Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
How much cybersecurity does a person actually need?
Well, it depends on who you ask. Cyberattack damage will rise to $10.5 trillion by 2025, and security advocates say you can never be too careful when fortifying your data and devices. Of course, cybersecurity on both home and office devices is essential to navigating any digital space, and it’s vital to keep one’s information and sensitive data protected. But in day-to-day life, trying to keep your devices secured can quickly get convoluted.
That’s partially because of the disparate state of the cybersecurity industry. Users are spoiled with protection options from multi-factor authentication (MFA) to VPNs, password managers and good old antivirus programs. But the issue doesn’t come from the selection available. Rather, it’s that most of these cybersecurity tools are not in conversation with each other.
Yes, having your cybersecurity products connected can put them at risk to some extent should one of them become compromised. However, when an individual exclusively uses a password manager, a Google-generated “difficult” password, or MFA on one single account, are they really any safer?
Related: Amazon Ring Is the Latest Target of Notorious Ransomware Gang
Likewise, if a cybersecurity feature a consumer uses gets compromised or hacked, it could discourage them from exploring other security products while they cope with being burned by a clever hacker. Of the millions of accounts exposed in the LastPass breach, many of the consumers using the program probably assumed they were properly fortifying their devices and sensitive information.
Although it’s likely not the best idea to merge every cybersecurity measure under one umbrella, entrepreneurs should see the value in trying to connect the industry’s loose threads.
Making cybersecurity more seamless could end up keeping more people safe in the long run. Building bridges to improve user experience and creating solutions that cover multiple bases also spreads out the long-term viability of a cybersecurity company by expanding its security reach.
If an entire security company’s business rests on the stability and success of one product, it will undoubtedly lose revenue and consumer trust should that one product get breached. And they would need plenty of luck to build up that goodwill without the PR artillery that Big Tech companies have.
Another factor to consider in helping unify cybersecurity lies in its cost. While many programs operate through donations or are free to use in exchange for user data, most serious cybersecurity products come with a price tag.
Around 61% of users in the U.S. rely on free antivirus software, according to an annual report from Security.org. No surprise there, but the same report states roughly 33 million households pay for some type of security software, albeit with no distinction as to how that is spread across VPNs, secure browsers, and other features. This indicates users are willing to pay for personal protection, but only for certain kinds of products.
Likewise, while an individual might pay for an antivirus program or a VPN, it can be hard to convince users to pay for multiple security products unless the individual is a business owner or regularly deals with highly sensitive information.
Related: A Successful Cybersecurity Company Isn’t About Fancy Technology
Outside of home-bound device security, mobile devices have also pushed privacy and security issues to the forefront of tech conversations as they reach near-universal use. Consumers, in general, have become much wearier about their data privacy and how to secure smartphones from malware and attacks, given how much personal information these devices now hold.
But most people don’t read the permissions they allow apps and programs to access on devices, and many don’t go the extra mile to secure their phones outside of the built-in safeguards developed by Apple or Android. As more users search for ways to “declutter” their mobile experience, this shows another clear gap in cybersecurity interoperability.
Companies such as privacy-preserving mobile developer Unplugged are already banking on the need for cybersecurity convergence, offering a multi-pronged app suite to boost mobile and desktop privacy and security. The project operates through a subscription-based model, which creates a new pathway to access high-level security products without having to pay exorbitant fees for each new program.
Despite the siloing of cybersecurity, changes are clearly on the horizon from both a developer and regulatory level. In March 2023 alone, the U.S. government unveiled a beefed-up National Cybersecurity Strategy to set new regulatory standards and corporate responsibilities surrounding cybersecurity. The extensively-updated strategy outlines key pillars, including support for critical infrastructure, addressing the cybersecurity skills gap, setting regulatory baselines and fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors.
Although we have yet to see how these new frameworks will affect consumer-level cybersecurity, the U.S. government, echoing collaboration and connection, shows its necessity in building a resilient cybersecurity future.
Security should be a tenet of any tech product, given how sophisticated attacks can get. As more facets of our daily lives move to the digital realm, there is an imperative to improve security processes before it turns catastrophic. Entrepreneurs should be considering projects in this sector that are working to build common ground and security seamlessness to cut through the general malaise that users might have around protecting their devices.