The cyber-threat is closer than you think. Either you seize the future or the future seizes you

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The scale of the cyber-security issue is growing exponentially. Consequently, the demands on personnel equipped to deal with it are growing too. However, the supply of new professionals into the space is not in tune with the demands from the wider industry. Some estimates see the shortfall as high as 3.5 million roles in the global cyber-security sector by 2021. And naturally, being human, there’s only so much of that work that can be covered by humans alone.

Given the state of cyber-security today, the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) systems may serve as a solution, bringing with them many benefits in helping to prepare the cyber-security workforce of tomorrow. Currently, the technology’s ability is simple, yet is still of great benefit, in that human staff are freed up to focus on more complex threats, with the AI/ML shield in place to deal with the high volume of more low-level attacks.

In the race to detect low-level penetration risks before they evolve into a more widespread issue, these tools are critical. In the future, they are likely to remediate situations autonomously. Of course, the attack technology will evolve in tandem, so ultimately you’ll have software autonomously fighting software, with white-hat and black-hat operatives’ main role being the curation of their creations. Inevitably, it will be a machine world, and we’ll just live in it.

Which leads to the Internet of Things (IoT), potentially a game changer for entire industries, even for organisations that have no direct interest in it. As the proliferation of smart devices creates greater opportunities for attack, increased connectivity means these attacks can themselves be more coordinated and disruptive. Even organisations that do not possess IoT devices themselves potentially face cyber-attacks from ‘botnets’, armies of corrupted and controlled devices.

The current media narrative around 5G security across the UK’s communication infrastructure, and how governments around the world are anticipating the technology, is a testament to its importance and the severity of the threat. On the one hand, IoT and 5G has the potential to provide a wide range of benefits on both a business and consumer level, however the security risk will increase exponentially as a result.

Underpinning these types of next-generation communication applications will be blockchain technology, with blockchain-based identity and access management systems being leveraged to inherently strengthen IoT security. Such systems are already in use to securely store information about identity, credentials, and digital rights.

As a result, it’s likely that we will see smart IoT devices carrying out autonomous processes via blockchain powered ‘smart-contracts’, which will be particularly prevalent in the finance sector.

For further details and a more in-depth exploration of these technologies, be sure to check out the ACCA website which hosts a range of resource on the subject. As a CFO, it’s absolutely critical subject matter. Using this type of information, it’s your role to anticipate these technologies and build them into your overall cyber-governance framework as we move into the 2020s and beyond.  

Please click here to access the free ACCA report. 

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