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A Brief History of Security

What is the One Key Security Lesson History Can Teach Us?

Simon Fenn
Senior Security Solution Architect, Vodafone Enterprise Security

Security by its own definition is the state of being free from danger or threat. A concept that is I feel sometimes forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily life in this modern world.

We can go back in time to see early examples in the Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs who hired private security guards for personal protection. Or to Ancient Rome where emperors had security guards for personal, family and property security.

The history of securing data reaches back just as far. Ancient Egypt is accredited with creating encryption (to disguise or protect sensitive information). In antiquity the Spartans used the transposition cipher, which involved changing the positions of the letters within documents. Julius Caesar is noted as being the first person to use encryption for military purposes, sending documents by shifting the letters in the alphabet by three.

Thomas Jefferson in 1795 created the Jefferson disk or wheel cypher - something which those of you who have read or seen the Da Vinci Code will be familiar with due to its similarity in appearance to the cryptex cylinder used to hide the location of the holy grail by author Dan Brown.

Security, and in some cases the lack of it, has fundamentally changed the shape of the modern world we currently live in. A prime example of this was the breaking of the German Enigma code used during the second world war. The Enigma device was a machine resembling a typewriter that used interchangeable rotors and a plug board with 159 million million million possible settings, which the Germans believed was unbreakable. However, the first enigma messages were broken in January 1940 and continued to be broken during the course of the war. Security has again evolved into IT security and cyber security which basically comprises of technologies, processes and controls that are designed to protect systems, networks and data from cyber-attacks.

The lesson: security evolves to combat a known threat.

However, many of today’s threats are “unknown” and require advanced technology, skilled people to manage risk and well implemented processes working together to protect organisations. If you have gaps in any one of those 3 controls, it’s vital for the health of your business to seek help from qualified service providers. They have depth of expertise in technology selection and implementation, certified security professionals to deliver to demanding service levels and the process rigor to match the pace of change.

My final thought to leave you with. Security fears have been around for centuries and they won’t disappear, however the way that we deal with them will keep evolving. Regardless of technology, be it paper based, an enigma machine or the latest, most advanced next generation firewall; the basic definition of security (being free from danger or threat) still applies now and certainly will in the future!

Cyber security is a key concern for organisations of all sizes. Protecting devices, networks, data and apps is an essential component of doing business. Vodafone provides security products and services to businesses of all sizes, helping you secure your business anywhere because we are everywhere. We are trusted by organisations globally, including utilities, financial institutions and government agencies. For more cyber security, insights, you can find us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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