Three Barriers to Better Internet

Threats from enterprising hackers, cybercriminals and other online ne’er-do-wells have never been more ubiquitous. Yet our ability to combat those intruders remains hampered for a variety of reasons.

For example, you would think businesses generally are better than the average consumer at forecasting and managing around the possibility of an attack. After all, organizations that make millions or even billions of dollars annually, and that persistently face the threat of digital assault, seem to be best positioned to be proactive.

Yet the 2016-17 Global Information Security Survey from EY, a global professional services group, suggests even companies struggle to keep up. Just 22% of executives, for example, report having “fully considered the information security implications of their organization’s current strategy and plans.” Meanwhile, only a slightly higher number -- 24% -- have an incident response plan that would enable them to come back from malware or employee misbehavior online.

Meanwhile, consumers clearly recognize the threat but have little in the way of resources to navigate the complex world of virtual security. A 2016 report by insurance business the Travelers Companies found that Americans rank cyber risks as the No. 2 threat to themselves and their families over the next five years, second only to global and political conflict, a category that includes terrorism and social unrest.

Reasons We Fail To Do More About Online Safety

Why are so many of us ill-equipped to manage rapidly changing internet threats? Several reasons come to mind, among them:

  1. The transition from devices to the cloud. Some of today’s leading anti-virus technology companies began with a goal of helping consumers and companies prevent harm done to individual PCs and files. That’s a noble goal and an important mission, yet some of those businesses are attempting to convince consumers their software features protection that creates a secure environment for internet searches, file sharing and other cloud-based activities, which often is inaccurate. Hackers can make small changes to their malware so anti-virus software can’t recognize its signature. Anti-virus software is good for stopping familiar malware threats, but it might not do a great job protecting you from new ransomware or ransomware that has been disguised. By contrast, the best way to protect yourself online when utilizing cloud-based software is to access the cloud via a private, encrypted connection. Companies that would like to transition to the cloud but might be hesitant to do so because of security concerns can consider paying for a data backup service while they develop trust in the cloud. Other barriers you might face on the road to cloud adoption include getting executive staff to buy in, assessing the costs and benefits of moving IT operations to the cloud, and reallocating resources once you are fully migrated to the cloud.

Read more in my latest Forbes column

Nineveh Madsen