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October 22, 2012

CYBER SECURITY: Everyone has a role to play

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month as proclaimed by the president. The event is aptly named. Cyber security only exists if our personnel, our organizations and our institutions are truly aware of the threats and the steps we can take to secure our infrastructure.

We might know that threats exist in the abstract. But, we need to make a cultural shift when it comes to IT security. Threats are everywhere and a successful attack can have a substantial impact on the operational, managerial and financial integrity of an organization. For many organizations, though, the loss of public trust from a security breach may be far more detrimental.

In many of today’s networks, the concept of standalone devices is outdated. Technology convergence between communication and IT networks is improving operational capability while simultaneously introducing vulnerabilities and creating a need for stronger security. Converged networks create a web of interconnection which means that a security incident could have a wider impact than it would have on a closed network. This convergence is evident in both public safety and enterprise networks where the intersection of voice and data is giving rise to all kinds of new devices, operating systems, apps and tools … many mission-critical and in many instances interdependent. The possibilities for good are endless. But, we should recognize that the possibilities for mayhem in the absence of security awareness are increasing almost as fast.

So during National Cyber Security Awareness Month, let’s raise our focus on security and recognize that although we may continue to add layers of protection, awareness remains key because it addresses both the technologies deployed and the behavior of the people who use them. The number of potential vulnerabilities is exploding. IT departments have to somehow protect each and every avenue of attack. The bad guys only have to find one way in to compromise a network.

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