Basis for a secure society
We live in an increasingly connected world and this is a development that cannot be stopped. It will bring improved living conditions and health for many, but also increased risks. Cyber security will no longer be a matter for larger companies, but rather something that concerns us all and a prerequisite for our society to function.
The new challenge we are facing is that nearly everything is connected or will be. We're not just talking about consumer products, but factories, infrastructure and even bridges and dams, and things that most of us do not even know can be connected. Sizable parts of our defence will either be connected or dependent on information that is online. We are suddenly going from putting certain information in the cloud to our entire society being connected. This is why cyber security is now hotter than ever. Just a few years ago, considerable time was spent trying to explain why security is important. Today, all are convinced and the challenge is instead in transforming ambitions into reality.
Harder to conduct operations without security focus
It is good that we have gained this focus. We otherwise risk having the disadvantages overshadowing the benefits of the new opportunities. With a connection, new opportunities can obviously be created and we can keep better track of our products, machines and factories. If this occurs at the expense of others accessing the same information, the business arrangement is no longer as attractive as before. At this point, it is essential to analyse the benefits that can be attained and compare them to the costs for a reasonable level of protection.
Moreover, there are a number of security certificates, laws and special standards that apply, depending on the branch. They can be seen as obstacles and cost drivers, but can also be of assistance in finding an appropriate, or at least basic, level of security.
It is sometimes said that those who are not connected will have difficulties in conducting operations in the future. I would like to take that a step further and say that those who are not prepared to invest in securing information flows will have difficulties in conducting operations. It has to do with cyber threats becoming increasingly personal.
Hacker attacks previously were most often directed towards businesses. A company was the victim of industrial espionage and lost confidential information about a patent, another was subjected to extortion and a third had its website overloaded. This is serious, but to be honest, many have not concerned themselves about it all that much. Now it is different. We are heading towards a situation where our personal hospital records risk being stolen, our cars can be reprogrammed and societal functions that affect our day-to-day lives can be taken down. In a nutshell, it is no longer about nuisances, but rather about our lives and well-being. This consequently gives security an entirely different magnitude and our trust in a company or brand is increasingly linked to how secure we feel it is.
NEW QUESTIONS FOR SENIOR MANAGEMENT
For some companies, this is a bigger step than for others. Those already working with security have a lower threshold to cross in addressing cyber security. Those who have never needed to concern themselves, because their products are too simple to constitute a security risk, must now begin thinking along entirely new lines, which can be trying both for senior management and the rest of the organisation.
In many cases, the first group has become involved in cyber security at an early stage, which is entirely natural because they already have security on the agenda. Many companies in the second group often wait too long. When they finally realise the need, it feels bewildering and they seldom know where to begin. When I meet customers in this situation, they often want help fast, preferably yesterday.
Cyber security basically a societal question
Even if many companies have a longer journey to make, it is fundamentally good that the security issues regarding digitalisation and connection have suddenly become a hot topic for all. Because ultimately, it is not just a question of profitability, but rather a societal question.
This past spring's attacks against the major Swedish newspaper publishers is a good example of this. Imagine if the dark forces had gone a step further and actually taken control of news dissemination. What would have happened if they'd begun spreading their propaganda? My guess is that if they were sufficiently skilled, they could have created a picture of reality among the general public that would have taken quite some time to correct. This is why cyber security issues are so hot just now. With the new opportunities at our doorstep, it is a matter of businesses’ profitability, our own day-to-day lives as well as society’s most fundamental functions.