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How investing in cybersecurity could make us safer online

Cybersecurity and cyberattacks have evolved in line with the development of communication technology. COVID-19 has only increased our exposure to technology-related vulnerabilities. As a result, investment in cybersecurity has become more critical than ever to protect governments, organisations and individuals.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity refers to the procedures and tools that are implemented to protect information assets that are generated and processed through computers, servers, mobile devices, networks and electronic systems. Information assets can include data (software and hardware), and the threats to them are varied and can originate from both outside and inside an organisation.

Growing day by day

We've come a long way from simple codes to the sophisticated algorithms used today. Integrated multi-factor authentication procedures, powerful encryption techniques and virtual private networks are now commonplace. Such technologies as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are driving automation in this area.

At the same time, the emergence of COVID-19 led to a surge in technology dependence in record time: from the massive adoption of work from home to distance education, e-commerce, virtual banking and online socialising. This trend towards digitalisation has not been matched by progress in corporate IT protection, resulting in increased vulnerabilities, data loss, and ransomware attacks.

Cyberattacks don't just pose a privacy risk — they can also have significant financial consequences. According to the "Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021" survey by Ponemon Institute and IBM, the worldwide average cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million. That report also revealed that the costs of responding to data breaches has increased by 10% in the last year.

Investing as the best protection

Since cyberspace is international and relatively new — there are virtually no rules or laws governing it — investment in cybersecurity has become more critical than ever; it is vital for protecting governments, organisations and individuals, not only their digital and financial assets but also their physical assets. So much so that spending on cybersecurity in the US increased by 10% in 2020 to $53 billion.

Main innovations in Cybersecurity

1. Digital signatures and certificates

The rapid advances in e-commerce create a growing need for online security and authentication. The digital signature, a cryptographic mechanism that identifies the signatory and guarantees the integrity of the document, and the digital certificate, an electronic document issued by an authority that links a person to a public key and confirms their identity, are technologies that ensure authentication on the internet and represent a market that is expected to expand five-fold by 2026, according to Statista.

2. Network security

The main tools used to ensure user security on networks are firewalls, proxy servers, antivirus applications, endpoint encryption, and vulnerability scanners. A firewall monitors incoming and outgoing traffic and decides whether to allow or block it; a proxy server filters packets between client and server to ensure anonymity; antivirus software removes and blocks threats; endpoint encryption prevents unauthorised access to files; and a vulnerability scanner provides continuous monitoring of a potential vulnerability. This market is expected to exceed $4.6 billion in 2022.

3. Machine learning

Machine learning (ML) is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that enables computers to learn without being explicitly programmed. ML enables cybersecurity systems to analyse patterns and learn from them so as to help prevent similar attacks and respond to changes; therefore, it can make cybersecurity simpler and more effective, as well as less costly.

All these tools are among the applications we use and will use every day, especially in the upcoming virtual reality environments. For that reason, investing in companies that develop solutions in this area can be an opportunity for the future. 

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