How cybersecurity is helping global sustainable development
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How cybersecurity is helping global sustainable development

How cybersecurity is helping global sustainable development

Cybersecurity requires a holistic view of the many different factors that contribute to our digital security, says Kaspersky

Gulf Business
sustainable development

With the UAE set to host COP28 at the end of the year, significant effort across all sectors in the country is being put into contributing to local, regional and global environmental sustainability goals. Under the UAE’s presidency, this COP will bring a renewed focus to delivering tangible results in an inclusive framework.

Indeed, 2023 has been named the “Year of Sustainability” in the UAE, bringing many opportunities for the private sector to contribute to new and existing initiatives, and to advance landmark frameworks such as the UAE’s Green Agenda.

What’s more, the UAE has also been an early advocate of digitalising as many activities as possible to improve efficiency and advance sustainable processes. Like other industries, cybersecurity has an important role to play in contributing to these objectives at both local and global levels. This manifests in some obvious and universal practices — as well as some lesser-known innovative areas.

For example, environmental health is increasingly tied to cyber command and control systems, for the simple fact that a cybersecurity failure in this field could have major societal impact.

We don’t need to go far to find proof of this statement. On February 5, 2021, criminals hacked into water treatment systems and attempted to poison the water supply for in Florida by increasing sodium hydroxide in it to dangerously high levels. Fortunately, vigilant employees noticed what was afoot and adjusted the chemical dosage. Otherwise, more than 15,000 residents of the state could have been affected by the poisoned water.

Similarly, data processes that are increasingly important for monitoring and evaluating our customers’ systems — often on national levels — can only be properly secured through cybersecurity operations. There’s also a crime prevention aspect to cybersecurity, such as contributing to technological approaches to disrupting environmental crimes, like satellites used to combat illegal poaching or logging operations. And as with any other digital-first industry, cybersecurity practitioners can also continually use better processes to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency across data storage and processing systems.

This is where company-specific activities become increasingly important — and is why at Kaspersky this month, in advance of COP28, we decided to release our first global Sustainability Report, drawn up accordance with the GRI and SASB international standards and focused on the results of the company’s sustainable development. We’re not only committed to making the cyberworld a safer place, but also to being a global socially responsible company. We cannot ignore the need to tackle challenges, which include reducing our carbon footprint, tackling the lack of cybersecurity basics and cyber-hygiene, narrowing the gender gap, and leading the way for transparency in cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity requires a holistic view of the many different factors that contribute to our digital security — in addition to areas that may seem unrelated to cybersecurity but may actually still be so. This includes being aware of social and economic trends that may affect overall digital safety and security, as well as having the tools to mitigate the risks. A critical part of this work involves partnerships with governments and international law enforcement agencies in order to help pursue cybercriminals that have a negative impact across other areas — including attacks that may harm the environment.

This is why public–private partnerships are essential for ensuring adequate responses globally. When governments are able to leverage the private sector’s global reach to positively influence outcomes through a company’s multinational presence, advantages and capabilities are amplified significantly as a result. With a proven track record of engaging with the private sector, the UAE’s presidency of COP28 later this year represents an important landmark for truly collaborative global approaches to supporting climate change across all sectors.

This includes cybersecurity, which stands to impact the environment in a number of innovative ways. For example, increasing transparency measures will allow consumers and governments alike to review key issues, including energy consumption, and thus make important assessments in a more informed manner. There’s also the trend toward improving efficiency at all levels of hardware, operating systems, and software.

Especially as ever-increasing computing power becomes more ingrained across all aspects of life, improvements in these areas will have an increasingly positive contribution to reducing energy demands. Here too, cybersecurity has plenty of scope to deliver results that will bring environmental benefits down the line.

Overall, by protecting critical infrastructure, securing data and information, preventing environmental crime, and reducing negative environmental impacts, cybersecurity can help promote and advance environmental sustainability goals. But like all sectors, we also need to innovate and adapt to the current reality of environmental sustainability needs — and this what’s driving our forward-looking approach to our business in the UAE and MENA region.

Genie Sugene Gan is the head of Government Affairs and Public Policy – APAC & META at Kaspersky

Read: Insights: Understanding good governance and its role in sustainable development

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