Although the topics of climate change and cyber security seem worlds apart, the reality is that they’re deeply interconnected. The intersection of the two fields is a complex and rapidly evolving domain that demands attention from enterprises across industries and market verticals.
In this article, we’ll explore key points pertaining to climate change and cyber security overlap and discuss steps that business leaders can take to mitigate risks and to build a more secure, sustainable and resilient future — all while addressing environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) goals.
Organizations that fail to integrate cyber security and environmental imperatives into governance strategies will be less resilient in years to come.
Climate and cyber security
The issues are multi-dimensional and can take on a kaleidoscope of patterns and shapes that can multiply and cascade in an endless number of ways. But, to give you a sense of a few common challenges at the intersection of climate change and cyber security…
Imagine that a major storm disrupts a critical infrastructure entity, damaging specialized equipment that hundreds of thousands of customers rely on. In turn, the affected enterprise may need to rebuild technologies, offload service requests to adjacent locales, or engage in other emergency measures. An environmental event with this type of impact presents a security challenge unlike any other.
Infrastructure entities that are organized, that have resources, and that retain strong cyber capabilities may be able to navigate instability and sudden changes without introducing security vulnerabilities or temporary security gaps. But many organizations would struggle to balance agility, a complex labyrinth of shifting systems, technologies and processes, and service provisioning. A simple blind spot could leave the door open to hackers.
In another commonly cited example of how climate change and cyber security intersect, an extreme weather event could disrupt a supply chain, stalling the transportation or distribution of a product. When electric jolts of chaos are injected into an intricate and knotty supply chain, cyber criminals can easily swoop in and meddle with software, tamper with information, or steal proprietary data.
Becoming more sustainable
To mitigate extreme climate-related cyber security issues, ensure that your organization adheres to the following cyber security best practices:
1. Regularly conduct risk assessments. Risk assessments can provide organizations with visibility into potential climate-related threats ahead of an event. Once possible threats have been identified, organizations can create incident response and business continuity plans. These types of resources can smooth transitions amidst tremulous, unforeseen operational shifts.
2. Build a culture of cyber security. Cultivate a culture of cyber security by promoting awareness of climate-related cyber threats among employees and stakeholders. Accomplish this via training, awareness campaigns and regular communications.
3. Develop contingency plans. Organizations must have contingency plans to prepare for and respond to potential disruptions and disasters related to climate change and cyber security. Ensure that your organization adheres to data backup best practices and that incident response plans exist in both paper and digital formats.
4. Invest in technology. Organizations should invest in cyber security solutions that can address climate risks while improving technology ecosystems. For instance, threat intelligence platforms can provide real-time information about weather-related risks across diverse regions, helping organizations prepare for potential disruptions.
5. Promote innovation. Explore the use of technologies that can automate cyber security processes and thereby reduce the risk of human error. This can improve your organization’s overall cyber security posture.
The intersection of cyber security and climate change is varied and complex. By ensuring adherence to best practices, organizations can improve their performance and contribute to a more sustainable and more secure future — for themselves and for everyone else in the business ecosystem.
At the end of the day, advanced cyber security mitigations and measures can address climate change and create better prospects and outcomes for people and the planet at-large.
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