3 minute read     |    Cybesecurity

OnPoint Perspectives: Climate & Cybersecurity

At first glance, climate change and cybersecurity may seem like two separate issues, but they are deeply intertwined. As the impacts of climate change continue to ramp up and are felt across the world, the risks to cybersecurity are increasing as well.

In this edition of OnPoint’s Perspectives blog, we will explore the relationship between climate change and cybersecurity, along with what steps can be taken to mitigate this risk and build organizational resiliency.

This aims to build upon the recent conversation between Tabish Akbar, Strategic Partnership Coordinator at OnPoint Consulting, and Pete Tseronis, Founder & CEO of Dots and Bridges, where they broke down takeaways from the recent ACT-IAC Climate Change Summit. Their discussion presses the importance of taking this effort seriously and that the government is making investments to the tune of $2 trillion in new federal spending over the next decade on climate issues.

Climate Change’s Cyber Implications

There are numerous ways climate change can affect cybersecurity. Here are a few examples:

Natural Disasters:

An increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires can be attributed to climate change. These events often damage our nation’s critical infrastructure, including communications networks, power grids, and transportation systems. This damage can leave these systems more vulnerable to cyber-attacks from bad actors.

Resource Scarcity:

As a changing climate results in changing weather patterns and water availability globally, competition for critical resources such as food, water, and energy is likely to increase.  This can create social unrest and lead to an increase in sophisticated cyber-attacks, including theft of intellectual property, ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure, and other forms of cybercrime. 

Increased Connectivity:

Our move to a more connected world through the Internet of Things (IoT) can bolster our climate-change mitigation and adaption efforts, however, this directly correlates with an increase in the risk of a cyber-attack. As more devices are connected to the internet and with each other enables more potential entry points for cybercriminals.

Mitigating Risk

To mitigate the risks associated with climate change and cybersecurity, it is critical to take a proactive approach. To that end, here are some steps that can be taken:

Invest in Cybersecurity:

While it sounds like a no-brainer, companies, and organizations must invest in robust cybersecurity measures to ensure they are not crippled when they face a cyber attack. The release of the White House’s National Cybersecurity Strategy underlining that it is all hands on deck going forward.  Measures companies should investigate as a starting point for cyber investment includes firewalls, encryption, zero trust architecture, and employee training programs. Additionally, regular updates and vulnerability assessments can help to identify and remedy potential weaknesses, building organizational resiliency.

Be Prepared for Natural Disasters:

A disaster recovery plan in the event of natural disasters or other disruptions to critical infrastructure is something all businesses and organizations should have in place. As it is not a question of if something is going to happen but a matter of when something will happen. To that end, the plan should include provisions for cybersecurity, such as backups and data recovery processes.

Promote Sustainability:

By promoting sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, groups can help to mitigate the impacts of climate change as it is a collective problem that requires a collective solution. Measures companies should take include the introduction of energy efficiency measures, reducing waste, and promoting the use of renewable energy sources.

Closing Thoughts

Climate change and cybersecurity are two areas that are only going to increase in importance as we move further into the future. The Biden Administration’s recognition of climate change as a national security crisis is a striking indicator of its importance and the whole of government approach required to ensure we remain to stay ahead of the climate curve.

As it is not a technological problem, it is an environmental problem, but technology can allow us to have a more sustainable future.  To learn more about OnPoint and our commitment to collaboration for solving the problems of the present and future, please visit our website.