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Cybersecurity is the process of protecting computer devices, mobile phones, software, networks, and systems from cyberattacks. It is used by people and organizations to protect against malicious attacks and unauthorized access. The significance of cybersecurity continues to expand with an increasing number of gadgets, users in daily life but at the same time, the volume of hackers and cyber-attacks also continues to grow. There is a challenge for all organizations to maintain cybersecurity in an emerging threat landscape. There must be a proactive and adaptive approach to deal with the changing security risks. That’s why various organizations offer guidance for the protection of data.   

There is an example of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which suggests monitoring all the real-time assessments as a part of a risk assessment framework to safeguard against all risks. Information Technology is an important element to giving individuals and companies the IT tools required to safeguard themselves from hackers. Several entities must be protected like computers, smart devices, networks, routers, next-generation firewalls, malware protection, antivirus software, and security solutions from these attacks in 21st century.

Cybersecurity creates a lot of opportunities for state and non-state actors to maximize their benefits while hackers are getting involved in hacking for financial gains and beyond. The Stuxnet malware is a computer worm generated in 2010, created by the U.S National Security Agency, the CIA, and Israeli intelligence. It targets the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and is used to automate machine processes. This malware added a new dimension to cyber weapons and proved that it can be utilized for physical destruction. Another example of a cyber-weapon is Pegasus spyware for hacking sensitive information. Cyberspace has become more vital to hybrid war due to its multi-dimensional effect. For ages, information technology has played an important role during encounters. Information technology becomes frequent due to the emerging role of cyberspace.

Cybersecurity is becoming more complicated as the organizations grow and expand their business operations e.g., the attack surface of a Fortune 1000 company is larger than the small to medium enterprises. Cybersecurity is dealing with the growing correspondence between the cybernetic and physical arena of information technology, which is another serious challenge in today’s world. The policies of the Internet of Things (IoT) and BYOD give hackers more access to the virtual and physical systems as automatic cars and other robotics become norms globally which include factories, driverless cars, smart fridges, and gadgets, etc. 

The policy and regulations atmosphere is also complicating cybersecurity, especially the governmental discussion around the secrecy of consumerism. Recently, the European Union instigated the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) framework, crafting more obstacles for the organizations to confirm they can do business without suffering immense fines. The cybernetic atmosphere should be safer for all in a long term and there should be a balance that must be acquired between the security of consumers and offering them the new packages for their business.

Another emerging challenge of cybersecurity is the lack of IT experts to do their tasks. Cybersecurity experts who are aware of how to protect organizations from cyber attackers are exceptional. Those who understand how to overcome things, charge a heavy amount that small companies cannot bear. The big companies can afford these high-level security services to overcome the risk globally.

Competent IT security operations are always beneficial in preventing cyber-attacks. These operations include regular updates, strong and secure passwords, identification, management, and verification of software. Two important operations that might have protected against Stuxnet attacks are scanning of viruses of all-flash drives and other portable stuff.  Other operations for safeguarding commercial networks against cyber-attacks include the implementation of strong physical security for access to commercial networks like surveillance cameras and card readers.

The organizations must develop an incident response plan to retaliate swiftly to threats and reestablish the system rapidly. The companies must train their IT staff by using stimulated events and creating an atmosphere of security awareness. The best way to overcome the challenges of cybersecurity is to update the software frequently, avoid opening all suspicious emails, all the hardware must to update with the latest technologies, use a secure and safe file sharing solution, regular use of anti-virus and anti-malware, always make a strong password and use VPN to prioritize the networks. The emerging information technology also possesses a lot of challenges in executing an efficient cybersecurity policy. With respect to time, software changes frequently when updated and improved which introduces new risks. The key to efficiently handling the challenges of cybersecurity lies in the interplay of IT, education, pieces of training, and cyber awareness.

These challenges are not stagnant so the cyber experts must conduct training and workshops to identify the suspicious content as well as to raise awareness in the employees of the organization. System updates are the most important part of preventing cybersecurity risks that must not be disregarded and they must update the software timely to eliminate threats. In addition, companies should also invest in up-skilling and re-skilling of their resources to build a more robust talent pool to help in protecting their cyber ecosystem.

Although enhancing cybersecurity is a crucial stage, but it is suggested that the governments should establish coherent national action plans for overcoming the emerging challenges in the 21st century. The current developments towards automation, the internet, digitization, and interoperability need not be reciprocally exclusive of security. That’s why the emerging challenges of cybersecurity can only be scrutinized efficiently by understanding all the risk and threat domains. The threats can only be effectively resolved by policymakers, strategists, and those who control the front end of cybersecurity to lower the chances of threats. Research and capacity building by the governments about framing policies and their effectiveness is also required. They must formulate coherent plans and strategies in a productive manner for accountability and implementation. Enterprises must implement strong authentication processes and ignoring basic cyber hygiene makes a very common source of cybersecurity risks. There must be proper verification that must be instigated to protect all devices from cyber threats and to minimize the emerging challenges of cybersecurity. Tech leaders, cybersecurity experts, policymakers, and also cyber researchers need to structure their messages not only in the domain of cybersecurity, but also in the sector of information technology to avoid opacity and misapprehensions.

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Ms. Iram Zahid is working as a Research Assistant with National Institute of Maritime Affairs, NIMA,Bahria Univeristy, Islamabad. She has done her Master’s in International Relations from National Defence University, Islamabad.

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Ms. Iram Zahid is working as a Research Assistant with National Institute of Maritime Affairs, NIMA,Bahria Univeristy, Islamabad. She has done her Master’s in International Relations from National Defence University, Islamabad.

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