From an obscure talking point among computer enthusiasts to globally-transforming technology, in the space of a quarter of a century, the internet and the associated digital revolution have changed every aspect of our lives, from the way we work to the way we live.
It has been estimated that by 2020 there could be four internet-connected devices for every human being on the planet. For most of us it is impossible to imagine life without the digital world. Our social lives, our leisure pursuits and the way we do business depends on this technology.
But the revolutionary effect of digital technology has also brought new risks, in the form of cyber threats that have the potential not just to disrupt lives, facilitate crime and cause mass inconvenience, but also to destroy companies and cripple governments and other organizations.
And as digital technology develops, so does the sophistication of cyber criminals, and as governments and other agencies work hard to develop more effective methods of countering cyber-crime, our ever-increasing reliance on the digital world is increasing our potential exposure to crime.
Digitalisation and the innovation that fuels it has the potential to benefit all of us, and there can be no going back to a pre-digital world, but many of these benefits will be undermined, along with public trust, if cyber security is neglected, by governments, companies, or individuals.
At the government level, the importance of cyber security has been recognised with the introduction of a number of measures designed to tackle new digital security threats. The General Data Protection Action (GDPR) introduced in Europe will safeguard the personal data of citizens, and other measures, such as the Network Information Systems Directive (NIS), will help to protect European infrastructure. Similar measures are being introduced around the world, to ensure that on a global scale, cyber attacks can do minimal damage to the crucial infrastructure that our societies rely on.
But legislation and government action alone cannot secure us all against the threats posed by cyber security breaches. At the level of companies, organizations and even the family, we all have to treat cyber security as seriously as we treat such dangers as theft, vandalism or fraud.
Too many Australian businesses are not taking the cyber threat seriously enough and are relying on outdated or ineffective cyber security measures, putting themselves at risk of serious consequences. A successful cyberattack can cause havoc for any business, exposing itto financial losses, reputational damage and, if it is found that they haven’t protected the data they hold, businesses can find themselves subject to prosecution.
It is also vital for individuals to consider the importance of cyber security. With so much of our financial business conducted online, all of us are at risk of suffering financial losses if we fail to maintain adequate cyber security. Even if you consider yourself a smart financial operator or online investor, it is important that as well as spending time looking for the best CFD broker ratings you also devote time and energy to updating and improving your cyber security.
In the business world there is a particular problem when it comes to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These organizations often lack the resources of larger companies, and as a result are not always effective at implementing cyber security. But SMEs represent the overwhelming majority of businesses in Australia, and it is vital for anyone running an SME to treat cyber security as a top priority.
Resources such as the Australian Cyber Security Service can help organizations, whatever their size, to tighten up their cyber security, and there are many other agencies out there who can offer advice and guidance on how to protect a business or other organization. Ensuring that your IT is up to date, that your staff are fully trained in the basics of preventing opportunistic cyber-crime, and that you retain the services of a qualified IT expert or consultant, are all good first steps, but maintaining effective cyber security is an ongoing process that involves being proactive and vigilant.
As the twenty-first century draws on, the digitalisation process is likely to intensify, but as our reliance on the digital world grows, it is vital that all of us, from governments to business owners to individuals, recognise the threat of cyber-crime and learn how to keep ourselves and our organizations safe in the face of this evolving threat.