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Securing the Digital Revolution

The world is hurtling toward a more decentralized digital future, characterized by unprecedented linkages among people, data, and objects. In order to reap the benefits of innovation, without creating massive vulnerabilities, we need to anticipate and address the threats now.

BRUSSELS – Pity the person who invests heavily in canals right before the railways start operating. You could understand, for example, why the sponsor of the Bridgewater Canal (perhaps England’s first) would vehemently oppose the planned Liverpool and Manchester Railway. But the march of technology could not be stopped – nor could the new challenges it raised. The same is true of today’s digital innovations.

When the L&M Railway eventually opened in 1830, it was a revolutionary success, kickstarting the age of steam and changing the world in ways that could not have been foreseen. As the railway age unfolded, with metal tracks spreading across the industrializing world like veins on a leaf, a new level of connectivity was achieved, which criminals were quick to exploit. Indeed, an entire police force eventually had to be created to manage railway security.

With the world on the brink of another revolution in connectivity, especially in terms of infrastructure that will fundamentally change the way we connect with each other, the lessons of this experience should not be ignored. And the coming phase of the digital age will affect far more than just transportation. We are not talking about the Internet of Things, but about the Internet of Everything: a more decentralized digital future, connecting people, data, and objects like never before.

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