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New cybersecurity threats require better defense mechanisms

By OUYANG SHIJIA | China Daily | Updated: 2021-03-31 09:47
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With the rapid adoption of digital transformation, new cybersecurity threats and risks will emerge from the use of 5G, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies in the post-pandemic era, said entrepreneurs and experts. [Photo/IC]

With the rapid adoption of digital transformation, new cybersecurity threats and risks will emerge from the use of 5G, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies in the post-pandemic era, said entrepreneurs and experts.

"With the mass adoption of 5G-enbaled devices, we also expose more access points for hackers than before," said Adrian Chan, president of Palo Alto Networks Greater China. "We need to improve our capabilities to effectively identify those internet of things terminals and devices that can be used for attacks. Instead of responding after the cyberattack, we need to be better prepared before it occurs."

Looking ahead, the US-based cybersecurity company will be more focused on fields including hightech, internet, insurance, healthcare, education, media, tourism, hotel and aviation industries, Chan said.

"In the future, we'll pay more attention to industries shaped profoundly by digitalization," Chan said, adding that as the digital transformation will bring more online transactions, there are also challenges ahead such as cybersecurity concerns.

Chan said today's cyberattacks not only target individuals, but also governments and large enterprises. "We will continue to focus on serving large enterprises, helping international companies to defend risks in the China market and enabling Chinese enterprises to go global without security concerns."

Zhou Hongyi, founder and chairman of 360 Security Group, believes the future will be powered by software based on running programs.

"Software vulnerabilities are inevitable. Once attacked and controlled by hackers, the consequences can be catastrophic," Zhou said.

Zhou added that cybersecurity has become a key issue not only related to daily lives, but also closely related to national security, social security, urban security and infrastructure security.

For instance, 5G technologies will serve a wider range of industries, especially some key sectors closely related to national economic and social development. Once attacked, they will pose great threats to the safety of cities and even national security.

Looking into this year, a report released by Palo Alto Networks said the wider move to the cloud beyond light-touch functions, such as email, will see more work being virtualized and force many companies to review the security of their existing cloud environments.

"With the pandemic steering IT teams away from blue-sky thinking toward more nuts and bolts issues, 2021 will see more businesses shifting their IT focus inward to look at getting the fundamentals right and refocusing on things that are truly important," the report said. "Security now needs to work at the speed of the cloud, and any organization that is slow to recognize this in 2021 will only see vulnerabilities multiply exponentially."

According to the report, an increasing number of IoT devices will continue to get connected to the enterprise network in the future, and IoT will continue to be on the network and in the organization due to the immense potential benefits.

"Organizations see these devices as essential pieces of infrastructure, but they present unique challenges for security teams. IoT devices are connected to an enterprise's central network, yet they are generally unmanaged. For the most part, they are also unregulated. They can be shipped with unknown or unpatched vulnerabilities," the report noted.

In face of new threats and challenges ahead, Sean Duca, vice-president and regional chief security officer for Asia-Pacific and Japan at Palo Alto Networks, highlighted the importance of hiring quality talent, saying more efforts should be made to solve problems such as the gap between supply and demand of top internet talent.

In fact, the significant increase in the number of cybersecurity job opportunities has not been matched by an equivalent increase in talent.

"The key is to find the right talent," Duca said. "Talented professional cybersecurity staff are able to identify potential security threats, organize relevant personnel to respond quickly and effectively and reduce the ultimate loss to the enterprise. Professionals capable of explaining complicated special terms clearly are also badly needed."

He added that enterprises also need to utilize smart and automated technologies to reduce labor, which will allow cybersecurity talent to better focus on high-level security threat issues.

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