Digital convergence constitutes the full realization of the Information Age and provides the foundation to link cultural, personal, business, governmental, and economic affairs into a rapidly expanding global digital world called cyberspace. However, this linking of people around the globe is challenging the government to actively work with private industry to ensure its critical infrastructures and associated information is adequately protected. The purpose of this chapter is to explain how digital convergence is affecting the public sector and the need for a cybersecurity policy that includes the active involvement of both the public and private sectors. Digital convergence has made incredible inroads thanks to rapidly developing technologies such as the ubiquitous Internet, seemingly endless bandwidth (including wireless), and rapid advances in computer processing power that are all responsible for the processing, transporting, and storing of digital information throughout cyberspace. Moreover, these technologies have brought about the collision of three colossal industrial segments within the private sector—(a) computing, (b) consumer electronics, and (c) telecommunications providers—and are providing a multitude of compatible services via various digital devices (Figure 1). Without a doubt, the explosion of digital convergence has produced a flourishing multimedia, multidevice, and multitasking environment (Baker & Green, 2004). A significant impact of a converged society is the empowerment of individuals (consumers) and organizations to collaborate and compete on a global scale. Most importantly, however, these highly mobile and perpetually connected consumers are putting information at a greater risk as they have access to this information outside of its traditionally protected network boundaries in an environment where this information is increasingly vital to the nation’s critical infrastructure assets. The government must be able to effectively secure the information flowing throughout cyberspace.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Digitization: Digitization is the process of converting data or information into a digital format, usually from analog format.
Digital: The term digital describes data or information stored as a series of ones and zeros for a computing device to understand and manipulate.
Cyberspace: It is a term used to describe the virtual, global network of connected digital devices.
Digital Convergence: Digital convergence is the ability to access all forms of information in cyberspace.
MP3: MP3 is short for MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3. It is a popular compressed audio file format that efficiently stores and plays on computers and many portable digital devices.
Evolution Data Optimized: (EVDO): EVDO is a high-speed network protocol used for wireless Internet communications. Much like other broadband Internet technologies (i.e., cable modem), EVDO is an always-on service that does not need establishment of a slow dial-up connection.
Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transported within a specific amount of time; it is usually expressed in bits per second for digital transmission.
Information Age: The term refers to the period after the industrial age; it is applied to the period beginning around the 1980s, when the movement of information became faster than physical movement.
Telecommunications: It is the long-distance transmission of voice, video, text, or images over a communications line, such as a modem, fax machine, telephone line, or fiber optic cable.
Creator-Collaborator: A creator-collaborator is one who aggressively uses technology to enhance his or her lifestyle and career.
Broadband: This applies to the high-speed transport of data over a single transmission line, such as a cable TV modem.
Dual Core: This technology combines two microprocessors onto a single integrated computer chip to handle digital computations in parallel, which significantly improves speed and performance.
Information Infrastructure: This is the system of public and private communications networks, interactive capabilities, hardware, software, computers, and consumer electronics that provide information to users. The Internet is one element of the information infrastructure.
Critical Infrastructure: The critical infrastructure refers to the physical or virtual systems and assets so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of these systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on national security, national economics, national public health or safety, or any combination.