Cybersecurity Today Is Treated Like Accounting Before Enron

Last week, we learned that researchers had discovered two major flaws in microprocessors of nearly all the world’s computers. The revelation came on the heels of a distressing series of major hacks: In 2017, Yahoo revealed that all of its three billion accounts were compromised, WannaCry ransomware shut down hospitals across the globe, and an Equifax breach affected approximately 145.5 million consumers in the United States. The latest news about the computer security problems — whose names, “Spectre” and “Meltdown,” appropriately convey their seriousness — is just the latest evidence that true digital security remains out of our reach.

But when these vulnerabilities are exposed and damaging attacks occur, there are few lasting repercussions. Almost without fail, stock prices bounce back, customers return, executives keep their jobs or exit with golden parachutes, and government mostly looks the other way. After the news of Equifax’s massive breach, for example, the company’s stock dropped roughly 35 percent. But it’s already recovered nearly half of its lost market value, and Fortune reported that the former chief executive officer Richard Smith retired with as much as $90 million in compensation. Resilience is one of the hallmarks of stable, mature markets, but something isn’t right here.

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