Reflections on 2020 and thoughts for 2021

An opportunity to reflect on 2020 from a cybersecurity perspective.
What have been the challenges and successes through the year?
Learnings that you’d like to share with others?
Top tips and recommendations for 2021?

For me the pandemic has emphasized the criticality of the Internet to so many of us, and the the absolute need to build cyber hygiene worldwide. Without the basics the good people don’t have a chance against cyber attackers. While there remain sophisticated attackers, like those that compromised security vendors and government agencies, the most important first step for everyone is to do the basics right.

2020, a year no one will ever forget. This pandemic has demonstrated the very best and sadly the very worst of human behaviour. My proud memory is the sense of community spirit, teamwork, developing relationships, focusing on the task in hand of balancing the need to find a vaccine, whilst keeping our citizens safe, supporting our families, work colleagues and a huge appreciation for our health and other key workers. The Internet has been critically important to keeping economies alive, businesses afloat and families in virtual contact. Who will ever forget the Zoom Quiz? Whist the Internet has been a lifeline to many, my sadness is seeing the worst of human behaviour. Criminals targeting the dramatic and sudden increase in home working for example, where cyber security is either basic or non-existent. The learning from this rise in cybercrime for 2021 is implement basic free cyber security measures. Like the pandemic think hygiene.

As some one pointed out to me recently “cyber still hits the headline despite , BREXIT, Trump, Covid etc”. Also Covid has taught me that criminals will go as low and as wide as possible. Some people have said Covid has put travel back to the 1970’s while tech has gone to 2030. Everyone is on line , all those grandmas who said they would never shop or bank on line have done so. This has created rich pickings for the criminals. It’s like crossing the street , it is risky but there are safe ways of doing things and we can help people to be even safer. One thing which also hit me is that if there we no cyber crime , we could probably pay for Covid19 debt in 5 years, that’s a pretty good ROI. Ie the cost of Cyber is the same as the GDP of Canada being stolen every year

In the end, the feared ‘Cyber 9/11’ has come in the form of a real-life virus. It is undeniable that COVID19 and its impact on global digitalisation has been the one disruptive event that, finally, has brought cybersecurity to the centre of the public debate.

Cybersecurity is no longer an option. It is no longer a cryptic reservoir of technical jargon and complicated messages. Cybersecurity is now part of everybody’s life, and it is here to stay.

I am very proud that the Global Cyber Alliance’s response to this unique situation has been so timely and effective. From the Work from Home campaign—designed and implemented in the blink of an eye—and our multilingual Cybersecurity Toolkit for Small Business—now offering protection to a target audience of 2.4 billion people (!)—to new and fascinating projects such as Domain Trust and the Cybersecurity Toolkit for Journalists, GCA has not only adapted quickly to the ‘new normal’ but it has also been able to advance significantly in its mission, now more global than ever.

It is been a year of hard work, but I think we have set the foundations for our future work: closer to real users, more multilingual, with a more global and deeper outreach, and with a clear vision on the systemic topics that will shape up the future of cybersecurity, such as the fight against domain abuse and routing security.