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Are we in danger of accepting data leaks as the norm?

The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change. We have all seen the rapid development and application of new technologies as most companies have been forced in some way to adapt their work processes to deal with the crisis. Many firms have made it possible for staff to work efficiently from home and, for some, this may even become a permanent arrangement. Others have seized the opportunity to introduce AI and digital technology to the shop floor.

Across the world, the sheer pace of advance has been amazing; Microsoft reckons that two years of digital transformation took place in just two months last year.

All of which is great, except that it has also allowed equally opportunistic cyber criminals to practice their dark arts to even greater effect. According to COVID Crime Index 2021, almost three-quarters (74%) of businesses – particularly those in the financial service sectors – have experienced a rise in cyber-crime since the start of the pandemic. 43% of banks and insurance companies confess that remote working has made them less secure.

And if that’s not worrying enough, we learnt recently (ironically, via a leaked internal memo) that, following a data breach involving 535m users, Facebook is encouraging people to regard this sort of occurrence as the ‘norm’. So, rather than tackling the problem, they are effectively asking customers to accept that security risks are the price of progress. Quite rightly, Facebook’s cynical attitude has prompted a huge outcry.

Personal data is a valuable currency and the need to evolve cyber security is clear. The UK Government has already stated that security standards should be approved across all digital devices. However, any voluntary standards are just that – voluntary. They will need to be reinforced by legislation that compels vendors to make smart devices more secure. Security should not be seen as a separate function left to specialists.

Ultimately, cyber security is everyone’s responsibility. To sit alongside new rules and regulations, there should be a continuous campaign to raise awareness of the threats that inevitably will increase as the sophistication of technology increases. The bad guys, who grow richer at the expense of those who are not technically equipped to defend themselves, will certainly be keeping themselves up to date.

The leaked Facebook memo is a timely reminder that security is vital for the sustainability of all organisations, regardless of size or sector. Make no mistake, cyber criminals are a clear and present danger that is not going to go away or diminish.