Expert SpeakSecurity

Protecting Human Rights in the Era of Cyber Information Warfare

Written by Edwin Weijdema, Global Technologist, Product Strategy at Veeam

Disinformation is undermining the limitless potential of technology to be a positive force for industries, businesses, and communities. In the current global landscape, barely a conversation goes by without mention of “fake news” and its ability to mislead critical discourse regarding events such as elections and current affairs around the world.

Combined with the fact that the definition of privacy is constantly being redefined in the age of ‘surveillance capitalism’, this means it’s a not-so-metaphorical minefield out there when it comes to safeguarding our data. In light of this, the onus is increasingly on data protection and cybersecurity technologies to protect the integrity of our human rights in the face of cyber information warfare. But businesses too must ensure they remain on the right side of using data ethically, compliantly, and securely.

Data Protection Day is an opportunity to explore some of the technologies leading the way in the fight against cyber (dis)information and how businesses can take up arms to protect our rights as employees, consumers, and citizens.

Data protection as a human right
Unbeknown to some, data protection is a human right. In Europe, it’s for this reason that we celebrate Data Protection Day, which this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to the Automatic Processing of Personal Data. Or in short – Convention 108: the treaty that spawned the first European Union-wide data protection laws, which is today covered within the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Despite the significant financial and reputational damage for failing to protect this basic human right, it’s data protection, or rather a lack of, which continues to grab headlines. Fortunately, data protection and cybersecurity technologies are striving to change this.

Technology: a vital weapon in the fight against cyber information warfare
A lot has been said about technology’s role as an enabler for spreading disinformation and inciting cyber information warfare. But more vitally, it’s our biggest weapon in the fight against cybercriminals.

This is particularly true with its role as a guardian against a choice weapon of cybercriminals. Ransomware is a maliciously created malware that encrypts files and storage. It is one of the most intractable and common threats facing organisations across all industries and geographies.

Predominantly, attackers use ransomware to extort money. But many attacks also seek out production and backup files, as well as documents. By encrypting those too, the attack leaves organisations with no choice but to meet the demands of cybercriminals.

By the end of 2021, the global cost of ransomware damage is predicted to reach $20 billion (USD), according to the 2019 Veeam Ransomware Study. But more damaging still is the countless violations of human rights as ransomware attackers increasingly threaten to leak stolen data.

To combat this – and the rising challenges of cyber criminals working together – it’s important for technology to form its own armies and alliances, such as the ransomware protection alliance Veeam has formed with a number of partners including Cisco, AWS, Lenovo, HP, and Cloudian.

But of course, cybercriminals are always seeking new and innovative ways to steal data and since the start of COVID-19, businesses haven’t been the only ones accelerating their digital transformation – with cyberattacks on cloud systems spiking 250% from 2019 to 2020.

In response, it’s more important than ever to work with technology partners that not only prioritise the data management needs of today but are also looking to the cloud and security solutions of tomorrow – all the while remaining one step ahead of cybercriminals.

Using data ethically, compliantly, and securely
In this digital age, businesses have more responsibility than ever to use data ethically, compliantly, and securely. Doing so is not a nice-to-have or something that sits atop a business agenda. It’s a human right!

But still, too many businesses are inadvertently aiding the efforts of cybercriminals with their lackadaisical approach to data security. In a recent article, Mohamed al-Kuwaiti, head of UAE Government Cyber Security was quoted saying that ‘the Middle East region is facing a “cyber pandemic” with Covid-19 related attacks skyrocketing in 2020’. Trend Micro recorded over 50m cyber-attacks in the GCC region during the first half of 2020.

Fines and reputational damage are of course deterrents. However, we’re still seeing too many data breaches and businesses must do more to curb the plight of data protection. To this end, technology is once again a key enabler. Regardless of your business size, find a solution that ensures data security, compliance, and customer privacy requirements are met. Don’t just take a vendor’s word that their solutions are secure – read customer testimonials, do your research, and look to respected rewards bodies.

In the business year ahead, maintaining customer trust will be a core priority – there’s enough going on in the world for them to also be worrying about the welfare of their data, after all. So, putting your trust in the right technology can help uphold our human rights and take giant strides in the war against cybercriminals.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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