Cyber Resilience: Towards a secure and safe digital world

January 11, 2021 1:15 AM

Safety in the new normal is rooted in cybersecurity and privacy

In the hybrid workplace of the future, identity becomes the new perimeter—the first line of defense for any organisationIn the hybrid workplace of the future, identity becomes the new perimeter—the first line of defense for any organisation

By Sameer Garde

The way I see it, 2020 was the year that the world, as one, stood unfaltering brave in the face of an unprecedented crisis – a crisis that reminded us that our differences are nowhere near as powerful as what binds us together. In this case, it was the safety and well-being— physical and otherwise—of our loved ones and our communities.

But now, the connotations of safety have broadened because the pandemic has caused more people and devices to be connected digitally than ever before. So, in the next normal, the safety of people and assets requires data privacy and security to be a top priority. Additionally, many companies are looking at crafting a digital avatar of their business model. A McKinsey survey found that almost 50% of companies are increasing digitisation of their customer channels via e-commerce, and 35% have further digitised their supply chains.

As a result of this rapid shift to remote operations, the attack surface has become broader and more complex. A Cisco study found that cyber threats have risen by over 25% since the beginning of the pandemic for more than 65% of companies in India. This means that companies must reimagine their IT infrastructure with cybersecurity at its core to achieve two primary goals —secure a hybrid workforce and ensure consumer privacy and data compliance.

Securing a distributed workforce
In the hybrid workplace of the future, identity becomes the new perimeter—the first line of defense for any organisation. IT teams must look at scaling VPNs and multifactor authentication (MFA) to verify each user’s identity before allowing them access to the network. As companies fast-track their move to the cloud, it’s crucial to deploy secure access services edge architecture (SASE) to ensure protection for multi-cloud access. SASE helps in defending against Internet-based threats, regardless of the connection, user device, or cloud environment. Lastly, securing the newly distributed workforce must be grounded in zero trust, an approach that assumes that all environments are compromised and works to identify and respond to threats in real-time.

Protecting consumer privacy and ensuring data compliance
Security isn’t something that happens in the backend anymore. Data privacy and cybersecurity are becoming a significant concern for consumers, influencing the businesses they choose to engage with. Leaders must take conscious and active measures to improve data privacy and consumer confidence about how their data is being used. The first step is to provide transparency on how they use customer data. Next, they need to adopt the right tools and technologies to ensure that their customers’ information is safe from the get-go. And most importantly, they must comply with their geography’s data privacy norms.

We often think of cybersecurity in the context of businesses, but it goes far beyond that. For instance, the early years of this decade will be focused on immunising 7.8 billion people . Technology will be the prime enabler in this herculean task.

We are already seeing examples of the vaccine supply chain being targeted by hackers, and this is just the start. The need of the hour is to foster a culture of cyber resilience, where security becomes fundamental to everything we do. I believe that 2021, like its predecessor, will be a year of safety, but one that will be rooted in digital trust, with cybersecurity and data privacy at the core.

The writer is president, Cisco India & SAARC

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