For the EU, the U.S., and many countries around the world, October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, a time to broaden awareness and expand the conversation on staying safe and secure online. This time of year presents an opportunity to reflect on the state of cybersecurity.
The Era of Exponential Connectivity
We live in ultra-connected digital world where people, processes, data, and things are connected in ever more imaginative ways. The digital age has spawned an era where 30 million new devices are connected to the Internet every week. IoT devices create almost 300 times the data that people create and that number will increase exponentially as we connect more devices. Mobility, cloud computing, smart devices, and our ability to connect globally in real time are so pervasive today that we already take them for granted.
Recent Cisco research forecasts that there will be at least 50 billion connected devices by 2020. By 2018, 78 percent of all computing will be done in the cloud. By 2025, 1 million new devices are projected to be connected to the Internet every hour. Global mobile data traffic will reach 11 exabytes (EB) per month by year’s end, and 49 EB per month by 2021. To put that in perspective: 1 EB is equivalent to 1 billion gigabytes; 5 EB equals all the words ever spoken by human beings.
Who could have anticipated this level of connectivity and growth even a decade ago?
Preparing for Tomorrow
So how can we prepare today for tomorrow’s threats? To be successful in the age of digital disruption, we need to commit to cybersecurity that enables as a critical foundation. To capture the benefits of this digital age, cybersecurity must be sewn tightly into the fabric of every business and it’s processes. It has to be a mindset that permeates governments, businesses, education, and our lives.
According to the National Association of Corporate Directors’ Handbook on Cyber-Risk Oversight, “some estimates predict that between $9 and $21 trillion of global economic value creation could be at risk if companies and governments are unable to successfully combat cyber threats.”
Cyber and financial controls need to be on par, businesses must ensure the protection of their customer’s as well as their own information.
With the imminent enforcement of GDPR across the EU and having global reach, businesses obligations now exceed protection against a breach. It extends to disclosing the risks companies face from cyberattacks and revealing more readily and quickly when a breach occurs.
Businesses need to approach cybersecurity as a strategic business imperative, not a defensive necessity. Cybersecurity needs to be a cornerstone of our digital strategy and the business strategy.
Skills Gap is a Big Challenge
Looking to the future one of the greatest hindrances to executing a comprehensive security strategy is a growing skills gap. With more than 1 million global cybersecurity jobs unfulfilled there is an urgent need for diverse thinking, diverse candidates, and a diverse workforce to fill these roles.
While globally women hold about half of the nontechnical positions, they account for only 25 percent of computing-related jobs, and 11 percent of the information security workforce. We can’t possibly meet the needs of the Digital Age if only one in four STEM professionals are women, and less than half of them are focusing on security.
Building a culture of cybersecurity is critical for any organization as is creating advocates in functions beyond the security team. Industry and government can help by partnering with learning institutions to raise awareness and promote available opportunities to train IT and security professionals, as well as the general public. Educators must continuously develop creative new training approaches that will prepare the next-generation workforce for the cybersecurity needs of the future.
The Future is Still Bright, Despite These Challenges
Every individual with an online presence must get involved. Stay informed, apply the appropriate security controls, share what’s working and work on what needs to improve. Help one-another to be cyber resilient and raise our collective security posture. Safe web, email, and social media habits, patching and updating systems, and better password management are actions we can all take today.
October is a time to lean in and engage. Learn new techniques and share your insights with your colleagues, family, friends, and us. The European Cyber Security Month, as well as other cybersecurity advocacy programs around the globe offer tremendous resources.
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