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Five minutes with Enrique Peláez

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Kaspersky Academy continues its new project “Five minutes with…” that will see our partners and renowned university professors answering the Academy’s questions.

The next interlocutor is Enrique Peláez. Professor at Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral – ESPOL. He is the author of several publications in international indexed journals about Computer Engineering, Fuzzy Logic and Management of Uncertainty, Computer Virus, Information and Communications Technologies in Education, Local Development based on ICT, Artificial Intelligence, Expert Systems, among others. Founder and First Executive Director of the Ecuadorian Consortium for Advance Internet Development – CEDIA.  Director of the Information Technologies Research Center at ESPOL. The first research center deployed at the Knowledge Park, PARCON–ESPOL. Scientific Merit Award from ESPOL in 2003, and Institutional Merit Award in 2010.

1) Some people involved in the academic sphere claim that IT security is not a science that can or should be included in university curricula. How would you respond to them?

IT security is a Science. The ACM and IEEE-Computer Society have identified among the knowledge areas, one that is specifically focus on security, which is called “Information Assurance and Security” Information security is a new knowledge area in recognition of the world’s critical reliance on information technology and computing.


2) Who is most interested in enhancing knowledge in areas such as IT security? All branches of government? Intelligence services? Business? Science? Members of the general public? Legal authorities?

The most interested should be the general public. Unless people in general take seriously the risks of online commerce and information sharing, the problems with IT security are not going to get better. The person should be the only owner and manager of his/er own information and security, not someone else on the cloud. Most of the time security problems arise not because the people has not taken the necessary care in protecting their accounts and passwords, but more because we blindly believe the systems are secured and trusted.

3) Is it true that who rules information, rules the world?

Yes, it is said that knowledge and information is the currency of today’s world. Those who possess and control information have the real power, and usually are the most powerful.

4) In the 18th century the doctrine “Back to nature!” was born, calling on mankind to reject technological progress… Is life without computers, cell phones and Internet possible in the 21st century?

First of all, technologies are not an end in themselves; technologies are tools we use to create knowledge and to create personal and social change.
It is also a fact that the world, in which we live, has changed a lot comparing to the world in the 18th century. Life will be possible in the 21st century; however, without technology it will bring back the barriers that got many societies underdeveloped. Modern technologies have provoked one of the most important things of this century: Globalization, which made the world to be closer; that is, we can not only share information quickly and efficiently, but we can also overcome barriers of linguistic and geographic boundaries. Think about education, today’s students take in the world via the filter of computing devices: cellular phones, handheld gaming devices, PDAs, and laptops are taken everywhere, plus the computers, TVs, and game consoles that might be available at home.  The twenty-first century curriculum is interdisciplinary and research-driven. More and more it is connected to the community – local, national and global. Students are able to collaborate with others around the world.  Knowledge is not memorization of facts and figures, but is constructed through research and application of what has been learned and connected to previous knowledge, personal experiences and interests.

5) Science fiction writers predicted planes, submarines, atomic bombs and video phones – but none of them predicted the appearance of the Internet. What is the reason for that?

I am not sure, and it is too strong to state that none have predicted the Internet. There are enough arguments and verifiable facts that might show the opposite; that is, the Internet (as a concept, not the name) was in the mind of science fiction writers long before it actually was created. For example, Arthur Clarke and others have written about teleworking, telemedicine and other ideas in early 60’s.

6) What do you think of predictions that soon the most effective – and therefore only – way to wage war will be to hack the enemy’s computer networks, while tanks, missiles and aircraft carriers will become museum exhibits?

Global communications and digitization has dramatically increased the speed at which information moves about conflicts around the world. Unlike the past, military strategists now have to deal also with the populations’ mind-set, that the enemies can influence, using web sites and chat rooms to pick up the pace, … respond, react, be proactive enough to stay out ahead of the speed of megabytes. They have to find a way to “maneuver around” a potential enemy’s information campaign, and probably hacking into the enemy’s computer networks.
7) If a Nobel Prize was also awarded for IT security, who would be the first winner?

Eugene Kaspersky. For his long track record of technological and scientific, achievements. He is one of the most influential people on IT security and has been on the top list of Global Thinkers his contribution to IT security awareness on a global scale.

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