For some organisations, the pandemic brought-forward digital transformation plans that were already in place. Others were forced to design and implement new processes in an extremely short space of time. Digital developments are rapidly changing the market and can yield significant efficiency savings – but no digital strategy can be deemed successful unless it is secure. To keep your organisation, data, customers and staff protected, new initiatives should be designed with security as a key priority from the outset.
Often, IT security specialists are not involved in new coding initiatives or hardware decisions. Serious security issues are much more likely to arise when your teams are not working closely together, so it is vital that communications between teams is constant and reliable. The last thing you want is for brilliant (and costly) digital innovations to be ‘pulled’ at the last minute because they are deemed unsafe.
To avoid last-minute hiccups, acrimonious disputes between teams, or an outright commercial disaster, information security teams should have input at all stages of digital initiatives. IT security teams are there to protect, not hinder, progress so involving them at the beginning makes it much easier for different teams to work together harmoniously throughout the project.
Changing work patterns
The shift to remote-working was underway before the pandemic lockdowns (digital technology simply makes it good sense) but it poses challenges that traditional security approaches are often unable to cope with adequately. The modern IT landscape is extremely diverse and few businesses can afford expertise to cover everything. In a number of key fields, it is sensible to consult or partner with outside specialists.
Mobile and cloud
Mobile devices are being used far more by employees, customers and even outside agencies (think of track and trace). Usually, the Cloud is the other side of this coin, facilitating connections to central networks from all kinds of different environments. But this cyberspace is still an unregulated jungle – a new Wild West – and it is a lucrative target for criminals. Mobile devices, cloud platforms and off-site data centres are all opportunities for data theft, and worse.
Today’s and tomorrow’s digital initiatives need to incorporate solutions that will work with mobile computers, remote and roving access, and connectivity with remote Cloud data services. This will prove very difficult if you don’t make enhanced security solutions part of your initial design.
Ransomware was on the rise even before the pandemic but over the past year has evolved alarmingly. It is now rare for a week to pass without a noteworthy company being targeted. According to recent research, the total cost of ransomware attacks may now exceed $9bn a year. A fully-integrated security strategy to combat ransomware should include technical patching routines, threat awareness, pre-defined containment policies and robust backup and disaster-recovery arrangements.
Culture and training
If your organisation doesn’t yet appreciate the importance of security you have a culture problem. Both directors and employees need to understand that security is not an ‘inconvenience’ but a business necessity. Every member of the company has to understand that security is for their own protection, their job’s protection and their customers protection. That is unlikely to happen without involving security experts in major business decisions, and running a continual awareness program for company employees. An external cyber-security training program will keep you updated about new threats and the tools to combat them.
Unifying digital communications
Over the course of the pandemic it became clear that everyone needed, or wanted, multiple communication channels; websites, social media, SMS, mobile phones, video conferences and so on. Securing multiple channels is a lot harder than securing one – especially if you don’t even know which are being used. Unifying and standardising your communications has to be a high priority.
The new threats are many, but with specialist IT security assistance you can digitally reinvent your business for the Brave New World we are entering.