Vodafone's Andrzej Kawalec on Ransomware
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Speaker Spotlight

Vodafone's Andrzej Kawalec on Ransomware

Fabian Süß
Published on Oct 28, 2021

Andrzej Kawalec, Head of Cybersecurity at Vodafone Business, will give a presentation entitled Ransomware: What Happens When the Tech Stops? on Thursday November 11 from 09:30 pm to 09:50 am at Cybersecurity Leadership Summit 2021.

To give you a sneak preview of what to expect, we asked Andrzej some questions about his presentation.

Could you give us a sneak peek into your Keynote: “Ransomware: What Happens When the Tech Stops?”

I'm really excited to be able to share with you a discussion about genuinely how we have become critically dependent on technology and in our day to day lives and our professional lives, when and how cybercriminals are able to turn off our technology and disrupt our lives. I think it's a key issue for us all to think about. In the talk, we'll talk a little bit about how not just ransomware, but cybercrime has evolved to become genuinely one of the greatest challenges and threats I think society faces. We'll also talk a little bit about the risk that we face, who are our targets? Are we all targets? And then what we can do not if but when we experience digital disruption. I find it one of the most fascinating subjects to think about, and I really look forward to sharing that with you.

How was it possible that Ransomware evolved into Ransomware as a service (RaaS), a fully functional business with a highly developed criminal ecosystem?

What one of the most fascinating aspects of how ransomware is involved is actually how the criminal world has evolved. If we think about the poster children for digital disruption, Uber, Netflix and the like. For me, the most significant digital disruptive industry is the cybercrime industry. Cybercrime has overtaken the global illegal drugs trade, and it is an industry that is characterized by brutal innovation.

It's an ecosystem, globally connected, using cloud based and SaaS technologies to prosecute operations in any country against any person in the world, built upon anonymity and an anonymous and untraceable currency. I don't think it's a surprise at that point that we are facing a pandemic of ransomware using some of the most understood and groundbreaking technologies. So, ransomware as a service is just an example of how that global cybercrime industry has been able to out innovate the digital adoption and normal industry.

How can employees be both your weakest link and first line of defense?

One of the things that we often do in technology and in business is we think about the process and the systems and the technologies, but actually at the heart of all the value that's created are people. Digital value is only created when you when a person can access data and those two things come together. Cyber criminals understand that and target the individual, the user, the employee. What we often do as a security industry is think about ways to protect or help that user. What we actually need to do is think of them not as a weak link, but actually as a first line of defense.

And increasingly, if I think about in a mid and post-pandemic world where individuals and users are being, you know, are really being pushed to their homes to hybrid working models, they are at the frontline of security, not just for themselves, but their families and their employers and the people they collaborate and partner with. So, employees, people, individuals are absolutely our first line of defense and our best hope when it comes to thinking and dealing with these threats, not just dealing with them, but also recovering from them. Now security is both a boardroom issue now, but also a spare room issue as we all work from its bearings and in places all around the world. A key focus and a key area that we will talk about is how you focus on the individual, the user, the person who creates the value.

Should you pay ransom?

One of the biggest questions anybody can face. Should you pay ransom? The FBI say no. Europol say no. By paying ransom, you perpetuate the cybercriminal industry and you finance illegal activity. It's not that black and white. It really isn't that black and white. For me, the failure is that the vast majority of organizations that do pay a ransom, I think only 6% get all their data back. They don't reduce their disruption significantly.

But the difficult choice that an organization or an individual has to make, is exactly that, it's a very difficult choice, and I think people will choose to pay a ransom, even though it feels uncomfortable and morally or legally difficult because they don't feel they have another choice. Everything we should do is to give individuals and organizations the ability to make a choice about whether to pay ransom or not. But I completely agree with the FBI and Europol and most organizations that say, you shouldn't pay ransom, you will not get all your data back and you are funding an illegal enterprise and industry.

Subscribe for updates
Please provide your email address