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Cybersecurity Culture for the relaunch of Italian Manufacturing

The economic repercussions of the pandemic will have to lead to strategic considerations regarding the development model imposed by globalization.

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Last March, Tullio Pirovano, CEO of Lutech Group, gave an interview which was recently published in the essay “Intelligence Economica” by Prof. Ivan Rizzi and Italian Senator Giacomo Stucchi for the IASSP series.

The essay poses the question of whether, particularly in the sudden and unexpected context of the pandemic, the recovery of SMEs will involve a culture of business intelligence, cybersecurity and a strategic vision based on interpreting information, and, guided by the areas which already have an international presence, will focus on protecting Italian production and manufacturing.

The creation of this “Intelligence Community”, which collects testimony from Italian exponents of technological and scientific innovation, goes in this direction.

Building a Culture of Security

“The worldwide spread of Covid-19 has highlighted the enormous weaknesses of an economic system based on the global circulation of goods, people and capital, with very strong interdependencies, without having thoroughly reflected on the potential consequences, and even more seriously, without having put adequate recovery plans into place.

This was the most serious error which led to the well-known consequences of a global lockdown. We now find ourselves having to deal with the extreme vulnerability of the global supply and distribution chains without adequate preparation.

The economic repercussions of the pandemic will inevitably have to lead to strategic considerations regarding the development model imposed by globalization.

At this point in time, Italy is undergoing a particular serious economic shock given that the most productive regions of the country have been brought to their knees. We are one of the countries with the most infections, but it is not unrealistic to think that soon all countries will be hit by this same emergency. In Europe, Italy was the first to experience the devastating impact of this virus on its entire society, from healthcare to education and the entire logistics chain, and it is thus likely to become a laboratory in which to experiment with new models of recovery.

The Italian business fabric was not ready to deal with this emergency and the consequent shift of many activities to remote methods, through the mass adoption of technological platforms to allow for smart-workingSolutions which would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago have been implemented quickly, with the biggest issues being the urgency and the need for retroactive training of people with a low level of technological expertise.

We have found ourselves faced with an issue of mentality, insufficient corporate and personal levels of digital culture, and more generally an insufficient level of education of society in general. The unexpected nature of this event has been a rude awakening for all, like a bucket of ice water over the head.

The aspect of security is often neglected in this context. The lack of focus and a dedicated cybersecurity budget, combined with the sudden spread of smart working platforms, has exponentially increased the risk of computer attacks, making the need to protect the data which often moves around outside the company perimeter even more pressing.

This last-minute digitization has, in a certain sense, further exposed companies which were previously considered secure because they were digital laggards. Today it is clearer than ever that cybersecurity is a decisive development factor within the digitization process which implies the need to secure software, systems, data, and above all devices and connected equipment, in addition to integrated data analysis and management services.

It is a sector which requires long-term investments in order to be able to guarantee effective protection over time and to deal with continuously evolving threats, with ever-more sophisticated techniques and ever-greater speed. In this emergency, those companies who had already begun a real and structural process of digital change have had a real head start.

It is clear that cybersecurity is not only linked to network security, but also involves many other disciplines. The credibility and reliability of a government body, an organization or a company depends on cybersecurity.

IT security must be tackled in the widest possible sense of the word, not just confined to within the company perimeter. The IOT (Internet Of Things) has extended connectivity to a whole series of objects, not just day-to-day appliances and devices, but also control gear for complex and critical equipment, all connected to the Internet, which must guarantee the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data.

In order to effectively manage matters relating to IT security, it will be necessary to adopt a holistic, systemic and dynamic approach. Machine-learning techniques, for example, now allow us to handle huge quantities of data from different sources in order to extract knowledge and to operate in an ever-more preventive manner. Data are genuine corporate “assets”. There are now huge interests behind data, and it is essential for them to be adequately protected and managed.

It therefore becomes even more relevant to take on cybersecurity training from a more widespread point of view, not only as technical preparation for specialists, but as an actual evolution of the concept of security into a culture of security and greater awareness of current risks.

In order to create a virtuous circle which is able to facilitate the adoption of digitization technologies and the creation of a real culture of security, guidelines with specific interventions are required, suitably supported by government plans, for example acting on the lever of tax relief aimed at targeted training initiatives.

It is essential to effectively target these initiatives at SMEs, which in a context of global and interconnected supply chains, represent the weakest link.

The active involvement of the academic world will be required in order to provide young people with the possibility to obtain valid and specific training, with certain professional and entrepreneurial outlets in a context where there will be a high level of demand in coming years, and not just in Italy.

The situation we are currently living through has caught us completely unawares. Nothing like this had ever happened before in such a global and interconnected world. Even the biggest national and international organizations have shown themselves incapable of preventing this pandemic, and we don’t know to what extent the national and supranational institutions will be able to take on the present and future which awaits us, with their social, economic and political consequences.

We will all come out of this experience changed, both as regards working processes and as regards the personal and interpersonal sphere. Italian manufacturing will go through a difficult period at all levels, but we have a cultural background which can be an extraordinary and unique force.

We are lucky enough to live in a country with enormous intrinsic wealth; I just hope that once we have come out the other side of this emergency that we can look at the beauty and values that we possess with greater interest and positivity in order to defend them and exploit them to the greatest extent possible. We all have to take advantage of this pause to reawaken our self-awareness and to be more determined in supporting, exploiting and promoting our nation’s strategic assets.”

Tullio Pirovano, CEO, Lutech Group

From Intelligence economica. La nuova guerra commerciale, edited by I. Rizzi, G. Stucchi, Milan, IASSP series, Rubbettino, 2020