COVID-19 was certainly not the only virus to sweep both the nation and the world in the past year.
Virtual viruses descended on a few major industries, generating a level of panic that created shortages of gas and beef while spreading misinformation like wildfire.
In a world where digital exponential change accelerates tremendously, cyber threats are no longer a frustrating obstacle that only individuals face. While the ease of large-scale connectivity is appealing, our vital systems in place are now more delicate than we realize.
Through my Anticipatory Leader System, I teach competencies to train C-suite executives and business leaders how to think exponentially as a way to see disruption and plan ahead before it occurs, especially in the world of cybersecurity.
Around the early nineties, our usage of the personal computer accelerated and, right alongside it, computer viruses and cyber threats evolved.
During these early years, worms, Trojan horses, and other types of Malware found their way into computer systems and replicated themselves, replacing code within fully functional programs with duplicates of themselves. This is child’s play compared to what we have now: Ransomware.
When DarkSide, a group of Russian hackers, brought the Colonial Pipeline to its knees using Ransomware, the term became a 2021 buzzword. While a new wave of panic buying occurred, causing gas shortages in nearly all southeastern states, most panicked individuals misunderstood what Ransomware is and how it shut down a whole industry.
Essentially, Ransomware encrypts, or locks, vital information at an organization or within software that a company operates on. Thereafter, hackers demand a ransom payment to unencrypt the files and let business carry on as usual.
The Colonial Pipeline hack certainly brought to light the importance of cybersecurity; however, most were unaware of the colossal number of Ransomware attacks happening over the year prior. There were roughly 65,000 Ransomware attacks that didn’t make headlines throughout the already tumultuous year of 2020; an attack every hour!
These Ransomware attacks were not directly on personal computers and individual bank accounts; these were companies with employees relying on them for their livelihoods and small businesses already struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.
During the shift to a remote workforce because of COVID-19, companies were in no way prepared to enforce new cybersecurity measures as employees used their own modems and connectivity to access remote servers, which opened them up to breaches in cybersecurity.
Pandemic unpreparedness aside, a cyberattack of any size should not be taken lightly. For example, a hack of the sensitive personal data found in healthcare costs organizations $28 million in annual fines for these security breaches! Imagine the ripple effect that has on all employees.
A Hard Trend to Ransomware and cybercrime is that it is only going to get worse. So long as technology gets more advanced, cybercriminals will get more savvy. Even worse, cybercrime occurs around the clock, all year long. How can you possibly defend against a criminal that is nearly fully autonomous and artificially intelligent?
The truth is, you can’t. As I stress in my Anticipatory Leader System, being reactionary and agile is only half the battle. When you only operate with agility, you are constantly leading from behind, trying to put out a fire while another three are started behind your back.
Instead of trying to extinguish the fires a cybercriminal sets, take away their matches by shifting your mindset to one of anticipation!
An Anticipatory mindset allows you to see issues in your cybersecurity before they become issues. If cybercriminals ping business systems over a thousand times a day, you may need an external IT company to keep your software up-to-date at all hours of the night, as the cost of a 24-hour internal IT department may be too much.
Outside of your network administrators and IT professionals, the best way to improve cybersecurity at your business or organization is to teach your entire staff how to implement an Anticipatory mindset toward technology.
Having a unified understanding of best practices when using digital technology trains your staff of all career levels to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. In a way, having a team of Anticipatory thinkers toward cybersecurity is like having a company-wide IT department in itself!
In working with many IT organizations globally each year, I have identified a best-in-class cyber testing company that will provide a perimeter test of your systems, along with recommending immediate actions to stop any uncovered leaks.
If you would like a free perimeter test to check for vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity defense system, please contact us.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.