Shoring up cybersecurity amid a geopolitical crisis
The war in Ukraine has exposed the need for firms to have a robust cybersecurity strategy in place alongside a young talent pool
As the war in Ukraine continues to unfold, the world is becoming more geopolitically insecure. Global instability and uncertainty has heightened organisational risk for businesses.
One of the areas most impacted by this growing risk is cybersecurity. Cyberattacks have increased in severity and frequency as hackers have become more sophisticated in recent years, with such activity up 50% in 2021, according to technology security expert Check Point Research.
Ransomware is now one of the most common attack vectors. But a new breed of ransomware variant has surfaced that can’t be stopped using traditional means and that’s why it’s imperative companies develop more robust cybersecurity strategies to prevent them.
Tackling global instability
“Organisations will need to review their security measures to defend against ransomware and other malware assaults,” says Maurice Gibson, product manager, cybersecurity at global talent and reskill training provider mthree. “Executives have to be proactive and have a plan in place for what to do if their organisation is attacked. This will help them make decisions quickly and effectively without panicking and rushing during a crisis.”
Global instability has created new employment challenges for firms. Among the biggest insider threats in the wake of the great resignation of 2021 are mid-career employees who quit, but still had access to valuable data and knowledge.
Added to that, the Covid-19 pandemic forced many organisations to move their workforce to remote work almost overnight. But because employees home networks often used devices outside of the company’s monitoring and direct control, security can be more easily compromised. That has meant businesses have had to ensure workers’ home networks are protected as part of their overall cybersecurity plan and protocols.
As many firms have been forced to change suppliers in different regions because of increasing geopolitical difficulties or disruptions, they have also had to do their due diligence and make sure any third-party providers they work with have cybersecurity practices that comply with their own.
“With geopolitical shifts in power, organisations are having to find new suppliers to guarantee their production domains can be maintained while reducing expenditures,” says Gibson. “Organisations are engaging third parties who may or may not have gone through the same level of due diligence and are attempting to untangle connections with a third-party vendor in a less desirable geography.”
Plugging the skills gap
A deeper issue is trying to find and retain employees with the right skills and tools for the job. And because technology is constantly evolving, so new talent is always needed, as well as continually updating the existing workforce’s skillsets.
But as the relentless war for talent continues, current employees are being stretched to the limit, being required to do more and carrying out multiple jobs to cover the work that needs to be done if someone can’t be recruited for those roles. This is evidenced by the fact that there are almost 465,000 unfilled cyber jobs in the US alone, according to US government-sponsored data. This can often result in burnout and workers leaving because they’re fed up or can’t take the pressure, workload or longer hours.
Despite the obvious problems this presents, it also provides employers with the perfect opportunity to turn it into a positive. By considering a wider range of candidate, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and background, they can finally address this long-standing issue.
“This opens possibilities for employers to look outside of their usual recruiting pools when hiring technology professionals. Employers may benefit from sourcing various talents from different communities, which can lead to creativity and a better work environment.”
Junior talent can also play a key role in helping meet employers needs amid disruption. “Junior talent may lead to more adaptability in organisations,” says Gibson. “Rather than relying on certain locations to fill openings, junior talent can be found wherever the business is or where it wants to expand.”
He adds: “Junior talent enables an organisation to develop its personnel from the bottom up, providing them the chance to apply their skills toward the company’s benefit. Many companies are paying a premium for skilled employees in an expensive labour market. Junior talent allows firms to spend less up front and reinvest funds into training and upskilling opportunities that help reinforce talent retention.”
Strategic risk management
In response to the war in Ukraine, as with any other international crisis, in addition to having a solid cybersecurity strategy in place, firms also need to test their business continuity and recovery plans to ensure they work and are up to date. They also need to find in-country talent or suppliers that will help them isolate themselves from the conflict’s impact.
Linking all this together, organisations need to have established and effective lines of communication with suppliers, industry peers, governments and employees. They also need to look at the bigger picture in terms of the long-term impact on business and how they can mitigate that risk.
Moving forward, the need for better cybersecurity has never been greater. As a result, companies must re-evaluate their broader risk and business continuity strategies, ensuring they continue to comply with the latest set of data privacy and security regulations, as well as assessing current and emerging geopolitical risks, and how they will tackle them.
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