2020 11 11  By Shannon Kroger, Synapsys Inside Sales Professional

Think about when you tell someone to “stay safe”. You probably mean drive safely, lock your front door, and, in 2020, wear a mask. But this year’s Acronis Global Summit made me realise that the meaning of safety has been dramatically extended to cover both our physical and digital lives. So now, “stay safe” also means set a strong password, keep your antivirus software up-to-date and don’t click on strange links in emails.

Digital safety as important as physical safety

This is hardly surprising, given how much a part of our lives digital is. The recent years have made it clear that there is so much we can’t do without IT, even if sometimes we lose sight of how much technology has infiltrated our lives. We rely on technology for not only business, but all aspects of life: from keeping in touch with family members abroad (and locally, during lockdown) to doing personal finances and storing important documents. Smart gadgets are coming into our homes, transforming our lives. Smart fridges, smart microwaves, smart kettles to name a few. And even coffee machines are at risk of cyber threats!

My first Acronis summit

Just to drive home how much the world has changed, my first Acronis summit happened in my office, with me sitting behind my desk with a cup of coffee in hand, rather than in sunny Miami with the chance to meet people from all over the world. On the other hand, many more people attended this inaugural virtual summit than had attended previous in person events.

It was clear during the summit that Acronis certainly recognises that we need to change how we think about cybersecurity, and it has a plan in place to make this happen. Today, backup alone is not enough. Traditional data protection, or backup, needs to be combined with classic cybersecurity to create a whole new way of thinking and approach to staying safe online: cyber protection. Acronis’s technical solution to this changing online landscape is Acronis Cyber Protect, which integrates cyber security with the traditional backup capabilities.

New threats mean new education needed

Of course a new way of thinking about cyber protection needs a new way of teaching, and the summit highlighted the need to change the way we carry out cyber protection education. The changes in technology are ongoing, dynamic, and complex. Unfortunately education has not kept pace with these changes. As a response to this, the Schaffhausen Institute for Technology (SIT), where Acronis’ CEO and founder, Serguei “SB” Beloussov, serves on the board of directors, offers cyber protection courses for individuals and companies. These courses provide knowledge that is critical to stay safe in our current environment.

There is no doubt that everyone needs to up their cyber protection education levels. From learners and students who have had to switch to remote learning, to everyone in the workplace whether they are working remotely or not, to management who needs to understand the risks of security in the organisation, and to implement a procedure that one needs to follow in the event of a security breach. It is not enough to just provide training for applications without providing education about the consequences that come with using that technology. Education is key in protecting organisations and individuals from cybercriminals.

And 2021?

After the year we’ve had, I’m not making any predictions about where and how I’ll be participating in next year’s Acronis Global Summit. One thing is for sure that change is the only constant in digital technology. But there are plenty of things you can do, today, to identify new risks, protect yourself, alleviate anxiety about the pace of change and stay safe in the online world.

A good place to start is by watching the recordings of our top five sessions from the summit. These are available on-demand until 20 December 2020.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 11 November 2020