The epic and exponential rise in cybercrime is a subject of near-daily discussion in the national and local news. Whether it’s from ransomware, identity theft, digital corporate espionage, information warfare, compromised election systems or hacked critical infrastructures—increasingly all of our information systems are under attack. While the media is quick to report on the “what” of each data breach (for example, company X was hacked so change your password to that account), they rarely delve into the why and the how. How are these attacks taking place, and why are they growing at a pace so much quicker than all other forms of criminal activity? Without understanding the “why and how” of cybercrime, we are doomed to fail in our battle against cyberattacks.
The intersection between cybersecurity and data privacy is making front-page news these days. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), adopted by the European Union in 2016 and implemented in May 2018, represents a comprehensive regulatory effort with the objective of protecting consumer data and privacy. Organizations, or “controllers” of data in the language of the laws, must put in place “appropriate technical and organisational measures” to implement the data protection principles. There have been other legislative efforts in recent years dedicated to consumer data protection - the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the U.S. being one of them (though some of those regulations have since been removed or eased), but GDPR has been the most extensive.
My phone’s been ringing this morning from people wanting to talk about the massive Marriott breach — the revelation that private data associated with up to 500 million people may have been compromised. I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn from the details, but in the meantime, I’ll take a quick minute to jot down some initial thoughts:
In 2004, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) became a fact of life for organizations that accept payment via credit or debit cards. In that year, the leading card issuers rolled out the first iteration of its security standard, designed to improve protection of payment systems as credit card data became a prime target for cyberattackers. Today, even as organizations have entire teams dedicated to PCI compliance, one consumer business after another—including Macy’s, Adidas, Panera Bread and Chili’s—have been breached, resulting in exposure of cardholder data.
More than $2.5 trillion in mergers were announced in the first half of 2018—a new record. Ranked by value of the deal, energy and power deals led, followed by media and entertainment, with healthcare and industrials close behind. Industries are converging and organizations are using acquisitions, divestitures, and other forms of asset remix to reposition their businesses. For example, there are numerous mergers among pharmaceutical, life sciences, and biotech companies as they seek to gain traction in a highly fragmented market. EY predicts that the total value of life sciences M&A will surpass $200 billion in 2018. According to Deloitte, technology acquisition is the primary driver of M&A pursuits, ahead of expanding customer bases in existing markets, and adding products or services.
At a recent industry event, I got to chatting with the CISO of a major children’s hospital. Over a beer, he shared with me the challenges he faces daily. Our far-reaching conversation covered nation-state actors enticing students to exfiltrate clinical trial test results, to his search for a secure USB port cover for patient-facing devices. Maybe it was the beer, but as he described his tribulations, each to me worse than the next, his enthusiasm and energy grew. Every so often he stopped to shake his head in disbelief at his own story as if to say, “Even I can’t believe how bad this is…”