Julian Cracknell, Managing Director at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, considers a world reshaped by Covid-19, a world that is slowly starting to take shape on the horizon
During the last 18 months or so, it’s often been difficult to remember life before Covid-19 took root in our daily lives. We’ve all had to adapt in many ways with effects in every area of our lives.
But with vaccination rates edging ever upwards we can increasingly start to think in more detail about what the world will look like beyond the pandemic. Already, it’s clear that we’re not going to go back to how things were. On the contrary, a new future is now starting to emerge.
Securing cyber space
In cyber space we’ve seen some real shifts over the past 12 months, with the threat becoming ever acute for most large organisations. Some attacks have been extremely high profile, such as Solar Winds, which targeted the supply chain of many large organisations and involved an incredibly sophisticated penetration to get behind the defences of lots of organisations.
Then there was the $50 million Acer attack, thought to be the largest ransomware incident in history, and Colonial Pipeline, a pipeline in the US supplying 2.5 million barrels daily, which was shut down for six days, again by a ransomware demand.
The similarities that pervade all of these incidents are around supply chain security, vulnerabilities in enterprise products and the potency of the ransomware threat. To respond, governments need to deploy all of the tools at their disposal – a federated approach taking in not just law enforcement and policy, but also closer collaboration with the private sector, which provides so much of the infrastructure.
Cloud technologies, meanwhile, are now ubiquitous but the use of cloud for secure and sensitive data is also becoming more possible. Similarly, data – its use and understanding, acquisition and exploitation – is increasingly the oil that powers the engines of our enterprises.
And space is becoming ever more democratised. The cost of launch is coming down year on year and the scale and size of satellites are also reducing. These two factors mean reasonably priced access to space and space technologies is now something that is achievable for a vastly different range of organisations even five years ago.
In the UK, the government’s Integrated Review talked about the UK becoming a responsible cyber power, identifying a mandate for the UK to help its allies around the world to improve their security and ensure that cyber space is a safer place for everyone to operate in.
Cyber power has three elements. Firstly, the ability to defend a nation and its citizens from attack. Secondly, the licence to operate – the system of regulations, laws and policies that enable cyber power to be used effectively. And thirdly, the power to respond – the power to disrupt, deny and degrade people attacking one’s infrastructure. This needs a coordinated approach across all government agencies and its allies within the cyber power ecosystem.
When it comes to cloud technology, we’re seeing increased use of classified cloud or making increased use of public cloud and integrating that into classified environments. Here at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, we’re supporting our clients by using both of these approaches, and we’re also focusing on novel artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.
For us, it’s about how you take that innovative work in a lab and take that into a live environment, turning it into actionable data and intelligence. And of course all of this has to be done within a clear ethical framework.
Sustainability in action
This focus on ethics leads on to priorities such as our commitment to be a carbon net zero company by 2030.
On the social agenda, one of the more positive elements to come out of the pandemic is a real focus on wellbeing and all of us as individuals supporting each other and recognising the challenges that others face. We have also established new talent programmes and a whole series of ways to broaden the diversity of our organisation to be representative of the societies we work in.
And from a governance perspective we have very robust frameworks in place around issues such as modern slavery to ensure we are doing the right thing for our clients in line with all the appropriate legal and policy positions.
A shaken kaleidoscope
The post-pandemic world will be very different to what has gone before. That much is clear already. But as the page turns, it is incumbent on all of us to help channel the latest advances in technology in ways that will strengthen and safeguard society, create opportunities anew and generate prosperity for all.
At BAE Systems Applied Intelligence we’re excited to play our part in turning this vision into reality.
About the author
Julian Cracknell is the Managing Director at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
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