Sir Isaac Newton first presented his three laws of motion in 1686. His third law, is widely known and states that, “for every action there is an equal and opposing reaction.” We see this in business. As technology advances at speed, it enables just as many opportunities as it introduces threats. Gains come but so do threats and losses. No company can escape either. To prosper, every IT decision maker and cybersecurity leader must anticipate, and the easiest way to do this is by reviewing past performance – yours and the markets.
How cybersecurity (the market) performed in 2022.
Cyber-attacks have risen from last year with the most common forms of attack being credential theft, phishing, misconfigured cloud, and vulnerabilities in third-party software. The average data breach lifecycle is still too lengthy, malware variants are growing by 45%, and although ransomware attacks were lower than last year, ransom payments are rising as more companies are prepared to pay out than ever before.
Bad actors continue to target all company sizes, from the smallest to the largest with employees at small companies (100 employees or less) seeing 350% more social engineering attacks than those at larger companies. Software failures and downtime issues have caused 37% of small businesses to lose customers, and 17% to lose revenue, clearly indicating that software-only security solutions are also no longer enough to defend against today’s advanced threats.
It’s not all bad news though. Cybersecurity is evolving and organisations who use hybrid cloud, automated technologies like AI and machine learning, zero trust approaches, have incident response plans in place that are regularly tested and sufficiently staffed cybersecurity teams, are shortening their data breach lifecycles, reducing the cost of impact, and becoming more cyber resilient.
But what more can be done to maximise advancements and minimise cyber threats? And what part does the Intel vPro platform have to play in enabling this? These were some of the questions I asked Sarah Wieskus, Global Commercial Sales Lead at Intel recently on my Women in Cybersecurity Podcast, which will be coming to you shortly, in the next couple of weeks. Until then, here are my thoughts.
Modern workforce demands and how they are changing.
The global pandemic has changed the way we work forever and despite some leaders trying to force an office-first workplace strategy, the future of work is distributed. People are working from their homes and cafes, or if they’re travelling for work, from airport lounges and hotel rooms. High quality cameras, audio and connectivity are expected, and so is flexibility.
Increasingly, employees want to work long-term in a hybrid or fully remote “work from anywhere” manner. Gallup confirmed this when they recently surveyed 8,090 remote-capable US employees and found 60% wanting such an arrangement. What’s more, having adapted satisfactorily to new ways of working during and beyond the pandemic, many now see this as a right rather than a perk.
Work today is global. Tasks are completed over many different time zones and locations by a variety of people – employees, contractors, fractional workers, suppliers, and outsourcing partners, who are collaborating and working in numerous teams simultaneously. Many are having to context switch every 30-minutes, switch off from surrounding distractions, and learn and unlearn new approaches and tools just to innovate or get their work done faster. The focus and brain power that’s required of people in the workplace right now is immense.
Employees don’t want to be disadvantaged unnecessarily when working remotely, and quite often this is dependent upon the technologies they’re using to collaborate in the office and with those outside of it. They want less friction and that’s why top talent is more often judging a company based on its employee experience (EX) and the technologies it provides. Smart IT decision makers are paying attention.
They understand that secure, performant, and manageable devices that work from anywhere aren’t a given, and that when they invest in PCs that are built for business, like those that support the Intel vPro platform, they’re not only more luring to future hires but meet the expectations of existing employees, thereby aiding retention. In fact, over three-quarters of full-time employees surveyed by Forrester last year said they were critical for customer satisfaction (69%), revenue growth (62%), and employee retention (55%). Quite simply, employees know the technologies they use, especially their PCs, impact their performance at work, and therefore their salaries and career progression.
Engaged employees are productive employees and IT decision makers and security leaders must know the returns that come from them. For every $1 spent on employee experience, $5 is returned and a 3% increase in a company’s bottom-line revenue results.
Managing generation cohorts and user wants.
Managing and motivating employees in the office is very different to that in a hybrid or remote environment. Leaders are having to deal with increasing workloads, and productivity pressures plus wellbeing and quiet quitting, as mental health issues rise. Successful management requires trust, psychological safety, effective communication, emotional intelligence, setting clear outcomes, and using technologies that reduce social risk, like stress, rather than distrust, micromanagement, and implementing technologies to monitor activities, like timekeeping, which worry employees.
