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How to Adapt, Survive and Thrive in Our Hyperconnected World

FEATURE / 03.06.19 / Michelle Price

As the concept of the Internet of Things celebrates its 20th year, it is worth considering how far the idea has come in that time. Technology has moved at such a pace that we now have the Enterprise of Things that refers to the internet-enabled machines, devices, networks and apps that connect businesses. We have even started discussing the Internet of Everything in an attempt to acknowledge today’s hyper-connected world.

With this trend accelerating further, the challenge of securing ‘all the things’ becomes even greater. The sheer scale of this task can often get lost in the complexity of achieving it, but to appreciate its importance, it can help to take a step back and consider some examples.

Until recently, planes were seemingly the last bastion of disconnected peace and quiet. But with Wi-Fi now increasingly available on short and long-haul flights, air travel has opened a potential attack vector which could have deadly consequences should it allow malicious cyber activity.

Soldiers risking their lives to protect national security now rely on wearable technology to the extent that mechanics run up and down their arms and legs. These devices communicate battlefield orders, but if they aren’t secure and are hacked, soldiers risk walking into the line of fire, putting their lives at risk.

The elections in the US and around the world has shown democracy itself can also be susceptible to a lack of security. Ballot boxes which use technology in an attempt to secure and enable democracy are at risk of hacking, which could subvert it.

If these scenarios sound somewhat far-fetched or separate to most people’s daily experiences, consider the issue of smart homes. From smart displays and speakers to internet-enabled light bulbs, we are incorporating technology which makes our homes more convenient and responsive to our needs. But this also opens up attack vectors which allows malicious actors to unlock a front door or garage and access the property. Convenience without security is simply risk.

Healthcare is another area which impacts our lives every day. As technology advances, so does risk. Pacemakers are now connected to the internet to enable software updates and allow doctors to change the settings depending on a patient’s need. The perils of a lack of security here are obvious, and demonstrate in the clearest possible terms the need to match the pace of innovation with the pace of protection.

As the Internet of Things prepares to enter its third decade and with 2019 upon us, security is set to define its ongoing success. Securing ‘All the Things’ and data integrity and privacy has never been more important – nor more front of mind.

While technology advances at an ever more dizzying pace, ensuring that security is woven into the fabric – from inception to factory floor to front room – is imperative. As business models evolve, so must our very definition of what is secure. With increased and more personal risks, we must find solutions before it’s too late. Cyber-resilience is fundamental to ensuring we achieve the potential that hyper-connectivity offers, improving our lives rather than stealing the future from us.

As a guest speaker at the recent New York and London BlackBerry Security Summits, I was buoyed to see companies like BlackBerry bring together industry speakers, partners, customers and start-ups to share, collaborate, find solutions and embrace the opportunity that cybersecurity in the IoT era presents.  As an industry, we need to work together to help governments, health institutions, banks, manufacturers and many other industries around the world to navigate our connected future and its inherent threats.

Now a cybersecurity software and services company, I was surprised to hear how much BlackBerry is still part of the fabric of our lives – not quite as visible, but doing the same job.  That is, keeping data secure and private and keeping people safe.  To name a few, BlackBerry software is used in autonomous cars, drones, ECG machines, medical surgical robots, airline black boxes, trains, safety and incident response at universities – and even in the NASA space station.  It goes to show there are a lot of amazing opportunities out there for anyone considering a career in cybersecurity!

That is why we are excited to announce that BlackBerry is one of the companies partnering with AustCyber to support Cyber Taipan in Australia – a national cybersecurity competition for 12-18 year olds with the goal to help find the nation’s next generation of cyber experts.  With Cyber Taipan and other initiatives, AustCyber is working together with the industry to help address the IT skills gap and huge demand for skilled cyber technologists in Australia.  The final will take place on March 16th in Canberra.

Watch Michelle’s full session from BlackBerry Security Summit 2018 below.

Michelle Price

About Michelle Price

Michelle Price serves as CEO of Australian Cyber Growth Network.