Dynamic business leader and global cybersecurity expert, Charles Eagan, is the Chief Technology Officer of BlackBerry. We spoke with him about his interpretation of emerging technology trends in Canada’s digital economy and his insights on how enterprise executives can make their intelligent cyber environments more secure.

Mediaplanet: What kind of changes have you seen in Canadian organizations and their outlook on data security in the past year?

Charles Eagan: Canadian organizations are demonstrating intense growth in their awareness of the need to secure their data. They’re beginning to understand the complexity of security issues as well as their global and shareholder responsibility to protect data, and they’re reaching out to experts more.

Recent mass privacy breaches have raised public awareness of the importance of transparency and responsible stewardship when it comes to how companies manage data.

MP: What do you think is the biggest misconception preventing company executives from understanding the importance of developing a cyber resilience strategy?

CE: It’s a complex topic that I think many executives aren’t sure how to approach. I think the biggest misconception is the belief that as long as organizations have a strong security posture, they’re safe. There’s a certain amount of complacency, likely grounded in the common bias of optimism — a fallacy of invincibility. Executives don’t realize how exponential growth in connected products is making them more vulnerable to cyber intrusion by the day. A strong cyber resiliency strategy includes both recognizing the inevitability of an attack as well as developing a plan to ensure the business can maintain critical functions and quickly return to normal in the face of intrusions.

MP: According to Statista, the number of connected mobile devices is expected to rise to 31.9 million by 2019. As more organizations start to adopt smart technology into their enterprise operations, how will this increase affect enterprise security?

CE: The rapid expansion of the vast global network of IoT connected devices makes cyber intrusion inevitable. All of these connected smart devices and access to those devices become targets with every connected node exponentially increasing the security risk of a network. If a single endpoint in a smart system is unprotected, the entire system is at risk. With this smart world comes a lot more exposure. It can be managed, but it will require that organizations up their games in terms of securing every endpoint.

MP: How can leveraging machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology optimize enterprise security?

CE: Maturing ML and AI technologies are giving rise to new possibilities for cyber threat protection. ML and AI allow us, for instance, to automatically flag unusual patterns and enable the detection of network problems and cyber attacks in real-time.

These technologies are being developed to recognize patterns in our environment and apply complex analytics that will supply deeper insights and greater security.

While the technology is still developing, rapid advances in the science mean we’re getting closer to the end of the flawed model of traditional passwords by replacing them with a digital identity that’s functionally impossible to clone.

MP: What do you see as some of the biggest cyber resilience pain points that company executives should keep on their radars over the next couple of years?

CE: Once awareness has been achieved, CIOs and company executives will face challenges in finding a workforce with the skillset required to support their strategy. It’s been widely reported that there’s a visible talent shortage across the sector, with demand continuing to exceed supply for highly-specialized IT, strategic planning, and cybersecurity skills needed to supply resilience across organizations.

Another challenge of joining the connected world is staying ahead of the continually-evolving threat environment. As the threats mature, truly resilient organizations must continually assess situations and absorb new intelligence, lessons learned, and emerging practices that can incorporated into their plans.