Cybersecurity isn't in the periphery anymore. It's not something you give five minutes of thought to at a corporate meeting and then forget about for the rest of the year. Instead, it's front and center. It's in the headlines. It surrounds us all the time - whether we're reading the newspaper or going to the movies. And now, it's reached the Oval Office.
From The White House, A Big Push For Cybersecurity
Recently, President Barack Obama stood before the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to discuss an effort on the federal governmental level to work in conjunction with the private sector in order to keep the country, its businesses and its citizens safe from the threats posed by cybercrime. In the years since Obama has been in office, the cyberthreat atmosphere has evolved significantly. Five years ago, it might have been hard to envision a cyberattack as a potential act of terrorism. Today, that is an unfortunate reality.
"Cyberthreats are an urgent and growing danger," Obama said in his speech. "Much of our critical infrastructure - our financial systems, power grids, pipelines, healthcare systems - run on networks connected to the Internet. So this is a matter of public safety and of public health."
As Obama pointed out, when it comes to cybersecurity, there is no such thing as an either-or approach. Therefore, if only businesses took up cybersecurity preparedness, that would end up falling just as short as if only the government took it up. In order to best defend against the rampant threats out there, preparedness needs to be a joint effort between industry and government. And the White House is not falling short in its commitment to maintaining a high standard of security awareness and preparation.
The thing about cybersecurity is that just as the good guys work to strategize better preparedness approaches, so too are the bad guys hunting for new ways to outsmart them. Just when one malicious threat is suppressed, another one arises. That's the way it has been, and, as Obama pointed out, that's the way it's going to continue to be. The key, therefore, is not only going to be to put a stop to threats as they arise, but to come up with ways of eliminating them before they even materialize..
A Look At The Government's Cybersecurity Efforts
A White House blog post that was put out shortly after Obama's speech outlined the steps the president and the rest of the government are taking to ensure that cybersecurity becomes a central focus in the months and years ahead. Here are some of the steps that will be taken:
- Federal standards for breach reporting: Some of the most high-profile breaches in 2014 gained significant media attention because of the time that elapsed between when the incident actually happened and when the breached enterprise chose to inform those affected. When a malicious intrusion occurs, there should be little to no lag time between the impacted organization learning about it and when it is letting its patrons know. In order to ensure that transparency is maintained throughout this process, one of the main steps the White House is taking is to standardize breach reporting at the national level. What this will do is create no ambiguity for breached businesses. If you're attacked, you must report it.
- Greater commitment among law enforcement to tracking cybercrime: Cybercrime is a sophisticated criminal enterprise these days. Therefore, fighting it will mean deploying the best in law enforcement. As Obama outlined, the federal government will work toward making sure that law enforcement prioritizes cybercrime. It will do this by outfitting law enforcement workers with the "appropriate tools to investigate, disrupt and prosecute cyber crime," according to the White House release.
- Money toward cybersecurity education: One of the most important factors in defeating cybercrime is training a new generation of young people to identify and destroy malicious threats. To that end, the Department of Energy is allocating $25 million over the next five years for the education of cybersecurity professionals. Cybersecurity already represents a very lucrative career path, with an average salary of $116,000 annually, so it'll be no surprise to see cybersecurity professionals cropping up more frequently in the coming years.
- Information sharing between private sector and government: As President Obama discussed, the most robust cybersecurity plan is one in which enterprises and the government work together to defeat the many threats circulating the cybersphere. In order to accomplish that, Obama proposed a system wherein cybersecurity data can be shared among different private sector organizations, and then that data can also be shared between the private sector and the government. The aim here is to work more quickly and efficiently toward pinpointing and quashing threats.However, this proposal has turned some heads due to its apparent compromising of patrons' personal data. To that, the White House blog stated, "The proposal would ... safeguard Americans' personal privacy by requiring private entities to comply with certain privacy restrictions such as removing unnecessary personal information and taking measures to protect any personal information that must be shared in order to qualify for liability protection."
With White House Efforts On The Table, Time For Your Business To Prepare
With Obama's speech and proposals calling lots of attention to cybersecurity and enterprise preparedness, eyes will likely be falling on companies like yours wondering if you are prepared to handle the cybercriminal atmosphere. In order for your organization to be as ready as possible - and to remain in line with the goals outlined by Obama - it needs to make sure certain security bases are covered. These include:
- Protecting all email communications: A company email account often represents one of the easiest platforms for a hacker to breach. Cybercriminals are especially fond of intercepting data that's in transit on your business's email system. But, by pursuing an encrypted email solution, you can significantly reduce the possibility that your company's email will be targeted.
- Making sure mobile devices are secure: In an age of enterprise mobility, hackers are counting on someone from your business to leave his or her company-connected smartphone lying around so they can commandeer it and penetrate the organization's system. Mobility, related tools and the remote workforce that it has enabled are great and all, but they need to be stringently guarded. Therefore, ensure that mobile device management covers all mobile devices within your business' network.
By following these tips and staying on top of cybersecurity news, you can remain one step ahead of hackers.