Infocon – Kolkata 2016:Inaugural address

 

Respected Dignitaries on the stage, dignitaries in the audience, and friends,

It is an honor for me to be present here today in the inaugural session of “Infocon-Kolkata 2016”. Some of you might be wondering what is a monk doing in an IT conference. Well, I come from Ramakrishna Mission Shilpamandira, Belur Math. My attending this conference itself indicates the urgent importance of information security in our organizations. While on the one hand there is the urgent need for organizations to identify & implement proper security systems, similarly on the other hand is the much more urgent need of educating the present and future generations regarding cyber-security fundamentals. Training in this area is going to assume a huge proportion very soon. The recent market research reports indicate that global cyber-security market will reach $170 billion by 2020, with a total spending of $1 trillion during the five-year period from 2017 to 2020. In fact so looming is the clear and present danger, in the wake of more and more penetration of computers into every aspect of our lives and our organizations, that some people say it’s not a question of if you will be hacked, but when!

Being in the field of computer education, I have been observing that Information security is a topic that will soon take a place at the very top of organizations and will feature strongly in their strategic plans in the near future. Having a strong plan to protect our organizations from cyber-attacks is fundamental. So is a recovery plan to help you deal with the aftermath of a potential security breach. Security standards are becoming a must for every organization nowadays since cyber criminals aren’t targeting only the finance and technical organizations; they are threatening every single organization out there. So, just as individuals and organizations have been seeking regular legal and financial help, I see a growing future for expertise and consultancy in cyber-security and data privacy. The common vulnerabilities and exploits used by attackers in the past reveal that fundamental cyber security measures are lacking in our organizations. It is said that cyber criminals use less than a dozen vulnerabilities to hack into organizations and their systems, because they don’t need more. All that most of us in India do today is buy an ‘Anti-virus’ package and rely entirely on that. Relying on antivirus as a single security layer and failing to encrypt data is an open invitation for attackers. It just screams: “Our organization is open for hacking!” The exploits of hackers are multiplying aggressively, so protecting our organizations also entails keeping an eye out for new dangers. Of course, all this is just adding to the administrative overhead of the work we do, but we have to learn to deal with it!

The 2015 World Economic Forum highlighted the issue of how organizations all over the world fail to understand their vulnerability to attack. The problem is that security risks are seldom obvious. And technology isn’t the only source for security risks. Psychological and sociological aspects are also involved here. Hence organizational culture plays a major role in how cyber-security is perceived and handled.

I have seen that most people confuse compliance with a cyber-security policy. We still haven’t graduated to having an integrated compliance policy which includes clear focus on cyber-security also. Educating people in all these aspects is assuming a great urgency. I won’t be exaggerating if I say that with each passing day, technology is bringing all of us closer and closer; if one of us gets compromised, all of us are in danger. Society is reaching that stage of interconnection very soon. I hope and pray that endeavors like today’s conference awaken the people up to their responsibilities in the cyber-world.

I wish this conference all success, and congratulate you all for attending it. I will end by chanting a Sanskrit prayer:

Durjanah sajjano bhuyaat, sajjanah shaantimaapnuyaat;

Shanto muchyeta bandhebhyo, muktaschaanyaan vimochayet

May the evil-minded become good; may the good people attain peace; may the peaceful ones become free, and may the free ones help others to attain freedom.

Thank you all.

************

 

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Author: Swami Vedatitananda

Monk of the Ramakrishna Order

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