The threat of cybercrime, which is a danger not only to individuals and businesses but also to nations, remains a hot topic. Due to the nature of cybercrime and its ability to constantly evolve and outpace the vast majority of cyber security measures, the range and scale of cyberattacks have been consistently growing, with recent attacks such as the Yahoo Data Breach affecting personal data relating to more than three billion people. With such high-profile attacks, however, comes an increased awareness in the general public and a similarly increased ability for cyber defense to learn from them in an effort to diminish future cybercrime. Yet the question still remains: will cybersecurity ever be able to fully contain the threat of cybercrime?  Cyber criminals are moving faster than businesses can deal with them. In a time of accelerated digital disruption where businesses and individuals alike are moving towards increasing usage of technology in all forms, cybercrime is not only becoming more common, but in some ways easier to commit due to the proliferation of these new technologies. Indeed, with BT Group reporting an increase by 57% in cyberattacks since last year alone—with nearly 4,000 reported cyberattacks a day—it’s easy to see that cyber defense will be an absolute necessity for all businesses moving forward. Companies are not prepared to defend against cyberattacks. While an estimated 97% of companies have been the victim of a digital attack, BT Group estimates that only 22% are fully prepared to deal with future incidents. Similarly, they have found that while 71% have procedures in place to review the tools and strategies used by cyber criminals, only 30% understand them—and even more concerning, over 45% of companies lack the skills and people needed to defend themselves at all. Conversely, companies are increasing their digital footprint—and their vulnerability to digital attacks. Around 93% of businesses see digital technologies as a means of creating opportunity, with 19% of organizations having moved all apps and infrastructure to a cloud-based system and a further 46% having moved over half of their apps and infrastructure to a similar system. With increased reliance on digital technologies throughout virtually every business, cyber criminals now have multiple touch points through which they can infiltrate a business’s data and systems. Cyberattacks are often straightforward—and easier to prevent than you think. The majority of cyberattacks begin with the attacker running scripts to find vulnerability in host systems and IP addresses and exploiting any weak points with malicious software. Once vulnerability is found—such as script finding the correct password to a known username—the attacker will then exploit that foothold and move laterally across the network, picking up data from data repositories as it moves along. Luckily, attacks such as these are common and can be tracked using sophisticated artificial intelligence tools. Visual analytics tools can help users visualize data. Using machine learning to create different charts and graphs based on vast quantities of data, human analysts can see patterns in cybercriminal behavior more easily, such as physical locations, traffic, access points and even the timeline leading up to the attack. By looking for spikes of unusual activity in a graph, for example, analysts can focus on certain time frames and use other forms of data visualization to show which port an attacker is attacking from and which host they are attacking. This way, analysts can isolate the host device straight away rather than performing a costly system-wide shut down. The visual analytics tool can also track data back in time. By focusing on the range of suspicious IP addresses identified earlier, analysts can also figure out if an attacker was interested in other hosts sometime in the past—a tool that can help analysts narrow down the source of the attack even more. Using this visual analytics tool, many organizations are now able to accomplish what used to take days in mere minutes. Cyber risk is a challenge for the insurance industry. While cybersecurity remains a constantly evolving issue, it is the job of the insurance industry to help organizations, governments and individuals manage this risk—and while cyber risk will remain a major challenge for some time, the exploration of digital crimes will continue to shape future risk mitigation strategies. Mitigating risk in general is a complex process. First, insurers must understand what they are covering—in the case of insuring a building, for example, information such as physical location of the building and what the building is made up of needs to be known. Second, insurers must figure out what risks the building will face—such as potential weather conditions. Third, insurers need to model the risk using the previous two pieces of information. Fourth, the insurers must make sure the risk is managed and mitigated—such as enforcing building codes. And last, insurers must make sure the risk is transferred. In cyber-related insurance, it is important to create partnerships. Because cyber risk is still relatively new and unknown, the traditional route of mitigating risk remains a challenge. It is important, therefore, that partnerships be created and data shared in order to gain more knowledge in the area of cyber risk and create more models of real risks. Recent trends in cybersecurity are bringing us on the right track. With new digital security technologies being developed at rapid rates, many more outdated forms of cyberattacks are being put to rest. A new multi-disciplinary approach to cyber security. In addition to technology, studies in areas such as economics and behavioral science are being conducted in an effort to not only prevent cyberattacks but to also understand the human element behind the attacks. More focus on fundamental market flaws. Spoofing, which is the practice of creating misleading emails that appear to be from a legitimate source but actually originate from somewhere else, is one such example of a persistent problem found in cybersecurity throughout markets. In order to combat this, the UK government has enacted a system in which if a person is on a public-sector network and wants to connect to a website, there are programs in place to prevent them from accessing websites that may contain potential spoofing and other threats. Through this program, over a billion website attempts are scanned a week, blocking around half a million trips to infected websites. Focus on organization-based defense rather than individual-based defense. While traditional rhetoric often places the burden of cyber defense on employees—such as requiring them to change their passwords often or advising them to not click on risky email links—it is much more effective for the organization to contain the risk before it spreads to a multitude of employees of varying levels of technology defense knowledge. In fact, findings show that current password advice involves the mathematical equivalent of remembering a new 600-digit number every month, an impossible task for any individual. It is a multi-layered defense, therefore, that is needed to make sure no risky links can get to an employee in the first place.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.

And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.

It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.

In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.

Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.

This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?

We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?

Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?

Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.

Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.

These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
Winona Roylance
Winona Roylance serves as a contributing editor and Diplomatic Courier's senior correspondent in Asia.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.