Cyber Security’s Impact on Climate Change: What Can Organisations Do?

Last year, the World Economic Forum listed cyber crime alongside climate change as two of the biggest threats society faces in the next decade.

Although they might appear to be distinct problems, there are ways that they influence one another. Most obviously, cyber crime by its nature involves the use of computers, which consume energy.

This is no small matter. IT Governance found more than 1,200 publicly disclosed security incidents in 2021, which correlates to society’s increasingly reliance on computers and the expanding influence that criminal hackers have.

Their techniques are becoming more sophisticated, meaning organisations need to respond in kind – creating a technological arms race resulting in more computers, more powerful systems and a higher energy consumption.

Perhaps the most significant example of this is the Cloud. According to a report by the software firm Flexera, 92% of organisations use more than one, with the average respondent using 2.6 public Clouds and 2.7 private ones.

Millions of people rely on the Cloud to access information and services, with facilities filled with high-powered CPUs, terabytes of RAM and petabytes of storage. It’s therefore no surprise that Cloud storage centres account for 1% of the world’s electricity use.

Then there’s blockchain mining. The process describes the way people create bitcoins, requiring computers to solve complex computational maths problems.

In the early days of bitcoin mining, individuals could create new bitcoins using a standard computer set-up, but the process has grown so complex that it now requires a room full of specialised tools.

Many people argue that the environmental cost of this is a necessary evil. The blockchain has been touted as a panacea for all sorts of cyber security risks, yet the technology is perhaps most famous in cyber security circles for the way bitcoin has helped cyber criminals launder their ill-gotten gains.

Regardless of whether the cyber security benefits of blockchain mining outweigh the risks it creates, the biggest issue is how catastrophically bad for the environment it is.

The New York Times reports that the process of creating Bitcoin consumes about 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually – about that of a small country.

ISO 50001 and smarter energy use

Whatever your opinion is on the benefits of blockchain mining, the Cloud or other technologies we’ve referenced, one thing that all of can agree on is that organisations should be more vigilant about their energy use.

One factor that influences this is the climate crisis. The more energy we use – particularly if it’s not coming from a sustainable source – the worse it is for the environment.

But another, more pragmatic issue, is the economic costs of energy waste. The UK faces record energy bills, with organisations and individuals being urged to cut their electricity and fuel use to reduce their costs.

Of course, organisations can’t be expected to cut processes that are essential for their day-to-day operations. They instead need to find a middle ground between responsible energy use and productivity.

This is where ISO 50001 can help. It’s the international standard for energy management, providing a framework for organisations of all sizes to reduce their energy use and associated costs.

Organisations can use ISO 50001 to gain a better understanding of the way they use energy and to achieve more effective leadership focus on energy policies. The Standard helps organisations:

  • Reduce their energy usage;
  • Save money by managing energy more efficiently;
  • Reduce their carbon footprint;
  • Increase energy security; and
  • Demonstrate a commitment to improved energy performance.

Get started with ISO 50001

You can find out more about the Standard with IT Governance’s ISO 50001 Toolkit.

With more than 40 customisable templates, documents, work instructions and records, this toolkit contains everything you need to boost your organisation’s energy management system.

You’ll also receive full coverage of the Standard with a range of compliance tools, including the Gap Analysis tool, Document Management Tool, Responsibilities Map and Energy Review Plan.

The package has been developed by experience management system consultants, so you can be sure that you’re on the right track.

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