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Cybersecurity in Defence: Macroeconomic Trends

By GlobalData Thematic Research 11 Mar 2021 (Last Updated March 11th, 2021 12:00)

Innovation is critical to countering the evolving threat landscape, and will drive cybersecurity spending in the defence sector despite Covid-19’s economic impact.

Cybersecurity in Defence: Macroeconomic Trends
Credit: Sigmund on Unsplash

The need for security, along with the idea that innovation is critical to counter the evolving threat landscape, will drive cybersecurity spending despite Covid-19’s economic impact. Companies worldwide are expected to spend $115bn on security in 2020. The global security industry will be worth nearly $238bn by 2030, having grown at a compound annual growth rate of 6.4% between 2019 and 2030.

Macroeconomic Trends

Listed below are the key macroeconomic trends impacting the cybersecurity in defence theme, as identified by GlobalData.

Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased cyber risk significantly. Remote-working is here to stay, with most office-based employees working from home for the foreseeable future. Until a vaccine is available, businesses will have to factor in greater cyber risk. Attacks will continue to target the tools used by remote workers, including fake requests to reset virtual private network (VPN) accounts, faked sign-in pages video conferencing accounts, or bogus incoming chat request from colleagues on corporate messaging systems.

Many companies have mandated employees to undertake cybersecurity training to educate them against attacks, particularly phishing.

Election security

From Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s role in the UK’s Brexit referendum, there are international concerns about the impact of unwarranted cyber activity on democracy. Disinformation campaigns and deepfake technology are being used to influence public opinion, major transportation systems can be disrupted to prevent citizens from getting to the polls, and there have been attacks on voter registration databases.

European privacy regulators remain concerned about its Election Day Reminder feature, a notification the platform displays to users on the day of an election, ostensibly to encourage voter participation. Social media companies’ role in the 2020 US presidential election has also come under scrutiny, with President Trump threatening to empower federal regulators to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives social media companies broad authority to moderate speech on their platforms.

The cyber skills shortage

The cybersecurity industry remains in critical need of qualified people. According to international cybersecurity organization (ICS)2, the current cybersecurity workforce gap in the US is nearly 500,000, and the global gap in November 2019 was over four million jobs.

The dearth of cyber talent inevitably means that skilled professionals will continue to gravitate to the biggest companies paying the highest salaries, putting under resourced, smaller companies at greater risk of cyberattack.

Psychology as part of security assessment

Psychology will be a focus for security during 2020, as companies attempt to understand how attackers and their staff think. Cyber attackers are usually at least one step ahead of those defending the enterprise. Understanding the psychology of attackers, from state-supported actors to individual troublemakers, may help organisations identify the weaknesses in their defences.

Organisations typically use personality testing in recruitment, and the same tests could also be used to identify those most vulnerable to cyber threats. Human factors should also be part of incident management analysis when organisations analyse security threats or breaches.

Understanding people to deliver better security

On top of understanding attackers’ motivation, organisations such as the Royal Holloway University of London’s Information Security Group and the National Cyber Security Centre want to get a better understanding of employees’ perspectives on security.

Adopting an approach that understands how people work is likely to help drive better-designed security technologies and practices that support people’s needs, rather than creating a user-unfriendly system that leads to security breaches as people seek workarounds. This people-centric approach is backed by suppliers like Proofpoint, which advocates deploying a solution that gives users visibility into who, how, and why someone is being attacked, and whether they clicked on something.

Attacked companies are more likely to pay ransoms

An increasing number of organisations suffering ransomware attacks are deciding that paying up is their best policy. According to a survey on the Dark Reading security website, fewer respondents reported ransomware attacks in 2019 than in 2018, but the number reportedly paying an attackers’ ransom nearly quadrupled to 15% of those that suffered a ransomware attack. The challenge for the cybersecurity industry will be to reduce both the number of attacks and the number of organisations opting to pay the ransom.

Attacks on the rich and famous

The alleged hack of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos showed that even the very richest are not immune to sophisticated cyberattacks. The 2018 attack, apparently involving the WhatsApp messaging service, was reported to have spooked wealthy individuals into looking for bespoke personal cybersecurity services to protect themselves.

With geopolitical tensions rising and more countries investing in cyber warfare, a growing service area is executive threat exposure reviews, which involves scanning the web for personal information that could find its way onto social media sites and be used in customised phishing attacks against wealthy individuals.

Governments step up their cyber offense

Governments are moving to create and justify their use of offensive capabilities against cyberterrorists and cybercriminals. The problem is that they want to operate under a cloak of secrecy. The UK is on the verge of announcing an offensive cyber force to match that of the US.

The UK National Cyber Force is expected to comprise 500 cyber specialists. It is likely to be a joint operation between the Ministry of Defence and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and follow appropriate rules of engagement that would allow it to take action against hostile states and terror groups by targeting their satellite, mobile, and IT networks.

This is an edited extract from the Cybersecurity in Defense – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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