks powered by software-operated microelectronic communication technologies”. This panorama showed a technological exposure, together with the potential of a threat that led to the establishment of new nuances in Information Security, constituting more specific sub-areas such as the so-called “Cybersecurity” or “Computer Forensics”.

César Daniel Barreto
César Daniel Barreto
César Daniel Barreto Quintero is a Chemistry graduate with a Master's in Heavy Crude Extraction. He specializes in Holistic Research Methodology in science and engineering and works as an Associate Research and Development Professional at the National Institute of Technology for Petroleum (INTEVEP). With 17 years of experience in chemical characterization of petroleum, he has received professional training in ISO and has studied Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property and its corresponding legislation. He has also studied scientific journalism and writing and has published scientific articles, technical reports, a chemical patent, and an oil field trademark. He aims to share his knowledge through short publications on intellectual property and information security legislation.


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