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Cybersecurity Awareness - The Role of Cybersecurity In Today's Interconnected Digital World

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By: Cybrary Staff

October 14, 2021

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: The role of cybersecurity in today's digital world

Cybersecurity is of vital importance in today's hyperconnected world, where threats come from a wide range of sources, such as organized crime and nation-states.

Summary: With October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month, now is the perfect time for organizations and their employees to familiarize themselves with the vital importance of digital security in today's hyper-connected world. This introductory guide serves to acquaint those considering a career in cybersecurity with its core concepts.

While most business leaders are now well aware of the crucial role of cybersecurity in reducing risk, there remains a widespread lack of understanding as to how to roll out a sufficiently robust program.

One of the most common problems is the way many people, company executives included, view cybersecurity. All too often is cybersecurity viewed as a necessary evil, something that business leaders know they need to do but are reluctant to invest in.

The role of cybersecurity in today's hyper-connected digital world has become a core part of the value proposition. This is the case for any business of any size in any industry. After all, customers, investors, and partners are growing cautious about who they do business with.

In light of this increasingly crucial trend, cybersecurity should no longer be viewed merely as a cost center but as an investment in the organization's future and its respective industry. Whether investing in security awareness training or technical and administrative solutions, the case for advancing enterprise information security programs is stronger than ever.

The true cost of a data breach

The cost of information security incidents is increasing all the time. The Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021 by IBM put the average amount of a data breach at $4.24 million, up from $3.86 the year before. This is the highest figure disclosed in the 17-year history of the report, and it comes even despite the growing awareness of cybersecurity globally.

While these figures are only averages taken from a broad range of industries, it is difficult to determine the accurate cost of a data breach on an individual business basis. Some costs are relatively easy to quantify, such as the number of customers who decide to stop working with an organization following a data breach report or legal sanctions following a regulatory compliance failure. However, other costs, such as long-term reputational damage, are far harder to quantify, but, in many cases, they amount to even greater losses. Indeed, many companies never recover from a breach due to the huge costs associated with remediation, especially for those with inadequate incident response and recovery plans. This is why every business must consider that it is not a matter of if a data breach will happen, but when.

How the threat landscape is changing

Change is the only constant in the world of information security. As technology evolves and people and businesses grow more reliant on it, the amount of money to be made continues to grow exponentially.

The increasing accessibility of technology has also made cybercrime more accessible. This is especially the case with malware-as-a-service operations running out of the dark web or the growing prevalence of social engineering attacks. Indeed, the clear majority of cybercriminals have few technical skills themselves instead of using mediums like email and social media as attack vectors. Specifically, skilled hackers, while still presenting the severest of threats, are now a minority.

That said, many cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated, especially those perpetrated by state-sponsored attackers. The digital world is now the fifth theatre of war, adding to the four classical dimensions of land, sea, air, and space. These attackers, acting in the interests of rival states, routinely target critical infrastructure, government organizations, and any other organization that makes up their supply chains.

New and emerging technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence, are also increasingly popular attack vectors. Despite its business benefits, virtual reality might be used to carry out extremely convincing social engineering attacks. Inadequately secured IoT devices can give attackers access to entire networks. AI is a powerful tool for carrying out highly targeted social engineering scams en-mass, just as it is a valuable tool for businesses looking to personalize their marketing efforts.

The rise of the modern CISO

Few roles have changed as enormously in recent years as that of the chief information security officer. Previously, the CISO, known as the overseer of information security operations, frequently said no to innovation in the name of keeping risk to a minimum. Thus, security was widely viewed as a barrier to innovation and digital transformation, and in many cases, it still is. However, that should not be the case; the modern CISO should be the complete opposite.

Instead, cybersecurity should be viewed as a driver of innovation rather than something that hinders it. This changes the dynamic in which cybersecurity measures are typically tacked on later to being deeply ingrained into every business solution and operation. In other words, the modern CISO does not simply say 'no' to new technology but instead asks how new solutions can be implemented safely and without adding operational or business risk. This is how CISOs earn a place in the boardroom as champions of innovation rather than preventers of it.

The modern CISO is the pinnacle of IT and information security and one of the most valued leadership positions in today's enterprises. This is why the median salary of a CISO in the US now stands at well over $220,000. To become a CISO, one must have eight to ten years of experience in IT and/or information security and hold a CISSP, CRISC, or equivalent certification.

With skilled cybersecurity leaders in short supply and the demand enormous and growing year after year, there has never been a better time to take on a career path in the sector. In light of this, it has also never been more crucial for organizations to invest in their employees with comprehensive, team-driven training programs. Contrary to popular belief, cybersecurity is a human challenge more than it is a technical one.

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