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High Time for Cyberlaw Enforcement and a Future of Work Strategy

By Rob Enderle
Jan 25, 2021 4:00 AM PT
centralized cyberlaw enforcement

Huawei has events where it pulls together key analysts to focus on problems it thinks are critical to the future. At its last event, Huawei spoke about two areas that need considerable work.

One is that we need an international cybersecurity commission with teeth before some country accidentally starts WWIII with a cyberattack. The recent SolarWinds attack was a case in point. Allegedly from Russia, this attack penetrated some of the most secure facilities and could have resulted in a catastrophic failure in infrastructure, potentially resulting in mass loss of life. We got lucky this time and may not be so lucky the next.

Huawei CSO Andy Purdy also spoke about the lack of a comprehensive strategy for the future of work post-COVID-19 coming from any country. The EU did develop one, but it severely lacked in needed detail to be used as a guideline for firms like Huawei to build for the future. I did market and business analysis when I was in IBM, and part of that job was to forecast the future so that future products could meet those anticipated future needs.

I later became aware of Intel's Science Fiction Prototyping effort created by my old friend Brian David Johnson, which the DoD utilized though I'm not sure it survived the last administration.

Let's talk this week about the critical need for centralized cyberlaw enforcement -- and international cyberlaws -- and the need for a clear vision on the future of work. We'll close with my product of the week, a new 40" curved monitor from Dell, which may be the ultimate monitor for those of us who work from home.

Global Cyberlaw Enforcement

One of the most interesting talks at this year's CES was by Microsoft President Brad Smith, who highlighted cybersecurity as a critical threat. He built on Ronald Reagan's interest in the topic, which came from a fascinating source during his keynote.

The cybersecurity problem -- which started back in the '80s with kids who could code and had too much time on their hands, and not enough understanding of consequences -- has now migrated to nation states that can do significant damage, accidentally or on purpose, attempting to breach other states either friendly or hostile.

This lack of enforceable international cyberlaws and the inability of international regulatory agencies like the United Nations to enforce these laws is problematic. It will likely eventually result in a massive breach, leading to loss of lives, which could almost instantly result in a shooting war.

Smith used the President Reagan example where he asked the general if "War Games" was possible. The answer not only was "Yes," but it was far worse than what the movie portrayed. As more weapons systems and infrastructure become automated and connected, the opportunity to hijack and control these systems, and do harm, increases dramatically. AIs, according to Brad, substantially increase the risk to nuclear proportions as that old movie showcased.

In law enforcement, we call it due process, where evidence of wrongdoing is presented to a judge entity, who then renders an unbiased decision on guilt or innocence. Right now, a country can move from accusation to punitive response without having to prove guilt. You may recall a while back; an attack was initially thought to be from North Korea that was instead eventually sourced to Russia.

As I noted above, this problem becomes even more critical as AIs come online and control critical systems. Unless nation states can be reliably held to international cyberlaws, we are on a path to playing the Global Thermonuclear War game from War Games -- for real.

In the end, I agree that we are well past the time when we should be thinking about cyberthreats the same way we think of nuclear threats, because we don't want to see the result of a War Games be an outcome in real life.

A Future Office Vision

There is no consensus on the future's office (with the future being next year), even in the home. We have companies building out massive numbers of video conference rooms under the belief that employees will drive into the office to use them.

The analyst community is almost in rare universal agreement that there is no evidence that these new conferencing rooms will be useful. With people moving farther and farther apart, and COVID-19 restrictions likely to be with us through next year, the idea of driving into the office just for a meeting seems very poorly founded.

Those who need to work centrally will likely need offices that have split systems for HVAC so that infections don't move from office to office. For the most part, open plan and cubicle offices won't be viable until and unless we can get COVID risk levels down to where flu risks are -- and that seems unlikely with ever-more- easily-spread COVID-19 mutations showing up.

Instead, we should be thinking about how to create and equip COVID-safe office buildings to keep workers protected. There is no doubt we will eventually get there. Still, it would be far better to get this work done and set requirements before companies spend millions redesigning offices as central video conferencing sites that won't meet those future needs.

But without central direction, companies are all over the map, building things that, odds are, won't be viable in the future world that's imminent. That is a lot of potentially avoidable waste.

Wrapping Up

We have two big problems we are dealing with in the technology world right now. One is the growing threat of state-led cyberthreats; the other is that current office designs are no longer possible thanks to the pandemic threat.

Yes, there are other problems that all governments need to get their arms around. Still, these two involve assuring the health and safety of all of us that don't want to see the alternative ending to War Games -- where the missiles are launched -- become our future.

Rob Enderle's Technology Product of the Week

The Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD Monitor

One of the products that was an Honoree of the CES 2021 Innovation Award is the Dell 40" UltraSharp Curved Monitor.

What makes this monitor special is that it is one of the few ultrawides with a 4K resolution. This monitor will take a single cable that will also provide 90W passthrough charging for those living with current-generation Intel laptops with Thunderbolt ports.

Available by the end of January, this monitor isn't a cheap date at $2,099.99. With a latency of 5ms and a refresh rate of 60 Hz, this monitor is pretty good for gaming, though with 300 nits of peak brightness, it would be best used in rooms that don't get any sun.

Dell UltraSharp 40-inch Curved WUHD Monitor - U4021QW
Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD Monitor - U4021QW
This monitor isn't targeting gamers, however, and instead is mostly for those that need screen real estate and create content, code, or analyze data. But for the strategy games I play, it is awesome.

By the way, the reasons for large screen monitors rather than multiple monitors are weight and losing the gap between monitors, which I, and I'm sure others, find annoying, especially when it is right in the middle.

For those like me who spend tons of time in front of a screen and need the real estate, this 40" UltraSharp monitor from Dell (some call it the ultimate work from the home monitor) is a godsend -- and my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.


Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob.


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