This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, cybercriminals have far too much to celebrate. Attacks are rising in sophistication and brazenness, and no company or organization is immune. We could panic. Or we could lock arms, fight the good fight and put customers first. I vote for the latter. 

Hop in the time machine

When October was first dubbed Cybersecurity Awareness Month in 2004, no one — unless you’re a time traveler or incredibly prescient — could have envisioned the current digital landscape.

If 2004 doesn’t feel like that long ago, consider that the first iPhone was still three years away. Windows XP was having its reign. Facebook was just launching. When it came to internet search, Google and Yahoo were still neck and neck.

Much of the advancement since then has been thrilling, and arguably positive. But as technology has advanced rapidly, so too have the capabilities of those who would exploit it. With the rise of AI and an increasingly digital world, we may be at a tipping point between progress and peril. As we speed toward even more technological advancement, it has never been more urgent that the entire industry works together to put security at the forefront.

What’s at stake

The consequences of neglecting cybersecurity in our hyperconnected world are stark and far-reaching. From critical infrastructure to personal privacy, the very foundations of our digital existence hinge on robust security measures. The integrity of our governments and financial systems, the protection of sensitive data and the resilience of our digital infrastructure all hang in the balance.

If it sounds like I’m being dramatic, I wish I were. The threat scope is very real. Here are some of the most eye-popping statistics:

Now imagine — you’re on the frontlines — as an IT and/or security resource inside a company that is a ripe target for attack. Further imagine that the tools you have to battle are dated, not integrated, and clunky. Unfortunately, many don’t have to imagine.

Ivanti’s most recent Digital Employee Experience report shows that 57% of IT workers encounter a significant amount of technology ‘friction’ at work. Additionally, our cybersecurity survey indicates 1 in 5 security professionals feel ill-equipped to adequately protect their organizations.

There is a course of action to take. Here’s a closer look at what’s happening right now and what needs to happen next:

1. Rapidly evolving threat landscape

The digital battleground is more complex than ever. Attack vectors are increasing exponentially, from alarmingly convincing phishing attacks to insidious ransomware campaigns. AI poses a serious risk where in the future it could enable those with little to no coding expertise to wage sophisticated attacks, further enhancing the rapid proliferation of threats. 

To effectively protect against sophisticated threats, security teams need complete visibility into an organization's threat landscape. That’s step one. 

2. Lack of cybersecurity talent

The shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals is making a challenging situation worse. With too much to handle and not enough people to handle it, everyone is spread thin, which means gaps. Bridging the talent gap is a multifaceted problem. 

Automation must be part of the solution — not as a replacement for skilled workers, but as an enhancement. Focusing on the digital employee experience, proper tools and the right environment are key. In Ivanti’s recent DEX survey, we found that IT teams are strained, and IT workers reported tech stress because of too many digital notifications (47%), too many tools (42%) and too many logins (39%). 

3. Vendor collaboration and information sharing

Effective cybersecurity requires seamless cooperation between vendors, researchers and government entities. This isn’t a place for competition. We must establish transparent information-sharing channels to respond swiftly to emerging threats.

4. Responsible disclosure and vulnerability management

Identifying vulnerabilities is only part of the battle. As an industry, we must follow responsible disclosure practices to protect potential victims. There’s a fine line between the need for ethical security researchers to highlight issues and disclosing information that would magnify the vulnerability if a patch isn’t available yet. Education and clear guidelines are essential in navigating this delicate balance.

5. Regulatory compliance and data protection 

Patchwork regulatory compliance leads to patchwork results. A standardized federal data protection measure is critical, but in the meantime, security teams must challenge themselves to manage to the highest possible level of compliance — not the bare minimum. 

Locking arms and fighting the good fight

If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Ultimately, the aim is and must continue to be  protecting our customers and our increasingly digital infrastructure. 

It’s a tall order, but our strength lies in unity. And the time is now. Cybersecurity Awareness Month traces back to when the digital frontier as we know it today began taking shape. Since then, this annual event has grown into a global initiative, mobilizing individuals, organizations and governments to take proactive steps in fortifying our collective digital defenses.

This month serves as a rallying cry, a call to arms for all stakeholders to prioritize cybersecurity in an era where the stakes have never been higher. It’s a perfect time to forge stronger connections between vendors, researchers and public and private entities. We are far stronger together than siloed.