Data security more important as digital transformation accelerates


DIGITAL transformation will continue to accelerate, leading to cybersecurity becoming “the cornerstone for everything” and not just a concern of security and risk management, according to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“Around the world, the public is becoming more discerning about how personal data should be gathered, stored, and processed — and governments are responding by creating new legislation to protect personal data,” Phil Rodrigues, AWS’s head of security for Asia-Pacific & Japan, said in a statement.

Technological research and consulting firm Gartner said three-fourths of the world’s population will have introduced data protection legislation by 2024, while large organizations are expected to invest $2.5 million in privacy technology.

In the Philippines, legislation like the Data Privacy Act and SIM Card Registration Act have been implemented to deter cybercrime. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also kicked off 2023 with a “Check-Protect-Report” information drive to educate and protect financial consumers.

Moving forward, instead of conducting periodic cybersecurity reviews, a future where organizations will shift to continuous automated security is expected, Mr. Rodrigues said.

He added that cybersecurity will eventually be built into everything organizations do from the very start, with trends like cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) expected to add a layer of automation in cloud environments.

“Cloud-based AI/ML offers predictive capabilities derived from collected information that can play a role in making cybersecurity more proactive by identifying outliers and offering recommendations on how to address vulnerabilities,” Mr. Rodrigues added.

The workforce must also grow to keep data safe and be trained not just in technical skills like AI and cloud computing, but also in communication-related skills, he said.

He said cybersecurity professionals themselves name communication, flexibility, and leadership as the top three skills they can be better trained in, citing a 2022 study by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association.

In 2022, the International Information System Security Certification Consortium also found that there was a global shortage of 3.4 million cybersecurity practitioners.

Meanwhile, Reynaldo C. Lugtu, Jr., chairman of the Information and Communications Technology committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, told BusinessWorld in an interview that consumers can be prepared for risks if data security issues are better communicated to them.

Though the Philippines has made big strides for financial inclusion, Filipinos still have “issues of security, trust, and lack of knowledge,” he said.

“Financial institutions should give contact details for any issue [customers] encounter, like problems with accounts, money transfers, or transactions. They should be able to go to a chatbot, e-mail, or hotline,” Mr. Lugtu said in a mix of Filipino and English.

“What’ important is they communicate [security risks and protection measures] to consumers. With social media, they can reach a wide consumer base,” he added.  

HEALTHY DIGITAL HABITSMeanwhile, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky released this month a list of five healthy digital habits for Filipinos this new year:

1. New year, new passwords – Start the new year with changing passwords on all accounts, without using the same one. Modern password managers have handy features like automatic generators that produce a unique and complex variation of one master password for each account.

2. Subscribe to notifications about account data leaks – Data leaks and breaches happen often and are a big threat to personal and corporate accounts. Use services that scan for the latest leaks to see whether they contain your data. Advanced password managers also include this feature and can quickly notify users if any of their saved logins or passwords are found in recent data leaks.

3. Need more privacy? Get a VPN – Known to allow users to access content like streaming services or games from anywhere in the world by hiding one’ original IP address, a virtual private network or a VPN lets a person stay private online. They are easy to use, provide high traffic speeds, and keep personal data safe.

4. Transfer documents to a safe place – People keep both paper originals and electronic versions of documents. Whether on a folder on the computer or uploaded to a password-protected cloud, any method can be insecure and lead to the loss of data. Modern password manager apps are a good alternative since they’re encrypted and capable of storing scans, PDFs, and other documents.

5. Learn more about your child’s hobbies on the Internet – It’s important to learn online safety from childhood so kids enter the digital world equipped with healthy digital habits. Parents who are not tech savvy must put in the effort to learn about secure online practices together with their child.

Vladislav Tushkanov, Kaspersky’s lead data scientist, said in a statement that privacy and security are not a result, but a process. Securing one’s account and digital footprint will require some dedication, he said.

“Small steps such as creating unique passwords for different accounts and using advanced tools like password managers can greatly boost your privacy while making this task much simpler. And there’s no better time to start a new, more secure digital life than in the new year,” he said. — Brontë H. Lacsamana

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