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How to align cyber security to your digital transformation strategy

Tue 2 Feb 2021 | Chester Avey

Ensure your company’s digital transformation and security strategy go hand in hand

The COVID-19 crisis has not had many positives from a business perspective, but perhaps one is that it has forced companies to completely evaluate and re-think the ways they operate. A great example is the number of people now working from home – before the outbreak, in the UK only around 30 percent of the working population had ever worked remotely.

Businesses scrambled in order to be able to support their staff working remotely, which required them to think about the solutions they use and the improvements that they needed to make. This saw a rise in the popularity of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud platforms – you only need to look at the success of the video conferencing tool Zoom, which increased its user numbers from 10 million to 200 million over the course of three months.

Remote working is a trend that is likely to stay – but this is only one aspect of the potential digital transformation that businesses may need to go through.

What is digital transformation and what are its benefits?

Digital transformation is a phrase that is sometimes misunderstood – even businesses that are being proactive are confused about what it entails and how it can be a benefit to the company. Ultimately, the concept is fairly simple: as the world becomes increasingly digitised, businesses must change with the times in order to survive and thrive.

Digital transformation can take many different forms, and businesses can achieve their transformation in a number of different ways. It might involve changing the products or services that you provide to customers, or it could purely be inward and require the digitisation of company processes and systems.

The process of transformation comes with many benefits – in fact, in some cases, it can be as dramatic as the difference between your success and failure.

A great example is Blockbuster – once the dominant player in the video rental market, Blockbuster had the opportunity to invest in a Netflix-style streaming service, at a time when it would have had the brand power and customer loyalty to be successful. But the company believed this digital transformation would be too expensive and risky. The company failed not long after the rise of the streaming services, as customers’ consumption of movies changed.

Not all examples are as egregious – but when businesses do not start on a digital transformation journey, they risk losing revenue, customers and high-performing employees.

How are cybercriminals exploiting digital transformation?

It is important to remember that while digital transformation is clearly something that forward-thinking businesses need to take seriously – it comes with its challenges too. One issue that is sometimes overlooked is that transforming your business digitally can introduce security flaws and weaknesses into your system and defences.

Fast upgrades and deployments of technology – such as those seen through the COVID-19 pandemic – can create problems such as cloud misconfigurations. When digital transformation inadvertently creates weaknesses that can be exploited, cybercriminals are only too willing to find ways to take advantage.

As well as more traditional exploits like ransomware, phishing and denial of service attacks, emerging threats include the infiltration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which are increasingly being adopted in the workplace, and the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) as a weapon.

How to ensure your cyber security strategy keeps pace with digital transformation

In order to make sure that you have a strong cyber security strategy that matches your digital transformation, it is important to follow a number of different ideas. Some important tips include:

Adhere to secure by design principles

It is important to consider security from the outset of projects and ensure that security teams are consulted about planned projects. If your business can naturally embed security in a company’s culture, it won’t feel like a challenge to properly implement security during digital transformation.

Conduct regular risk and security assessments

Your business must carry out risk and security assessments in order to understand what is at risk, and how infrastructure and system changes can affect them. Your risk and security assessments need to consider how to best mitigate any risks, such as potential cloud security breaches.

Evaluate your choice of security solutions wisely

Ensure that the solutions you choose to protect your business are aligned to your strategy and provide the protection you’ll need now and in the future. Also, you shouldn’t depend on the latest security technologies being a single silver bullet to protect your business during digital transformation efforts – there is no one-size-fits-all solution, nor one that can keep you protected indefinitely.

Consider outside support

As your organisation investments in new systems it may be wise to seek specialist support. Digital transformation can create new risks that existing team members might not be experienced enough at identifying and addressing. Consider managed security services to help with threat prevention as well as detection and response.

Experts featured:

Chester Avey

Thought Leader

Tags:

digital transformation leadership strategy
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