Over the past three decades, cybersecurity has become an increasingly critical concern for governments and businesses worldwide. With the rise of e-commerce and online transactions, cyber threats have become more sophisticated and frequent, causing financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities.
This is why governments and businesses are investing so heavily in cybersecurity – in order to protect their systems, data, and operations. Regardless of an organisation’s size or industry, investing in cybersecurity is essential, and we’re about to explain why.
On May 4th, Malta’s Information Technology Agency (MITA) held its second Cyber Breakfast Event – as co-funded by the European Union – which brought together several members of the National Cybersecurity Community (NCC).
Attendees were fortunate enough to hear from two distinguished experts. While Dr. Christian Colombo – senior lecturer at the University of Malta – provided valuable insights into the critical role of hardware security modules in protecting sensitive data from cyber threats, Sarah Armstrong-Smith – Chief Security Advisor of Microsoft – shared her expertise on the unique challenges that SMEs face when it comes to Incident Response.
80% of all cyber-attacks impact SMEs, and just like players in a game, cyber attackers and defenders constantly adapt to each other’s tactics and strategies.
As attackers relentlessly try to find new vulnerabilities and to gain unauthorised access to computer systems, defenders try to prevent such threats.
However, attackers may use social engineering, malware, or other malicious methods to overcome those defences. That’s why it’s important to make the game extra challenging for them. Meanwhile, the defenders –together with the business decision makers must constantly assess the likelihood and potential impact of various types of attacks, and decide how to best allocate their resources.
As Dr. Colombo remarks, ‘It’s a question of balancing the risks with the costs you’re willing to pay. Anything is breakable. You just need to make it hard enough for hackers to give up’. That’s where hardware security comes into play. Similar to a sturdy foundation that supports a house, hardware security forms the bedrock of any security system.
Hardware refers to the physical components of a computer system, including the CPU, memory, storage devices, and other components that must be protected from vulnerabilities that could compromise the integrity of the data and services they support.
One example of hardware security is a hardware security module (HSM): a physical device that provides secure storage and management of digital keys and other sensitive data. HSMs are widely used in industries like banking, financial services, and healthcare because these measures not only protect against physical damage like tampering or theft, but can also protect against firmware attacks, and supply chain attacks.
Yet, as Armstrong-Smith’s illuminating presentation underscores, hardware security is not enough on its own, especially for the business industry. Although it protects against physical threats, hardware security cannot defend against all types of cyber attacks, like phishing. That’s why it is necessary to combine it with other security measures, like firewalls, antivirus software, multi-factor authentication, intrusion detection, and awareness programs.
As Armstrong-Smith further emphasises, one should always consider the ability to restore their entire digital environment from scratch when thinking about data protection. By taking proactive steps to secure your digital assets and regularly reviewing your security posture, you can help prevent cyber attacks and safeguard your digital assets, data and after all the business crown jewels.
Should you be interested in knowing more about the National Cybersecurity Community, follow https://ncc-mita.gov.mt/national-cyber-community/. If you have what it takes to be a Community member, then take the opportunity and register.
This article is co-funded by the European Union.