ESET experts offer their reflections on what the continued blurring of boundaries between different spheres of life means for our human and social experience – and especially our cybersecurity and privacy
The future isn’t what it used to be. This adage, if a little trite, has taken on a whole new meaning after our lives turned on a dime with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. And as the world was bouncing back from the depths of the public health emergency, Russia’s war on Ukraine inflicted unfathomable loss and misery and sent ripple effects throughout the rest of the world, adding to the sense of the permacrisis of recent years.
Against this backdrop, we’re closing the book on another year like no other – all while being even more hooked on all things digital than ever before. Going about our days without tech is practically unthinkable, and this applies to various aspects of our digitally-driven lives, notably work, education, health, leisure, and social interactions. After throwing a lifeline to companies and people in 2020, technology continues to cement itself as a linchpin of today’s society and the foundation for human progress and our future.
It’s a common refrain that many organizations have seen a growth spurt after embracing digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic and ditching the old ways of running business. But many people, too, have broken with the past and can’t reconnect with their old selves – not that they are inclined to, anyway. Notably, our perceptions of the office and its purpose – and even the role of work as such in our lives – have perhaps been the main “collateral damage” of the professional and personal upheaval of recent years.
Many employees have come to favor a flexible workplace arrangement that accommodates a far-flung workforce. Location often doesn’t matter anymore – it’s what you get done that matters. And as the work setup becomes increasingly fluid, a “brave new hybrid world” takes shape. It’s a world where not only the workplace, but also our lifestyle trends and choices are shifting. And with it, the lines between our professional and personal identities, and between work and play, are also increasingly fluid and fuzzy.
Every cloud has a silver lining
The bridging of home and the office wouldn’t have been possible without cloud computing and its unique elasticity and scalability. For many, the cloud is best “embodied” in a range of collaboration, videoconferencing, productivity and networking platforms du jour – think Microsoft Teams, Slack or Zoom. “You’re on mute” and “Can you see my screen?” surely ring a bell.
Of course, cloud-powered solutions – long known for enabling organizations to do more, faster and at lower cost – aren’t losing momentum. Ultimately, the cloud helps pave the way for growth, innovation, and developments that are emerging or are yet to be imagined. Technology and innovation are, by their very nature, there to be harnessed to address society’s wants and needs and in so doing, help shape us as individuals and lead to societal changes. So far, so excellent.
However, the benefits of technology such as cloud computing can’t be fully reaped without also getting a handle on its challenges. One area where the challenges can be complex is data security and privacy. Protecting reams of data from harm and keeping people connected and safe – all while giving them enough flexibility in this cloud-first, hybrid-everything world – can be a challenge. Not least because cybercriminals will, as is their wont, continue to target such high-value targets for their own benefit.
As another old adage says, “it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future”. But it’s safe to say that we’ll continue to navigate an increasingly hybrid world, one that may ultimately require some of us to take a long hard look in the mirror and confront the blurring divides between the personal and the professional and the physical and the digital. But in what shape and form exactly?
We invite you to read the collective reflections of ESET experts about these and other changes in our behavior online and what kinds of implications these shifts may have for our lives – and our security and privacy – going forward.