The post-pandemic hyper-digital world needs more inclusive cybersecurity

There is a need to make cybersecurity much more accessible than it is today. And the onus is equally on CIOs, CISOs and CTOs to adopt marketing strategies that help them expand their footprint, create awareness, and connect with the end user.

In a massive data breach, the personal information of over 533 million Facebook users was leaked on the internet earlier this month. The attack affected over 32 million people in the US, around 11 million in the UK and more than 6 million in India. Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was also among those who fell victim to the attack.

This was just the latest in a series of cyberattacks that have rattled the world wide web in recent months. With remote working and cloud delivery models becoming mainstream in the post- pandemic world, malicious elements on the web are having a field day. As per one estimate, cyber risks in India have risen by around 500% since March 2020 when the first Covid-19 lockdown was imposed.

It’s no surprise then that business leaders are very worried. Nearly 50% of the respondents in a PwC survey of 5,050 global CEOs said they were concerned about cyber threats hurting their organisation’s growth prospects. Only 33% of the respondents believed this a year ago. Cyber threats also ranked second in a list of threats that these CEOs were “extremely concerned” about, followed by the pandemic.

But in this new hyper-digital world, the extreme concern over cybersecurity needs to seep out of board rooms and corporate conferences.

Cybersecurity needs to become the top priority for the planet—which includes laypersons who should be able to use tech tools to safeguard themselves instead of simply relying on service providers to do it for them. And the best way to make this happen is for cybersecurity firms to go beyond the business-to-business (B2B) focus to a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) approach.

You, me and cybersecurity

A few evenings ago, as I logged on to Netflix for some dinner-time viewing, I noticed a couple of movies in the “watch again” section that I had never played before. Being aware that this could be a potential threat, I was quick to log out and change my credentials. I was able to notice the threat and act promptly because I understand how a small oversight can lead to a bigger danger. But this would not be the case for most regular people.

For instance, it is hard to ignore that my son who is now schooling online and recently created an email id for himself, constantly runs the risk of becoming a victim of cyberattacks. Also, elderly members of my family who have now started banking online are pretty unaware of the risks that lurk on the web besides just the reminders from the Reserve Bank of India or their banks to not share their PINs or account details with unknown people.

These are just a couple of examples of the danger that the pandemic-triggered digital acceleration has set off.

There is no doubt that cybersecurity firms across the globe have sprung into action to combat the risks and make the internet safer, but they need to address a much larger challenge.

Inclusive security

As per RepliCMO research, “remote” is the new default, which needs cybersecurity to act as its backbone. This is true for all industries and individuals. So, there is a need to make cybersecurity much more accessible than it is today.

To a majority of people in India, understanding of cybersecurity is still limited to a pre-installed over-the-counter antivirus software from Norton or Kaspersky.

The onus is then on cybersecurity firms to communicate with a larger audience and handhold all stakeholders in order to make the internet experience safer.

These companies must adopt marketing strategies that help them expand their footprint, create awareness, and connect with the common person.

Some basic yet effective ways to convey a collaborative approach directly with users can be:

1.   Adopting the (B2B2C) approach/ Educating the end-users and expanding to their end consumers strategy: The connection with a B2B client should not be limited to just making a sale. The person who is using the security software must be aware of what are the advantages he/she is getting. This will lead to more decision makers being aware of what a cyber security firm has to offer, resulting in organic business growth.

2.   Catch them young: In the new world order, we need initiatives such as the Palo Alto programme for kids, which demystifies cybersecurity through interactive learning for young children.

3.   Make it sound simple: A strategy to reach out to regular people must stay away from jargon, and talk to end users in a language they understand. For a layperson, terms such as phishing or ransomware, which are widely understood in the tech world, can be hard to understand. So it’s essential to make people understand what these threats really mean and what hackers are capable of if one is not careful.

4.   Make way for different programs and IP creation:  CXOs, CISOs and CIOs need to invest in making the use of effective storytelling and marketing to create IPs that will eventually elevate the essence and also contribute to expanding the net by educating slowly and far.

This process of increasing awareness and engagement with users can eventually create new business and help cybersecurity firms get future ready.

Image and publishing credits: CIO News