With four generation cohorts in the workplace, as an IT decision maker or cybersecurity leader, understanding what makes each generation thrive and together as a group is crucial if you’re to maximise your organisation’s innovation, productivity, and cyber resilience plus lower IT management costs and security incidents.
Understanding Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, and Gen X, born between 1965-1980, is key as they make up most of the workforce. Despite being back-to-back generations and separated by some key differences, it’s Millennials I want to focus on for they’ve recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest adult cohort worldwide and will continue to be a major part of the population for many years to come.
Millennials are also becoming increasingly influential as many enter leadership. As purpose driven digital natives and having been dubbed the “green generation,” they demonstrate environmentally and socially conscious consumer behaviour, and demand instant access to information. As the largest, most educated, and culturally diverse generation to-date, they see technology as an extension of themselves and changing jobs more often than any other generation, they expect to be technically satisfied at work.
That means providing them with performance PCs with lightning-fast processors, smooth multitasking capabilities, studio quality video conferencing, frictionless connectivity, and enhanced data protection, so they don’t suffer embarrassing data breaches. The Intel vPro platform offers these features and supports how an employee really works – with multiple applications open at once, heavy media use, and constant toggling from any location.
Dealing with a lack of cybersecurity talent.
Cybersecurity has a worldwide skills gap of 2.7 million. The Great Resignation has added to the problem and post-pandemic workplace strategies continue to see fierce competition for existing talent. According to research, 63% of organisations have unfilled jobs, 62% are understaffed, 60% are struggling to recruit, 52% are having trouble with retention, and 67% agree the talent shortage is creating additional risks for their organisations (Fortinet).
Unsurprisingly, many IT decision makers and cybersecurity leaders have a Catch-22 situation on their hands. Without a well-resourced security team, they can’t deal with critical tasks and lessen incidents as they’re too busy responding to security alerts. That’s why there’s more chance of misconfigured systems, rushed deployments, slow patching, incomplete risk assessments, and longer data breach lifecycles.
Cybersecurity staff shortages leave a company vulnerable. And bad actors are making use of this situation as under-resourced and overworked teams tire and burnout more easily. Mimecast’s State of Cybersecurity 2022 reported attackers were not only making their spear phishing campaigns more sophisticated but sending them in the afternoon or during busy periods when they knew staff were more likely to be tired. Burnout is a serious problem. Last year, 84% of cybersecurity practitioners surveyed by 1Password said they felt burnout with 51% feeling extreme burnout, and this year, there seems to be little change.
How to simplify, maximise returns and work smarter not harder.
With digital transformation on overdrive, the workforce becoming more distributed, cyber-attacks increasing, competition for skills intensifying, and IT teams buckling under the pressure, it’s time for IT decision makers and cybersecurity leaders to engage their employees, simplify their technologies and work smarter not harder.
A great place to start is by considering your PC fleet and the Intel vPro platform especially if you seek business class performance or lack a dedicated in-house IT team. By offering hardware-enhanced security features that go beyond security software, the Intel vPro platform affords IT decision makers and cybersecurity leaders greater data and application protection by continuously monitoring for advanced threats wherever employees are.
Having a high-performing PC, built with the Intel vPro platform, quite simply means leaders can get the best performance out of their teams, as it enables an employee’s needs to be met, and for them to fulfil their potential.
Being ready right out of the box, verifying all parts of the PC platform for stability not just the CPU and chipset, and with advanced threat detection protection that uses aggressive hardware telemetry and AI to detect evolving threats like credential login, ransomware, and crypto jacking attacks, means data breach lifecycles can be shortened no matter where the attack happens and without slowing employees down.l And if employees have a PC issue, it can be repaired wherever it is, even if it’s outside the firewall, or if the OS has failed.
To conclude, when the workforce is distributed, competition for talent is fierce and cyber-attacks are rising, the Intel vPro® platform offers the functionality IT decision makers and cybersecurity leaders need. By simplifying your PC management and offering employees reliable stable computing, built-in security, and seamless connectivity enabled out of the box like you can do with the Intel vPro platform, you can take the stress out of securing the modern workforce and fulfil numerous business priorities.
Now, I want to hear from you…
Tell me, how are you taking the stress out of securing your workforce? What else needs to be done? Then head over to Intel to learn more about the Intel vPro platform and how you can ensure the security of your workplace.
Finally, in the spirit of full disclosure, please be aware that I’ve received compensation for promoting this #ad for Intel Because your success is important to me, I only align myself with brands I believe in, and Intel is one of them.