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The Year of Cyber Security: How Businesses Respond to Threats

Posted: 9 Oct 2017

The Year of Cyber Security: How Businesses Respond to Threats

If the WannaCry ransomware attack has taught the industry anything this year, it is that companies need to invest serious money into their cyber security to protect their business assets.

This year, experts have been stressing how cyber threats are constantly evolving in their complexities, with recent attacks featuring both ransomware software and worm applications that allow the program to replicate itself onto other systems on the network and continue the infection. The security industry is, therefore, left with only one mission; to respond and grow.

The biggest cyber-attacks of 2017 globally include the previously mentioned WannaCry, which affected a number of businesses in Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Additionally, Petya (also known as NotPetya, Nyetya and Goldeneye), released a month or so after the WannaCry threat. Known as a more advanced ransomware, it infected a number of networks across the world, including some of the biggest companies in Ireland.

The influx of cyber threats this year has made it one of the biggest global threats, so much so that the risk of cyber criminals accessing critical UK computer systems is ranked as one of the top four threats to national security. Therefore, 2017 can perhaps be coined the year of cyber security awareness.

With experts predicting that there will be 200 billion connected things by 2020, software is becoming a fundamental part of our lives, not only in our business environments but in our homes. Our dependence on technology thus makes us vulnerable if the software falls victim to foul-play.

The need for cyber security has been highlighted by Sir John McCanny, Queen’s University Professor, who revealed some fascinating findings about the industry in Northern Ireland earlier in the year. McCanny, of the UK’s leading university lecturers for cyber security, broadcasted that the salaries for cyber security are set to be worth around £60 million per year in Northern Ireland alone, as businesses in this area begin to respond to the threats that target them.

In the conference, the World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit, the focus lay on the future of the digital world and how to secure it against cyber-attacks. For many attendees from commercial backgrounds, however, the conference highlighted the positive imprint that cyber security specialists are making for businesses that operate online.

Talking at the conference, McCanny stated: “At CSIT, we are at an inflection point in our development. The industry is seeing significant growth which we are supporting through our internationally leading research and innovation activities. This is also helping in the development of the next generation of industry leaders to address the widespread demands for cyber security professionals and technologies.”

So, the question the industry is left with is: how do we grow to protect ourselves from cyber threats? Along with the obvious adaptions, such as dedicated cyber security teams, updated protection software and limited access to sensitive data, perhaps the answer lies in company culture.

Companies that neglect the use of employees using their own devices at work could find they are more vulnerable to data breaches, regardless of how much protection they have in place. With many taking their work home or using alternative devices, they can often find themselves victim to cyber threats from unprotected networks.

Commenting on this threat, Eduard Meelhuysen, the head of EMEA at Bitglass said: “The threat of data leakage via unmanaged devices is serious. But having a culture of restricting staff access can actually make an organisation more vulnerable… not less.”

This means that modern companies should allow their employees to work in the manner they wish, both inside and outside the organisation. Companies which enforce restrictions end up encouraging employees to find ways around the system in place. Therefore, adequate security training should be made available to each member of the workforce to help them identify potential cyber threats.

Additionally, preparing yourself should not only be limited to preventing threats but should also include creating redundancy plans. There should be appropriate methods in place to recover lost items including somewhere independent where data is backed up.

With all of this in mind, it is no surprise that for any business, the cyber security specialist is a valuable asset, and this has resulted in cyber security becoming one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Therefore, those looking for cyber security jobs in Ireland will find them plentiful, and we have a number of businesses looking for cyber security specialists to join their workforce. If you’re looking for a role within this department, get in touch today.

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