Around 2,500 power brokers from over 100 countries are gathered at the elite World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos, Switzerland, this week to discuss the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — a new wave of technology like artificial intelligence and robotics that look set to transform the world.
But one of the world’s most prominent cyber security experts has serious reservations about the speed which we’re hurling ourselves at the future.
Malcolm Marshall, Global Head of Cyber Security practice at “Big Four” accountant and consultancy KPMG International, told Business Insider on the sidelines of Davos that governments and businesses have yet to even master the “third industrial revolution” — the rise of the internet — let alone the fourth.
“We were going into this ‘industrial revolution’ and trying to master it, even though we have failed to secure ourselves in the third one,” Marshall told Business Insider.
His point is that security breaches like hacking are still a major problem — and the impact of security issues could be hugely magnified is connectivity, robotics, and AI take hold. UBS issues a similar warning this week.
“It’s like we are building cars that go 500 miles per hour but only building brakes that can cope with 30 m.p.h,” Marshall says. “Security should be built in from the start and people have got to change the perception that security gets in the way of innovation. We need to make sure security is innovative, more agile, easier to use. Few of the world’s organisations understand this.”
Marshall has over 27 years of experience advising clients on how to mitigate risks like those posed by the new way of technology.
He says that governments and corporations are still playing catch up when it comes to preventing attacks or at least installing the right personnel, training, products and services.
And underestimating cyber security is a serious thing for a business, says Marshall.
“A cyber attack is a much cheaper and potentially more ethical weapon for people to use and, in the event of war breaking out, commercial businesses are in that battlefield,” Marshall told BI.
“A large part of that battlefield is actually through civilian business infrastructure as well as country infrastructure, not just taking out power grids. Even peace-loving countries can’t defend themselves without offensive capabilities.”
Marshall says there are ways to mitigate these issues: “Companies are not investing in the capability and some just think by paying twice as much for one cyber security expert will solve everything — it does in the very short term but not in the long term. Altruistically, companies should just invest in training all staff so everyone has at least a basic knowledge of cyber security.”
And companies need at least one cyber security expert on their board in 2016, says Marshall.
“The cyber security board member expert isn’t just there to answer a question here and there,” Marshall says. “That person should be there to continually question every business process about what security has been taken to safeguard against potential cyber security risks.”
Another improvement is potentially doing away with passwords and using more biometrics — such as voice recognition and fingerprints.
“It’s time we found ways to get rid of the password. They are no longer viable and considering the extent of how much we live our lives online, we need to find ways to make ourselves more secure. After all, think of how many passwords we use and how hard it is to remember them all. Even I have had to constantly reset my passwords because I keep forgetting them.”
It’s for this reason that he says that Apple “beat the competition” with its technology. Not just that, they have made a relatively old form of technology “cooler” and therefore broken the misconception that being more secure is more of a hassle.
“The tech around Apple Touch ID has been around for ages but the way Apple implemented it makes security a lot better than the normal password and has made it cool. It is the only organisation that is able to do this. Usually, people think that you have to trade off ease with being more secure but it’s not true,” says Marshall.
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