cybersecurity is part of corporate responsibility

Holger Halyand, Head of Telia Business ClientsPhoto: Arno Mikkor

Along with environmental issues, cybersecurity is demanding more and more attention and is an important part of corporate social responsibility, writes Holger Halyand, Head of Telia’s Business Clients Division.

When people talk about corporate responsibility, they tend to prioritize environmental issues and the enterprise’s contribution to society, leaving cybersecurity out of sight. At the same time, caring for the security of customer data, educating employees about cybersecurity and building effective security systems are today critical to protecting the interests of both customers and employees of the firm.

In May of this year, we conducted a survey to find out what people think and what they expect about how active telecommunications businesses are in socially important issues and what topics should be addressed.

The poll showed that the most important topic that should be raised in society is the issue of Internet security (47%). This is immediately followed by the topic of cyberbullying (33%). Cybersecurity is considered the most important topic of online privacy and security issues by 75 percent of respondents.

This means that people realize the importance of this area and understand that it affects everyone more and more. Although the importance of cybersecurity is more evident in the context of communication or, for example, financial services.

In a time when the volume of data is constantly growing, its protection is critical. At the same time, there are still many areas where a lot of confidential information is transferred, for example, in the form of information about credit cards, but effective protections are not always available there.

For example, in the case of fast-growing online commerce, we assume that our personal data and bank details or card information are adequately protected. However, this is not the case in all online stores. The question also arises: for example, if a business sells products made from recycled materials, but does not care about the security of its online store, which is causing the leakage of customer data, then is it really a responsible business?

A common mistake is reusing passwords

Due to the pandemic, digital development has accelerated even more in the past few years. Many sectors handle large volumes of sensitive personal data, and the security of this data is especially important. However, various studies show that employees tend to reuse their passwords: a large number of employees use the same passwords both for protecting work equipment as for personal accounts.

Ransomware attacks that use leaked passwords of people to access enterprise systems have tripled over the past year. These problems can be especially painful for small and medium-sized enterprises, where awareness and security systems are often not good enough.

A survey by Cisco, conducted by the US National Center for the Middle Market, found that 60 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) shut down within six months of being targeted by a cyberattack. 62 percent of respondents admitted that their business does not have an up-to-date cybersecurity strategy, or no strategy at all. This means that these businesses could (and are likely to at some point) be victims of a cyberattack, and their customers are highly vulnerable.

Prevention pays off

Although cybersecurity systems are constantly evolving, humans remain the weakest link. It might seem like so much has been said about cyber threats that an enterprise no longer needs to deal with cyber awareness among its employees, but in reality, the opposite is true.

It is still important to train your employees and constantly engage in corporate cyberhygiene… For example, even with powerful defenses in place, a simple phishing attack can compromise an enterprise’s systems and sensitive data. Phishing is one of the most easily identifiable and therefore preventable forms of attack, provided the business is cyber-hygienic and its employees know how to avoid such risks.

Of course, truly effective cybersecurity also requires some investment. But putting reputational damage and possibly a string of claims for damages due to data breach or misuse in money can be a much more expensive and painful lesson for a business.

I am convinced that cybersecurity is playing an increasingly important role in the social responsibility of every enterprise. This is part of the community’s concern for the individual, and it should be remembered that prevention is paramount in addressing cybersecurity issues, as it is usually less expensive than healing the wounds of a cyber attack.

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