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Cybersecurity Starts at the Top

Data breaches might feel like a fact of modern life, but they are an artifact of modern indifference. Companies, regardless of size or sector, need to recognize their responsibility, inescapable in today's technology-based economy, to be supremely vigilant and pro-active about securing their data and systems.

LONDON – Every time a major corporate cybersecurity breach occurs, the response looks pretty much the same: cry “havoc!” and call in the cyber first responders to close the breach. But by the time an executive or two stands before a few government committees, proffering some explanation and pledging to beef up security protocols, people – including the hackers – have largely moved on. And with each breach, the cycle accelerates: people either dismiss the threat – it probably won’t happen to them – or accept it as an unavoidable pitfall of modern life.

The truth is that the threat posed by cybersecurity breaches is both acute and avoidable. The key to mitigating it is to understand that cybersecurity isn’t simply a technology issue; it is also an urgent strategic issue that should be at the top of the agenda for every board and management team. After all, from Yahoo! to Equifax, data breaches have often been rooted in internal forces of human error, carelessness, or even maliciousness.

Already, the scale and speed of attacks is massive. It has now emerged that the 2013 Yahoo! data breach affected all three billion accounts. In May, the WannaCry ransomworm attack affected dozens of the UK’s National Health Service trusts, and spread globally at lightning speed.