The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Fast forward 2,500 years and he could have been speaking about today’s digital era.
Technology is changing. Business models are changing. Products and services are changing. The threat landscape is changing. And the requirements for business success are changing. The common thread woven through all of these changing facets of the modern economy is cybersecurity. With the right approach to cybersecurity organizations can embrace new technologies, adopt new business models, offer more competitive products and services, increase their resilience to evolving threats, and gain a competitive edge.
As a security professional, this puts you at the center of change and your organization’s ability to navigate into the future. You have the power to help position your organization for success and keep it from getting sidetracked. But how do you harness cybersecurity to help your organization take advantage of new opportunities in order to thrive in this digital era?
Here are five recommendations to consider.
1. Own it. To succeed in the digital era you need to turn cybersecurity into your growth advantage, ensuring you get your share of digital value at stake. This begins by being an advocate across the C-suite, gaining alignment between IT and the business, and helping to champion the people, processes, and technologies that will make digital initiatives more secure. With a proactive approach to cybersecurity you can stay ahead of the curve – assigning dedicated cybersecurity resources, allocating funding for cybersecurity initiatives, and actively incorporating cybersecurity tools and best practices into your operations – with the aim of driving innovation and growth.
2. Be a savvy risk-taker. When it comes to digital transformation, mitigate risk by choosing projects with a high opportunity-to-risk ratio, not just a low-risk profile. In other words, take risks but make sure the rewards outweigh the costs. There are lots of examples of digital initiatives that fit into this category, starting with cybersecurity itself. Other digital capabilities that are already delivering value include remote collaboration as well as many that are sector-specific. For example, as I discussed in a previous article, improved oil-recovery efficiency (oil and gas), omnichannel capabilities and sales and service transformation (financial services and retail), and predictive maintenance analytics (manufacturing). Each of these initiatives require that you have confidence in incorporating digital technology areas like analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing into your business processes and offerings.
3. Trade up. Successful organizations compete and thrive in this new era by recognizing that cybersecurity itself is an engine for digital business transformation. As such, digital processes should be re-engineered with cybersecurity embedded into the strategy. As your organization considers new initiatives, be sure to identify insecure technologies – and the business processes they enable – and replace them with new ones. For example, refresh your network to incorporate software-defined segmentation and more easily restrict access from IoT devices to the data center by creating high security zones for your most important information.
4. Make it a mindset. The same proactive measures that help your organization excel in cybersecurity can also strengthen product development, risk management, threat analysis, and response in other parts of the business. But given the global cybersecurity skills shortage, you’ll need a real strategy to cultivate talent and the mindset required across the many different functions of your organization. A combination of recruiting, partnering with third parties, and offering professional development opportunities to existing staff may provide the most effective and efficient approach.
5. Measure what matters. Attackers currently have unconstrained time to operate, giving them a higher chance of succeeding. Instead of just measuring the number of blocked threats, time to detection is the real indicator of security effectiveness, allowing you to contain an attack and remediate faster. Institute detailed processes for determining how you will measure cybersecurity effectiveness within your organization. It requires understanding the value of what you are protecting should it fall into the wrong hands, a methodology for quantifying both the gains and losses with cybersecurity, and simulations to continuously test the efficacy of your security operations. This helps build the case for additional investments to enhance protections.
Another Greek philosopher, Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” We’re at the beginning of digital business transformation. As you move forward into this new era, take time now to lay a strong cybersecurity foundation that will pay future dividends, helping you capture the opportunities that continuous change presents.