Exploration and evolution are written into the very fabric of humanity. Since the planets in our solar system were named, traveling to Mars has been nothing short of a farfetched dream. However, the rapid rise of digital transformation has changed the world we live in, connecting continents and laying the foundation for meaningful space travel.
The discourse surrounding space travel took another step toward becoming reality recently as NASA’s new Mars rover, Perseverance, touched down on the red planet. Simultaneously, Elon Musk has been capturing headlines with the promise that humans will land on Mars by 2026. While technology is helping to bring humanity’s dream of populating the red planet to fruition, the effects of digital transformation have spurred several cybersecurity concerns for our current, and increasingly interconnected, world. Indeed, these concerns are so pressing that one could suggest that achieving cybersecurity is actually harder than sending humans to Mars.
No, this is not hyperbole intended to belittle the work of NASA or Musk’s SpaceX. Currently, our cultural zeitgeist may be defined as the age of information and space travel. However, as with most cases of convenience, the drive of digital transformation has revealed several security shortfalls and the increasing amount of data in circulation has led to a huge increase in cybercriminal activity.
First, the information generated, processed and used by an enterprise is considered to be its most valuable asset. The disclosure or compromise of this asset can severely impact an organization’s reputation as well as incur large regulatory fines, depending on where you operate. Data is now touted as “the new gold” and, as a result, many cybercriminals are turning their attention to these vast troves of highly regulated information. In many cases, it is a matter of when, not if, these cybercriminals will breach highly regulated data stores and infiltrate sensitive systems. In fact, the profit from cybercrime is estimated to be higher than the trade value of all major illegal drugs combined, yet still not enough emphasis is placed on cybersecurity controls.
The interconnected world has allowed technology to permeate practically every facet of daily life, but, unfortunately, many of the devices we use are not adequately secured. The rise of the internet of things (IoT) has undoubtedly made life easier, helping us maintain routines and connectivity through an increasingly digitalized world. However, the unfortunate fact is that every convenience comes with its own risk.
Every Google search, every “Like” on Facebook, every purchase with our credit card generates data that is designed to be stored and analyzed. Data makes the world go ’round, and the magnitude of our digital footprint has become unimaginable. Yet, all this information must be stored somewhere, and the result is often a tempting target for cybercriminals. The problem is this: we have created a new domain upon which we depend, but the culture of security currently observed throughout this domain is simply inadequate.
Complex vs. Complicated
There are two mathematical concepts that, we believe, conceptualize the concerns surrounding cybersecurity: complex and complicated. On one hand, complicated problems are just that – complicated, but substantial investment of time and resources can make a complicated concept a concrete reality. Sending a rocket to Mars is a complicated task and requires huge effort, but it is looking amore likely with every passing day. This does not detract from the impressive feat of sending humans to space. Instead, it simply highlights the influence that technology has on our lives; opening doors that were previously sealed shut. Cybersecurity, on the other hand, is complex. The continuously evolving technology landscape, the rapidly evolving attack surface with no clear or defined boundaries, the constantly emerging threats and the strong human element in the design of digital systems, are just few of the unpredictable vectors that signal opportunities for the introduction of flaws that are likely to become vulnerabilities.
Over the past several decades, our world has moved from complicated to complex. Complexity creates a fundamentally different situation compared to the complicated challenges of the past. Complicated problems required great effort to solve, but ultimately yielded. While only time will tell if Musk’s prediction of sending humans to Mars by 2026 will come true, every day brings us closer to genuine space travel as we strive to solve complicated problems. Complexity means that, in spite of our increased capabilities to track and measure, the world has become, in many ways, vastly less predictable. Things that are complex have no such degree of order, control or predictability. Anyone that has operated within a cybersecurity team knows that cybercriminals are anything but predictable.
Taking Back Control
From that perspective, cybersecurity is, indeed, harder than going to Mars, and, perhaps, more important, too, when you consider the sheer volume of data being processed daily.
We find ourselves in a defining moment of human history, and unless organizations begin to adopt new security models and integrate cybersecurity risk management as part of their decision-making process, this era will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The need to rebuild things from the ground up has become more important than ever. Organizations, regardless of their size, must endure the existing shortcomings and adopt new security models that can provide active insight into your risk profile to help manage risk and ensure security. Cyber risk management, in real-time, is the strongest weapon we have in fighting toward the unified goals of trust, privacy and cybersecurity and preventing a cyberattack before it becomes a reality.