The Martial Art of Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is usually positioned as a defensive endeavour: one in which consistency, precision and trust are critical. As Trend Micro has argued, it is also something that can be elevated into an art form, when done right. The similarities with karate – a martial art I’ve been practicing for 14 years now – are striking.
Consistency, trust, and precision
Like cybersecurity, karate is an art of defence, and of discipline, that grows in complexity the more you learn about it. It is also largely outcomes based. As a master of martial arts, one’s aim is to block the attack, perfect the execution and gain knowledge and skills over time. Essentially, the correct approach to the process of the art yields positive outcomes. That’s not a million miles from a typical role in cybersecurity, where good outcomes depend entirely on a commitment to perfecting the process. Practitioners on both sides must therefore hone their ability by focusing on three core areas:
Consistency: In martial arts, consistency builds fitness and helps attain mastery of technique. In security too, consistency is key for allowing organisations to build the fitness, strength, and agility to defend against increasingly powerful and complex cyberattacks. Essentially, defenders need only make one mistake to let an adversary gain a potentially winning advantage that could make getting back up again or recovering very difficult.
Precision: However, it is not enough to practice karate with consistency alone. Instead, movements must be observed with a fine attention to detail and power must come not from brute force but precision of technique. The same is also true of good cybersecurity; details must be followed to the letter and controls precisely applied. Indeed, human error was responsible for 13% of breaches in 2022, according to Verizon. Essentially, a simple lack of precision could cost you a lot of time, and a lot of money.
Trust: Contrary to popular belief, karate is not a sport for loners! In fact, the combination of movements known as kata are often practiced in pairs or as a team – where communication is vital and absolute trust essential. Security teams similarly thrive on trust and close collaboration to ensure that their organisations are properly protected and running efficiently.