Rapid technological change has resulted in many aspects of our lives being connected and affected by digital communications. The interconnectivity of people, devices and organisations at the dawn of the digital age has opened up a whole new playing field of vulnerabilities; access points where cyber criminals can infiltrate.
New product launches, mergers, acquisitions, market expansion, and introductions of new technology are always increasing: these changes invariably have a complicating impact on the strength and breadth of an organisation’s cyber security, and its ability to keep pace with constantly evolving technologies.
Cyber criminals are working on new techniques for getting through the security of established organisations, accessing everything from IP to individual customer information, they are doing this so that they can cause damage, disrupt sensitive data and steal intellectual property.
Inevitably, attacks are becoming more sophisticated and harder to defeat, and because of this ongoing development, nobody knows what kind of threats will emerge next year, in five years’ time, or in 10 years’ time. Organisations, therefore, must be prepared for the unpredictable, so they have the resilience to withstand unforeseen, high impact events.
Senior executives need to make it their prerogative to understand cyberspace. If they don’t understand they will either take on more risk than they would knowingly accept, or miss opportunities to further their strategic business objectives such as increasing customer engagement or market leadership. These organisations are more likely to suffer embarrassing incidents, and when they do, they will suffer greater and longer-lasting impact.
Understanding cyber risks and rewards is also fundamental to trust. If organisations can’t maintain a trusted environment in which to communicate and interact with their customers, their business could suffer.
The Internet of Things
With billions of people connected to the internet today, and the number of connected devices to exceed 50 billion by the year 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a major transformation in a digital world that has the potential to affect everyone and every business.
The IoT will help to enable an environment with the flexibility to provide services of all sorts, ranging from home automation to smart retail/logistics, and from smart environmental monitoring to smart city services.
Although the internet of things (IoT) has many potential benefits, it also increases information security and legal liability risk. The real change is not that machines are communicating with each other, but that people are communicated more and more through machines, creating an intrinsic security problem with a myriad of cyber threats, including; impersonation, identity theft and hacking.
The IoT will increasingly rely on cloud computing, and smart devices with sensors built in, along with thousands, maybe millions of applications to support them. The issue is that the truly integrated environments needed to support this connected technology are not available, and cloud computing is in need of serious improvement, especially in terms of security.
A Growing Job Market
The growing threat of cybercrime is creating a wide range of career opportunities. The cyber attack on Sony towards the end of last year showed, not only the lengths that determined hackers will go to in targeting a company, but also the detrimental impact they can have.
Such attacks will expose vulnerabilities in corporate cyber security and the way in which companies and governments respond to the threat presented by today’s sophisticated breed of hackers. Engineers in the cyber security field are at the forefront of efforts to protect countries and private companies from attacks by digital criminals.
Cyber-security engineers can be involved in anything including managing networks to keep hackers at bay, testing networks to measure their vulnerabilities and forensic analysis of attacks and new malware to fully comprehend the nature of a threat. Engineers can also be involved in advising organisations and government departments on the latest trends and threats, as well has how to protect themselves from hackers.