My client specialised in cybersecurity solutions for many different industries. This white paper highlighted cybersecurity issues and solutions for the heavy industry sector. To bring the scenarios to life I introduced a parallel with those who threatened the new industries of the 18th century – the Luddites.
THE BEATING HEART OF BUSINESS
Heavy industrial companies are in one way or another at the center of most human activity, from how we live, work, and interact, to our means of production and travel. They may often be taken for granted, but are the core of national infrastructure, and the prime drivers of the global economy.
But what exactly does the term ‘heavy industry’ encompass? There’s some discussion about how broad a definition it should be, but in general, and for the purpose of this paper, it refers to the following sectors:
Nearly all of these involve enormous investment in huge plants, advanced machinery, and the latest technology. This is all the more likely to put them at odds with those who might seek to do them down in one way or another. However, this is by no means a new phenomenon.
The term ‘luddite’ is now generally used to describe people who are dismissive of, or simply unfamiliar with, new technology. But historically speaking, it had a much more precise definition.
The Industrial Revolution began in the middle decades of the 18th century, when predominantly rural, agrarian societies became industrial and urban, with production moving from being hand- to machine-based.
It was primarily driven by textile manufacturing, and by the early 19th century, the textile sector was the leading heavy industry of its day.
Luddites were a secret organization of English textile workers. They were concerned that their jobs were being replaced by technology and they decided to take matters into their own hands – literally – by smashing textile machines.
The rebellion started in Nottingham in 1811, spreading across other industrial areas and lasting until 1816.
Mill and factory owners took to shooting protestors to try and curtail the vandalism. Eventually, it was the courts, new legislation, and military means that put an end to the rebellion.
One of the few prominent supporters of the Luddites was the romantic poet Lord Byron. Ironically, it was his daughter, Ada Lovelace, who combined the technology of the analytical engine with the Jacquard loom to produce complex textiles more easily, thereby becoming the world’s first computer programmer. So, in her case, she was perhaps not quite a (silicon) chip off the old block.
From Luddites to cybercriminals
The original Luddites were driven by the threat or reality of lost jobs to use the most primitive means to try and destroy the technology of their day.
Nowadays, by contrast, cybercriminals make use of the latest technology and are generally extremely adept at using it. Where the Luddites used the force of their bodies, a modern cybercriminal potentially needs just one finger to cause havoc.
But what motivates those today who wish to disrupt or destroy heavy industry?