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Beyond Cybersecurity Awareness Month – a need for year-round vigilance

The Bell team assesses how to best apply its cybersecurity expertise with the aim of protecting this business

Bell's CISO Marc Duchesne answers five key cybersecurity questions.

Marc Duchesne Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)October’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month may be over, but that does not mean that the conversation has to end. Malware, ransomware and other threats are always out there, so cybersecurity needs to be an ongoing concern for organizations. Looking at the year ahead, what should be the focus for Canadian companies? Beverly Wilks, Bell’s Senior Product Marketing Manager on the Security team, connected with Marc Duchesne Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), to gain his thoughts on the top cybersecurity considerations that organizations across the country should keep top of mind.

BW: What are some of the most pressing security challenges facing Canadian organizations?
Inventory management and understanding your assets is becoming significantly more challenging. Technology is evolving so quickly and new apps are coming out all the time, so most organizations today are maintaining a complex infrastructure of new and legacy equipment, located both on-premises and in the cloud. Without a clear understanding of what you have deployed and what you are operating, effectively managing and monitoring your vulnerabilities is impossible. 

 At the same time, data privacy and security will continue to be a big issue. With the controversies surrounding apps such as TikTok and ChatGPT, governments will be introducing more regulations and legislation to help protect people’s data. As technology evolves, companies will have to follow much more stringent requirements to comply with those regulations, which could be difficult for those without highly mature security practices.1

BW: What do organizations need to start doing and stop doing when it comes to cybersecurity?
 For decades, the focus was on securing the perimeter of an organization, deploying measures such as firewalls to build a protective fence that will keep threats out. Due to the increasing complexity of IT environments, the rise of remote work, and increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, this approach is no longer sufficient. Instead of trying to build a fence around your entire property, you should start focusing on protecting specific data and assets – the “crown jewels” that are most critical to your business.  

Organizations today must operate under the assumption that a breach is inevitable. Their emphasis should shift to being cyber-resilient, ensuring that the right systems are in place to recover quickly from a breach. In today’s age, your organization will not be judged for getting breached, but for failing to respond in an adequate way. 

One thing that organizations should stop doing is multiplying their infrastructure because it only increases their attack surface and their overall risk. Complexity is the enemy of security. Try to reduce the number of apps, the number of connection points to the internet, and anything else you can consolidate. This is particularly relevant during mergers and acquisitions when companies suddenly inherit additional technology stacks that need to be managed and secured, making simplification a must.

BW: How is artificial intelligence (AI) affecting cybersecurity?
AI’s impact on security is significant. From a threat perspective, AI may create vulnerabilities faster than most organizations can deal with them. That doesn’t mean organizations should prevent innovative technologies like generative AI from being used, but there should be guardrails, policies and controls in place. You also have to assume that threat actors now have AI in their arsenals, which means that your traditional, manual approaches to cybersecurity won’t work. Ironically, generative AI and large language models will play a critical role in enhancing your detection and monitoring capabilities so that you can better respond to AI-driven cyber threats.

BW: What are the most important security tools companies should implement to optimize their security posture?
Over the past year or two, ransomware has become the number one threat for most organizations. An endpoint detection and response (EDR) tool is one of the best defences against that. Even if you don't have a best-in-class security team, an effective EDR tool can make a significant difference. Deploy an EDR agent on your servers and workstations. Should an attack occur, the EDR tool will provide real-time visibility into what’s happening and allow you to respond locally and swiftly.

However,  it’s not just your own endpoints you need to worry about. You also have to look at your cloud services – because the more clouds you use, the greater your risk of being exposed to cyber threats. A cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP) can give you the insights needed to tackle configuration issues, compliance risks and security gaps that could jeopardize your cloud workloads. You can also opt for a fully managed CNAPP service, where experts handle the ongoing monitoring of your clouds to ensure maximum security.

BW: It is estimated that there’s a need for more than 3.4 million cybersecurity professionals around the world. How can organizations address their own skills gap?
The cybersecurity talent shortage is a concern that affects everyone, even Bell. The following steps can help organizations address it:

  • Showcase your attractive workplace culture, career growth opportunities and commitment to professional development.
  • Put in place sponsorship and grant programs to support skill development in relevant fields.
  • Provide reskilling programs to leverage the talent you already have.
  • Access the skills you need through a trusted partner.

Facing the same challenges, Bell takes a multi-pronged approach to finding the talent we need to support our ongoing operations and best serve our customers. For example, we partner with the University of New Brunswick to help students financially during their studies, and then offer them a career path at Bell. We also offer reskilling programs, such as BellU and the AWS Training Club, to support team members who are interested in evolving their careers. These programs, in turn, help us support organizations across Canada on their digital transformation journeys. 

BW: What are your cybersecurity predictions for 2024?
Navigating the evolving cybersecurity landscape will only continue to get more complex due to the acceleration of AI. Plus, with ongoing geopolitical uncertainty, supply chain security is likely to be a big concern. Continuous vigilance, a proactive stance, and strong cybersecurity programs will be critical for safeguarding our digital landscape — every day of the year. 

To learn more about how Bell can help you protect your business visit

1. CNBC, With ChatGPT hype swirling, UK government urges regulators to come up with rules for A.I., Mar 2023