Cybersecurity is like participating in a marathon and running to succeed



Malicious hacking in the 1960s was not common with huge computers that were kept under lock and key in temperature-controlled rooms.  With limited access to computers there were only researchers and some curious hackers who did attempt to hack, but not for financial reasons.

Cybersecurity entered on the stage in the 1980s with antivirus software getting introduced.  The late 1990s saw the beginning of online interactions, wherein e-mails were commonly used.  Despite bringing a paradigm shift in communication, this tool became the entry-point for viruses too.  Very soon, growing in number, viruses and malware exploded the systems posing a challenge to antivirus vendors.

This ecosystem has since then evolved to what it is today.  The exponentially growing high volume of data breaches caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, adoption of cloud technologies and the accelerating of digital transformation have contributed to the expanding threat landscape.  The situation has led to huge financial losses and customer churns while hurting the brand.

Cybersecurity is crucial today as it has always been and will remain so in the future too.  Protecting our data and addressing the unknown threats is not a sprint as it is loaded with unexpected bends, twists and turns making it a marathon.  By equipping ourselves with the appropriate cybersecurity strategy, we can be proactive in defending against the ever-evolving threats.

Different threat landscapes demand relevant solutions

Only with significant investment in time, efforts and planning, can anyone succeed in completing a marathon.  It is the same case while developing a cybersecurity culture or a strategy in an organisation.

First and foremost, the team should have a thorough understanding of the risk profile and various other cyberthreats the organisation has to deal with.  All aspects that require to be defended, safeguarded and monitored have to be captured. This constitutes the first leg of the race.  The respective teams have to be mobilized with incremental steps taken, along with a robust cybersecurity plan and implementation in place, similar to the marathon team being equipped for the run and to start the race. 

As it is important to follow the rules of the marathon and run forward into the next leg, the cybersecurity teams have to meet the compliance requirements and see that all relevant security measures are in place.

Adequate training is crucial to succeed in risk mitigation

As security teams commit themselves to cybersecurity awareness, training employees is essential, just as regular training and practice are required to participate in a marathon.

Teaching employees to detect phishing mails or ransomware threats can secure them as well as the organisation.  Various methods are deployed to enhance training activities, which should take place on a regular basis to see desired results.  This is similar to incorporating creative activities during the training sessions to the marathon, which is a continuous process too.  Surprises are met by runners at some turns and marathon participants have to be prepared for hurdles and steep climbs. 

The cybersecurity teams have to be prepared to address unknown threats, always keep themselves updated on the latest attacks and regulations while monitoring the threat landscape.  They should not be taken by surprise leading to losing the race. 

Reaching the goal in the marathon is like achieving a measurable outcome in a cybersecurity strategy.  Evaluating the outcomes can actually determine the success of the security plan.

The cybersecurity marathon is measured in years rather than miles or kilometres The difference lies in the fact that there is no finish line here, unlike the marathon.  Security teams have to continue to run in a never-ending race to keep systems, users and networks secure.  True, threats are evolving continuously leading to new use cases, which provides a great learning for security teams. Continuous improvements in the cybersecurity process with implementation of best practices will help teams to succeed in effective risk mitigation and management.

The author is Rajarshi Bhattacharyya, Chairman and Managing Director, ProcessIT Global.

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