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Cyber Heroes Wanted

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Today’s digital environment has brought about unprecedented changes in how we live and do business. The exponential growth of the digital world entails equally exponential growth of the threats to which we are exposed. Cybersecurity has become an essential pillar for companies on which no resource should be spared. The experience and training of the professionals who fight these threats, true cyber heroes, are vital.

The modern world can be understood as the result of the evolution of three different environments. For humanity, Environment One, nature, dates back two hundred thousand years, to the Paleolithic, in which our greatest threat was predators. Eventually, we made the leap to Environment Two, consisting of towns and cities, to which society has not yet fully adapted, as witnessed by the cancer rates, autoimmune diseases or heart problems that still persist today. Finally, Environment Three, is the digital world, at which we have arrived almost without realizing it, and whose consequences and ramifications are still unknown.

One of the reasons for the giant question mark that hangs over this third environment is society’s lack of preparedness to make the jump from the previous stage. In the current digital environment, in which robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning prevail and information flows from one point to another in milliseconds, if Facebook were a country, it would have a population of 2 billion. Nobody knows the consequences of all this or how to adapt to it.

Without the necessary awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and its implications, the fight against constant cyber threats is doomed to fail.

Acceleration of Cyber Threats

One key variable to understanding the current environment is growth rates, which are unparalleled in any previous era. The first major paradigm shift was the opening of the iPhone and other smartphone platforms to app developers. What nobody bothered to mention was that the system vulnerabilities would grow apace. What’s more, not only have they skyrocketed quantitatively, they have developed qualitatively, too, vastly increasing the complexity and sophistication of cyber threats.

It is important to understand that society’s ability to thrive in the technological world is subject to an undeniable fact: there is always another cyberattack ahead. To mitigate this threat, a new class of professionals has emerged, who could be called “cyber heroes,” and whose job it is to stand between us and millions of threats each day. For society to take advantage of the advances that Environment Three has ushered in, the work that these “anonymous” workers do in the shadows is essential. Unfortunately, cyberattacks are constant and can bring down the amazing cybersecurity work of months in a matter of seconds, the time it takes a hacker to break through the barriers put into place.

That is what makes training and experience essential for these professionals to excel in their jobs, spearheading their company’s security. The figures can be alarming. ISACA, for example, has predicted that there will be a shortage of more than two million workers in the cybersecurity industry by 2019. The good news is that the demand for cybersecurity professionals is three times higher than that for IT professionals in general.

The digital world has experienced unrestrained, anarchic growth, which entails certain security risks that must be addressed. Our bulwarks in this fight are cyber heroes.

The Value of Information

Without the necessary awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and its implications, the fight against constant cyber threats is doomed to fail. One need only compare the nature of the threats in Environment Two to those of the current digital environment. It used to require a good dose of courage and a gun to hold up a bank; today it is possible to attack an entire country or organization simply with a keyboard and a mouse. Undoubtedly, this is the main reason for the exponential growth in cyberattacks. Today, the biggest prize is information, because it is a multibillion-dollar industry.

Without security, many everyday activities in the digital world would not be possible. In aviation, for instance, nobody would catch a flight or consider travelling any distance high in the sky without certain security guarantees.

We can therefore conclude that Environment Three and cybersecurity are virtually synonymous. The fact that the gradual implementation of the so-called Internet of Things will require us to secure all our devices and connected systems, too, must also be taken into account. We may soon be able to use technology to control our very hearts. The digital world has experienced unrestrained, anarchic growth, which entails certain security risks that must be addressed. Our bulwarks in this fight are cyber heroes.

 

Tomás de Lara, Professor at IE School of Human Sciences and Technology.

© IE Insights.

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