data-protection-verizon-articleLast week, Verizon announced that one of its vendors had accidentally revealed the personal information of 6-million customers. The fact that a vendor made the mistake doesn’t get Verizon off the hook. In response to the incident, I wrote that large firms need to develop and deploy cybersecurity strategies for their entire supply chains. 

Now, I’m taking it a step further. Unquestionably, supply chain cybersecurity is critical. But we need to think bigger. We need strategies that can provide effective cybersecurity for global technology ecosystems, not just supply chains.

The Verizon leak was embarrassing, but not fatal. Imagine if the compromised information had included medical records, financial data, or strategic military secrets. Then the leak might have been more than just embarrassing – it might have been truly dangerous.

I thought about the Verizon breach when reading about the new partnership between Apple and PayPal. Under the agreement, PayPal can be used to pay for Apple services such as iTunes and the App Store. The deal would have a huge impact for PayPal, which could see substantial gains in revenues as its services become more tightly integrated across the Apple ecosystem.

There’s no question that both Apple and PayPal take security very seriously. But which company will be responsible for making sure that sensitive financial and personal information remains confidential as it flows across the newly expanded ecosystem?

It’s precisely those kinds of questions that should be keeping us awake at night. As technology leaders, we will ultimately be held accountable for what happens in the increasingly complex technology ecosystems that we create.

It seems fairly obvious that some industries take their cybersecurity responsibilities more seriously than others. From my perspective, the real question is why don’t we have a standard approach to cybersecurity that can be used by all companies in all industries? 

We need to start getting serious about cybersecurity today, not tomorrow. The longer we wait, the more the danger grows. Let’s deal with the problem before there’s a catastrophe.