Modern life is dominated by technology. We interact with technology at nearly every point throughout our day, and we have become quite dependent on our online devices. We use devices for everything from communication to retail purchases, but most importantly, to make us more efficient and productive in our work lives.
Businesses everywhere are becoming more digitized as both an operational improvement and a necessity to keep up with competitors. Many organizations have armed employees with corporate devices, from the CEO to sales reps.
Increasing company endpoints can significantly raise the levels of cyber risk and insider threats an organization must deal with. These cyber risks used to be an issue the IT department dealt with, but our changing workplace dynamic forces business leaders to see cybersecurity risks as a business risk and not just an IT issue.
Cybersecurity risks can impact an entire organization
Because of the interconnected nature of modern IT infrastructures, breaches, cyberattacks, and data loss can compromise an organization’s ability to operate normally, affecting business continuity throughout. For example, if a breach affects access and identity control, employees won’t be able to enter, retrieve, or process data.
Entire teams will have to take additional steps to complete their tasks or may be unable to do so at all. Organizations that depend on real-time analytics to support their decision-making process may see that process hindered by downtime in their data centers. The most important factor, however, is how cyber risk can ultimately affect the supply chain, partner ecosystem, and clients.
A business’ customer experience delivery is entirely dependent on its IT infrastructure’s performance. Being unable to deliver what clients expect can result in a financial loss for an organization, as well as damage its reputation.
Cybersecurity risks aren't just technical issues
Since cybersecurity risks affect an organization across all its divisions, it should not be viewed as strictly an IT issue. Cyber risk affects business continuity, operational performance, customer experience delivery, and can increase costs across the board, so it should be approached as a business risk and treated as such.
Understanding and prioritizing cyber risk management from business continuity and recovery perspective will help decision-makers evaluate ways to mitigate and respond to security threats more effectively. This can be a complex exercise, however, since it's difficult to articulate cyber risk as a business risk through most available metrics, which are often rooted in technical measures. But cybersecurity transcends technical measures, incorporating social and organizational factors such as corporate culture and employee education.
Going beyond IT
A recent Gartner research paper noted that existing and future cybersecurity risks will pressure CIOs to increase IoT security spending by up to 25%, possibly neutralizing business productivity profits. This is just an example of how shifting the task of dealing with cyber risk to the IT department can raise costs without necessarily solving the issue.
As few as 30% of organizations employ cross-organizational measures to approach cyber risk as a business risk. Cybersecurity needs to be permanently and proactively engaged as a strategy that involves every member of an organization instead of a downstream process focused on technical solutions.
There are several steps that can be taken to arm an organization with a holistic cyber risk management strategy:
Compliance frameworks such as NIST set a useful blueprint to build an end-to-end cybersecurity strategy. Standardizing your approach can help your organization define multiple layers of defense with a proactive approach that will also drive digital innovation.
Compliance enables you to keep a high standard of cyber operational maturity that will ultimately help your organization evolve and become more resilient over time.
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Establishing and following a reliable procedure for security events such as breaches and data loss is a critical step in mitigating consequences. Reaction, recovery, and analysis are all crucial towards strengthening an organization’s security posture. The more you can learn from each incident, the easier your organization can improve processes, plans, and risk scenario modeling.
Every employee, from interns to C-levels, can represent an insider threat if they are ignoring security practices and policies. Employees are the first and strongest line of defense against cyber risk, so its imperative to build a corporate culture that embraces cyber-resiliency.
This includes external stakeholders such as partners and service providers. Robust security policies, practices, and processes, along with ongoing training and cyber risk awareness, will take the pressure off the IT department to have to put out fires.
Cybersecurity technology is expensive, so it’s essential to spend wisely. An organization’s security solutions should address its present and future challenges as effectively as possible. This can only be achieved through thorough assessments and roadmap building that identifies vulnerabilities and threats across the entire enterprise.
Security solutions must be rooted in secure designs that take all these vulnerabilities into account at both a product and system level. Your technology should be working for your organization, not the other way around.
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Digital Transformation in Cybersecurity
Digital disruption has created a hyper-competitive business landscape and expectations for technology decision-makers to improve quality, service, compliance, and experience with less resources. To do this, technology leaders are embracing digital transformation and cloud technologies to unlock business potential while meeting industry standards for data security, privacy, and regulatory compliance.
Cloud solutions provision and deploy business applications allowing for hybrid or full replacement of depreciated obsolete legacy systems and investment. This frees up IT support and management budgets to drive innovation and improve operations, better aligning them with the current needs of the business.
It’s impossible to build an impenetrable fortress that will never face cybersecurity incidents. Technology can only do so much, and human error is imminent no matter how strong corporate culture may be. This is why cybersecurity must be regarded as a business priority and have an ongoing conversation with all stakeholders, from CSO to partners.