As we celebrate Earth Day 2022, companies around the world, including IBM, are continuing broad investment in efforts to combat climate change and strive to bring new ideas to the world in support of sustainability and to make the world a better place for future generations.

While the connection between cybersecurity and the environment is not clear to many, cybersecurity experts and even the World Economic Forum clearly see cybersecurity as an environmental, social and governance (ESG) issue.

There are several key ways business leaders can look to investment in effective cybersecurity strategies and tools to reinforce their ESG efforts.

Securely Support a New Remote Work Model to Lessen Environmental Impacts of Everyday Work

In less than a year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shutdown and reduction in normal business operations — as well as a shift toward remote work and reduction in carbon emissions as people reduced travel and widely stopped commuting — created dramatic healing and improvement to the environment and was recorded around the world. Air and water quality improved dramatically in a short time. The global carbon footprint was reduced significantly.

While the pandemic had serious and disastrous negative effects globally, to ensure that those measurable positive impacts continue as we recover and return to many of the day-to-day activities and practices from before the pandemic, we have to evolve the way we work and do business and embrace the new modern workplace.

Even now, technologies and services that support a zero trust approach to cybersecurity continue to enable companies of all sizes to secure data, verify identity and access and continue to securely work from anywhere. They also make it possible to develop new ways of meeting, interacting and conducting business that has a powerful impact on fighting climate change.

Secure New Devices and Controls to Accelerate Innovation and Make it Easier to Lower Impacts on the Environment

The pandemic accelerated the modernization of our critical infrastructure, manufacturing and supply chain. This is allowing for less waste, more efficiency and better, new ways of generating clean energy, producing food, manufacturing goods, and transporting supplies, components and deliveries to customers.

All of these advancements require connectivity, speed and effective management. New technology solutions create an incredible amount of data as they replace older industrial control systems with connected operational technology. To safely deploy these advancements, the security of those devices, data and applications is critical to avoid accidents and disruption, and to make these new investments attractive to every industry as they develop ecologically responsible ways to do business.

IT professionals and decision-makers should seek out organizations that can help them reduce risk and secure new enhancements — invest in security solutions that can help. For example, as an enhancement to existing X-Force Threat Management solutions for IoT and OT, IBM X-Force recently announced X-Force IR for OT to help eliminate vulnerabilities that may be introduced by connected devices and help respond to criminal exploitation of those technologies, as well as security incidents that impact critical infrastructure.

Modernize Cybersecurity Strategies and Investments to Reduce Risk of Security Incidents and Disruptions

Leading cybersecurity providers have expertise that delivers strategy and risk consulting to help companies develop modern security policies and practices so they can focus on innovation and advancement in business practices that protect the environment and our planet, while keeping up with new regulations.

Managed security services providers and threat management services solutions also provide advanced managed detection and response services and advanced threat disposition services using AI and automation to speed response times and prioritize people, resources and action for enterprises. Because these services can be delivered from centralized global security operations centers and can serve many clients from one location, this eliminates the need for thousands of companies to build and maintain their own SOCs and lowers their ecological impact. At IBM Security, AI leveraging data from 100B security events the team monitors every day helps companies focus on critical issues and disruptive threats rather than false alarms. This can make cybersecurity investments more attractive and lowers barriers to adoption like skills gap challenges and infrastructure costs.

Make Changes Now to Protect the Future of Our Planet

As governments and companies create plans and strategies to combat climate change, many in the scientific community have pointed out that the current drivers of climate risk are caused by incomplete or insufficient policies and practices in land-use planning, governance, urbanization, natural resource management, ecosystem management, and increasing poverty levels. These risks are only increasing instead of diminishing as human populations grow.

Cybersecurity events and failure to invest in sustainability and climate concerns can have similar corporate, global and regional impacts on our success in this fight. Both of these critical issues should be top strategic initiatives for all organizations on Earth Day in 2022 — and beyond.

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