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How does cybersecurity contribute to national security in the digital age?

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In today’s digital world, cybersecurity is vital for protecting and maintaining the foundational elements of our society, including national security, digital privacy, individuals’ protection, business resiliency, and digital trust.

Cybersecurity as a Condition of National Security

The vitality of today’s societies and national economies depends on secure cyberspace. Cyberwar, cyber espionage, hacktivism, and cyberterrorism all affect national security. Ensuring the safety and resiliency of society against hacktivists, nation-states, cyber threat actors, and cybercriminal organizations is paramount. Cybersecurity plays a critical role in political stability, protection from physical harm due to compromised critical infrastructures, and economic health. Proper cybersecurity systems enhance respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, trust in institutions, and an equitable society. All of this is at stake in the event of a successful attack on a nation’s cyberinfrastructure.

Cybersecurity as a Condition of Digital Privacy

Privacy is a human right, but in today’s digital society, the convenience of having the world at our fingertips often comes at the cost of compromised digital privacy. While digitization offers tremendous potential for innovation, it cannot come at the expense of compromised privacy. Ensuring everyone benefits from advances, innovations, and conveniences while protecting privacy is critical to our societal success.

Cybercriminals stealing private and sensitive information can expose and disrupt individuals’ lives, taking months or years to recover from such disruptions.

Cybersecurity as a Condition of Protecting Individuals

Society depends on safe transportation, clean water and air, safe food and medicine, and resources supplied by manufacturers connected to our digital infrastructure. Disruptions to these critical systems due to cyberattacks can endanger people’s lives.

Cybersecurity as a Condition of Business Resiliency

Ransomware and malware attacks targeting organizations have significant disruptive potential, causing damage to businesses, affecting financial viability, brand reputation, and consumer trust. Cyberattacks are now considered part of the “new normal,” and it’s a matter of when, not if, an organization will fall victim. To enhance business resiliency, organizations must have clear oversight, processes, and procedures in place for cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity as a Condition of Digital Trust

Trust is an essential element in every transaction, from online purchases to international diplomacy. Digital trust is the expectation that digital technologies and the organizations providing them will protect stakeholder interests and uphold societal expectations and values.

However, with the rapid evolution of digital technology, trust can be undermined through phishing attacks, deepfakes, and other digital deceptions. Increasing awareness and educating individuals on these dangers can help mitigate the impact of malicious campaigns and build a safer internet. Additionally, equipping companies with advanced technologies is crucial to preventing data theft and maintaining trust in the digital realm.

By Barbara Maigret, SVP, Global Head of Sustainability; Chair of the CSR Committee at Fortinet

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