The Lovable Defector and the Double-Edged Sword of Technology

Posted on by RSAC Editorial Team

*Warning this post or embedded links may contain spoilers*

Note: This is part three of a five-part monthly series to kick off 2018 in which we take a look at characters from the Star Wars saga and how technology, topics, and trends from the cybersecurity world compare to characters and themes from the blockbuster films.

We hope you enjoy our blog series in which the Resistance, filled with hope and determination, much like that of a Security Operations Center, scurries to stay one step ahead of the evil First Order. Like cyber attackers, the First Order threatens to destroy a way of life that the Resistance so desperately fights to cherish and uphold.

March’s Spotlight Character: Finn
March’s Spotlight Theme:
Technology and Healthcare  

Credit: Disney/Lucas Film

The saga continues – both in a galaxy far, far away and right here, closer to home. Whether you’re an early adopter, fast follower or laggard most of us have as complicated a relationship to technology as Star Wars characters have to the force. It can be an emotional struggle – sometimes on a daily basis - as to whether you feel technology is working as your ally or being used against you.

In Episode VII we first meet Storm Trooper FN-2187 (later known as Finn) whose evolution from Stormtrooper to rebel is both aided and hindered by technology. As a stormtrooper for the First Order, Finn benefits from an essentially unlimited “security spend” marked by access to the latest and greatest when it comes to armor, blasters, and even the Z6 Riot Control Baton. It’s fair to say the First Order is a forward-thinking technology organization, with the budget to back it up – not to mention no talent shortage.

But not all organizations fit this mold as Finn finds out when he gives up all the amenities and technological advances one could ever want or need to join the resource-deprived rebels and their cause. These are the good guys, fighting against Supreme Leader Snoke, the First Order and the fear and anger that fuels the dark side. Although Finn’s conscience is now clear, and the help and support of new found friends Rey and BB8 are a great strength, he is also now being hunted down and forced to face a much better equipped foe. It’s not just that he is outgunned. it’s that the best weapons technology is now in the wrong hands!

Many of us in the cybersecurity industry can probably empathize with Finn’s position. We’re the good guys, and yet we know it’s a daily struggle to use technology to our best advantage to keep our organizations and customers secure and stay ahead of cyber attackers, malicious actors and insider threats. But the bad guys are not only cunning and highly motivated, they are also frequently well-funded and using the most advanced and emerging technologies. 

MORE FROM RSAC: Join us on March 29 for the Virtual Session: Predicting Disruptive Technologies 

Like the First Order, cyber attackers don’t care whether their target is large or small, well-defended or vulnerable. But on the other side, for us, each industry we protect comes with its own challenges. Each organization is unique in terms of cybersecurity sophistication and preparation. We may work with the company version of the fast adopter. Or we may work for a company that’s a laggard.  

We may work in a heavily regulated industry and need to navigate HIPAA regulations if we protect Healthcare organizations or PCI compliance if we’re protecting Financial Services. Often we have to make difficult decisions about where to spend our limited budget, what technologies will best helps us in the heat of battle, while knowing that some of the most exciting ones (such as AI) could very well be used against us.  

It’s not the technology to blame but how it’s being used. Finn finds this out first hand when taken down by Kylo Ren, wielding a lightsaber (also the favored weapon of the Jedi) in Episode VII. And he’s forced to re-learn this hard lesson in Episode VIII when he tries to prevent the resistance from being tracked by sneaking aboard the First Order flagship. In some ways it’s a testimony to his very good guy-esque humanity that he’s undermined, not by technology, but by a conniving underworld codebreaker who foils and deceives him. If technology is the force, may it be your ally this month!

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Part One (January): What Do Star Wars’ Kylo Ren and Data Privacy Have in Common?

Part Two (February): SecDevOps: The Space Cowboys of the Future

RSAC Editorial Team

Editorial, RSA Conference

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