By: Hira Batool
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has prognosticated that in 2025 the most sought-after jobs would be those in the field of information technology (IT). This prediction seems plausible because the world has entered into the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution whereby machines and technology will become increasingly involved in our daily lives. Technological advancements like robots, virtual reality, cryptocurrency and blockchain will become the order of the day. Amidst the ever-increasing dependence of businesses as well as individuals on IT, it can be rightly said that the notion of a global village or a world economy would have been a thing beyond perception had there been no use of IT.
Today’s is a world of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The ICT has become an essential contributor to our daily lives in more than one way. Not only has it become the engine of global trade and financial system, but is now also a vital component of our most critical infrastructure. When seen in broad terms, the networks that provide our water, food, electricity, communications and transportation are all dependent on ICT.
With this growing dependency as well as the heightened importance of information systems, it is imperative to assess the potential risks and threats they pose to businesses and economies. The concept of firewalls, passwords, virus scans, backups, etc., has now become little outdated, though still needed. Information risk management (IRM) is no longer a topic to be discussed only by IT professionals; rather it needs attention at higher levels in executives and boards so as to adopt appropriate measures against any disruption to business and potential loss of data as a result of failure of information systems. It should, indeed, become an integral part of risk management process of an entity.
If we take the concept of information risk management a step forward, there arises a need to understand cyber risk which is “any risk emerging from the use of information and communication technology (ICT) that compromises the confidentiality, availability, or integrity of data or services.” It is to be noted here that the impairment of operational technology eventually leads to business disruption, infrastructural breakdown and damage to humans – both physical and to property.
Cyber risk may be posed by natural disasters, e.g. earthquakes, floods, fires, etc., which may cause colossal damage to a company’s IT hardware, software, servers and network. It can also be manmade, e.g. mala fide on the part of hackers, terrorists and criminals, as well as human failures. Nonetheless, in any case, there is a risk of potential loss of confidential data as data integrity gets compromised. Business reputation and credibility would also be affected.
The potential effects of these risks can be assessed according to the nature of the business and its dependency on information systems. For example, banks, financial institutions, online businesses, hospitals, etc. are more vulnerable to cyber attacks than other institutions or organizations. The reason is they are dealing with an individual’s confidential data, account numbers, email addresses, credit card information, personal health history, etc.
A company, hence, needs to follow a proactive course to identify its susceptibility to cyber risks and to take, thereupon, appropriate measures to mitigate the potential consequences in the event of any threat or loss of data. This will enable the company to be operational quickly and also minimise the costs incurred in recovery of data.
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