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The day cybercrime got personal

Andrzej Kawalec
Head of Innovation & Strategy, Vodafone Enterprise Security Services

When news of a global ransomware attack hit the headlines on Friday 12th May, it wasn’t just another high profile breach, or worldwide vulnerability like Heartbleed or Wikileaks that made the front pages. It was the potential human impact, because in the UK, it affected the national health service. As a society we have become used to hearing about cyber-attacks and the economic, business and lifestyle impact. But the potential tragedy that an attack on health services could cause makes it personal.

The events which have a significant and lasting impact on the public consciousness are those relating to privacy and safety. Privacy of a personal or political kind, and the safety and well-being of the people we know and love. This is why when WannaCry hit the headlines, it was for the impact on vital healthcare services in the UK. We may have finally bridged from the digital to the physical world in the mind of the individual citizen.

Cyber fatigue has set in as we try to keep pace with dizzying numbers of records stolen, or the scale and sophistication of attacks. These complex and often technical descriptions mask a worrying trend – the real-world implications of cyber-attacks.

Take a medium size company of 50 people, for example. They are concerned, not with the technical details or the security countermeasures, but desperate to understand the impact on their business, their customers and their employees. When we layer on liability and privacy concerns it becomes a subject beyond the grasp of all but the largest companies with the most expert teams.

It is exactly the dual risks to privacy and safety that company executives around the world will tell you are highest on their agenda and keep them up at night. Because these risks point straight to the personal reputation of the CEO and brand reputation of the organisation. In the 24/7 twitter-led world of global news – fake and not – it is a stark reminder that your reputation takes a lifetime to build and a minute to tear down. Something that Olympic athletes, politicians and global car manufacturers, among others in 2016 have learnt to their peril.

Cyber security is a key concern for organisations of all sizes. Protecting devices, networks, data and apps is an essential component of doing business. Vodafone provides security products and services to businesses of all sizes, helping you secure your business anywhere because we are everywhere. We are trusted by organisations globally, including utilities, financial institutions and government agencies. For more cyber security insights, you can find us on LinkedIn.

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