Laying the Foundations for a Cyber Resilient Future

Guest post by Jason Ward, Vice President and Managing Director, Dell Technologies Ireland

With citizens, governments, and businesses more dependent than ever on digital connectivity, one of the most pressing sectoral issues for this decade is cybersecurity.

While this issue has been in the public consciousness for some time now, there is still a wide perception gap in Ireland between business leaders who consider cyber security a priority, and the lack of implementation of security strategies within their own organisations[1].

The reality is that cybercrime is showing no signs of slowing down, posing risks across all aspects of society. In 2021, ransomware attacks were up 150% and more than 80% of experts say this growth is now threatening public safety[2]. Here in Ireland, the Garda National Cybercrime Bureau has seen a significant increase in the number of ransomware attacks in 2021[3]. These statistics demonstrate the gravity and prevalence of cybercrime today. The question is, as we focus on global recovery, and a new era of economic growth, how do we protect against cyber threats?

In order to deliver on globally ambitious designs of digital inclusion, sustainability, improved health outcomes, defence, and much more for the economies of tomorrow; cyber resiliency is a key building block and enabler.

The adverse financial impacts involved with cybercrime are seismic, and unsustainable for economies to absorb long-term. It’s no secret that advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and IoT are the key building blocks for future progress, but perhaps ironically, it’s these same technologies that can present new opportunities for cybercriminals.

The ultimate challenge will be securing such technologies and enabling more resilient, long-term solutions to the threats posed by cybercriminals. To make this vision a reality, the need for collaboration and support between the public and private sectors has never been more vital.

SME Cyber support vital for the wider economy

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of local economies. Yet they increasingly find themselves the target of cyberattacks. Almost one in three small and medium firms in Ireland say they have experienced some form of cybercrime in the past year, according to an EU survey. Irish SMEs recorded above-average levels of incidents with ransomware compared to other EU countries[4].

It is essential that we work to support and protect such businesses, particularly as we look to build more resilient, balanced societies. SMEs, unlike other businesses, often require and are entitled to greater government support and nurture. Governments that recognise SMEs as integral to a truly flourishing society will empower and deliver the most economic progress. Helping these smaller organisations protect themselves against the ever-growing cybersecurity threat must be a priority for public sector recovery strategists, in the months and years ahead.

The convergence of proactive and reactive digital resilience strategy is now imperative across organisations, businesses, and industries – cybersecurity defences alone are no longer enough. Organisations need to integrate resilience into all areas of their businesses’ digital transformation planning and operations[5]. This will be a key focus of the Dell Technologies Forum, which we will be hosting at the Convention Centre on September 27th.

Public to Private Sector Empowerment

It is now more important than ever that public sector infrastructure empowers business resilience to help identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover from a cyberattack and enable a rapid return to fully functioning operations. Even with strong cyber defences in place, it’s impossible for companies to avoid all cyber disasters and their resultant, adverse impacts on data, privacy, and trust. Therefore, the key objective should be developing a cyber resilience strategy that can anticipate and quickly recover from significant disruption.

One essential component of such resilience is to create and implement thorough cybersecurity training exercises amongst workforces. This not only prepares employees to identify security risks and lures, but also heightens awareness and reinforces the need for teamwork, skills, and collaboration across the whole organisation.

From the development of a baseline security standard to be applied by all Government Departments and key agencies through to the creation of a Public Sector IT Security Forum to facilitate information sharing and support the deployment of the baseline security standard, it’s positive to see Government prioritise a top-down and unified approach to cyber security within our public services.

However, given the fast pace of digital transformation and the ever-evolving nature of cyber threats, there is a need to ensure even closer links between Government and industry so that Irish businesses and the public sector remain one step ahead of any cyber threats before they emerge.

As innovation transforms our economy, helping it to meet pressing challenges in areas ranging from education to justice to health, so too should our cyber resilience strategies be evolving to ensure the continuity of these vital services.

By adopting a proactive, collaborative and unified approach to cyber resilience, we can turbocharge our long-term economic prosperity and innovation, creating a more agile and resilient infrastructure that provides the digital defences crucial to modern Ireland’s recovery.

To register for the Dell Technologies Forum on September 27th at the Convention Centre, visit: https://events.dell.com/event/14f9f60b-bbb9-4e58-bbef-ab6206452026/summary

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