It's time for all companies to act together on cybersecurity issues

Vox Global head of cybersecurity Corey Ealons explains what companies need to know regarding their digital safety.

If you make payments with a debit or credit card, the odds are you’ve been the victim of a cyberattack in the past year. And, if you’ve ever worked for the federal government, you were probably one of the 21.5 million victims of the recent hack on the Office of Personnel Management.

Clearly, cybersecurity and data protection should be of interest in both the public and private sectors. Both entities agree we need to do more, but that’s where the discussion begins and ends. The lack of a national cybersecurity strategy is putting us all at risk. In fact, cyberattacks increased by 40% in 2014, but the bad guys were rarely prosecuted for their crimes.

There are separate conversations occurring within corporations and governments about big data: "How can we use it?" and "How do we protect it?" Right now, using big data is much more tantalizing than securing it. And privacy advocates are ever vigilant.

In February, President Barack Obama signed an executive order encouraging businesses to share more threat information with the federal government. However, companies have asked for additional protections to ensure that if the data they provide is stolen, or used for unintended purposes, they are shielded from liability. There has been some movement on this front, but not enough.

When it comes to cyberattacks on companies that have large caches of personal data, it is not a matter of if, but when. Businesses and government have a shared responsibility to protect sensitive digital information – and prepare for the worst.

For companies, this means developing a comprehensive cyber comms plan that includes auditing their current PR posture, educating employees about their role in guarding the company’s network structure, and building a solid crisis plan that allows for a quick response during breaches to protect client data, proprietary information, and the company’s reputation.

 For government, this means being transparent about the collection and use of information so that citizens feel safe. It also means creating a safe environment for businesses to openly share information on potential cyber threats without fear of repercussions.

Today, our nation’s strength is judged increasingly on the strength of our digital network. That alone makes it worth protecting. 

Corey Ealons is an SVP and head of cybersecurity at Vox Global.

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