Digitization and Cybersecurity

Niharika Srivastav and Sanjay Saxena

September 07, 2021

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Why is there so much attention about Cybersecurity in recent times? Why is security a rapidly growing concern within both our Federal & State government agencies? Cyber-attacks have had a massive impact on the world in recent years.

In May 2021, Colonial Pipeline, the largest gas pipeline in the United States, was hit by a cyberattack. Ultimately the cyberattack led to the pipeline shutting down, resulting in gasoline shortages across all of the East Coast. The hackers got away with a ransom of $5 million.

In late 2020, hackers breached a third-party software supplier SolarWinds and were able to attach malicious software to Solarwinds Orion updates. This allowed the adversary to actively monitor the internal operations of over 200 organizations worldwide, including many US government agencies.

In March 2020, Brno Hospital of Czech Republic, was targeted by malicious software. As the virus spread, the hospital's systems began to fail, prompting the management to shut down all equipment. The hospital was obliged to reschedule appointments, postpone operations, and even transfer patients to other hospitals.

These are only a few examples. The list of cyber-attacks in recent years is long, and is growing every day.

One of the compelling reasons driving the need for Cybersecurity is Digitization. Let's understand what Digitization is. It's the process of converting paper information into a digital format so that it can be used by computers.

We have seen massive digitization this past decade. Organizations are rapidly adopting technologies to automate their processes and provide a better user experience to their customers. COVID-19 has further accelerated the deployment of digital technology.

Organizations use computers and data to provide you with a quality user experience, like the Uber app, bank app, traveling app, etc. Let's use calling a taxi as an illustration. Do you still use your rotary phone to call a taxi to the airport?

Is the taxi driver already carrying your credit card details in order to save you time? Is the driver aware of your prior interactions with other taxi drivers? These questions surfaced before Uber and Lyft came into existence. You can now use these apps to improve your cab experience. The taxi industry has been digitized.

Let's look at another example, a Bank! Do you still go to the bank to deposit checks, check your balance, or transfer money? No, you can now deposit checks on your smartphone by utilizing your bank's app. You currently have the option to check your balance at any time, even after business hours. You can also send money using the same app if you want. As a result, your banking procedure has been modernized; it has been digitized.

The amount of time we spend on our gadgets has increased dramatically in recent years. We are constantly sharing our data on social media, and some of us are connecting to free Wi-Fi networks. Gen Z (the younger generation, born between 1997 and 2012) is the most active generation on the internet now, connecting with the world through TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

There are connected devices all around us - our phones, vehicles, refrigerators, microwaves, and various other equipment all connected to the internet. These connected devices are often referred to as IoT - the Internet of Things. The introduction of 5G has made connected gadgets even more connected than before.

While rapid digitization has made our lives easier, it has also raised cyber threats. The apps you use generate a large volume of data, and that must be protected. As your personal data and information travels through the internet, hackers might be intercepting data. If they get this sensitive and personal information, it can very well be misused.

As a professional, you must know how to identify potential threats and protect yourself as well as your organization. As we are adopting and embracing digital technologies, cybersecurity awareness has never been more vital. With the rapid growth of Digitization, "Cybersecurity has become everybody's business!"

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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