The evolution of cyber security in the wake of digitalisation

Thinking back 30 years, heads of IT had a comparatively enviable task when it came to cyber security. Although the job was by no means a walk in the park, at least there was a certain simplicity given the relatively small number of devices they needed to protect.

Today, with the sharp increase in in use of digital technologies in the workplace, driven by the need for businesses to become more agile and adaptable, there has been a surge in the number of endpoints and potential ways for cybercriminals to gain access to enterprise networks. As a result, the entire cyber battlefield has evolved and become far more complex.

Today’s security teams have to come up with new tactics to fend off the advanced threats being levelled against their increasingly interconnected enterprise networks.

In the past, the battle against cyber criminals was regarded as a concern for the IT department, but the widely documented breach at Sony in 2014 put cybercrime at the top of the business agenda. Organisations realised that a breach, compromise or attack could have a major impact on business performance, brand perception and – most importantly – the financial bottom line.

Security became an enterprise-wide issue that needed addressing, and managing risk, a business priority. However, even after the Sony attack, security hadn’t necessarily become the board-level concern that it is today.

More recent attacks such as the crippling WannaCry and more recent NotPetya ransomware outbreaks have highlighted that an attack doesn’t need to be against a specific organisation to create chaos and cost millions. In WannaCry’s case, this attack affected huge organisations, such as the NHS, Telefonica and other large multinational enterprises, to devastating effect.

If board members weren’t paying enough attention to the need for better cyber security defences before, they certainly are now. Additionally, changes in regulation and compliance requirements – alongside a better understanding of the potential reputational risk of a breach – has highlighted why security must be top of the agenda, not just for the board, but for every employee and supplier.

With this in mind, there have been three key shifts have taken place in the wake of recent large scale cyber attacks:

Security has moved beyond IT

No longer just the concern of the IT geek in the backroom, security now impacts everyone and has an expansive view. Its horizon is absolutely linked to business operations – whether local, regional or even global – and every department it touches.

It has the power to break down the silos that enterprises often operate within; increasing interaction across departments, so that assets that need protecting are identified, reducing the impact of a future attack.

However, its reach stretches beyond the confines of the core of the business, out to the edge where data (held in the cloud, on mobile devices and generated by IoT) is in transit and potentially a moving cyber target.

Adaptive enterprises are leveraging digital transformation and that impacts how they also use security – linking it back to business objectives; enabling disruptive business models such as mobile banking, and strengthening their focus on cyber threats.

Security is at the heart of innovation

IT security is no longer a barrier to change, hindering the adoption of new processes and the adoption of innovative technologies. In fact, security is front and center in the new digital world. It is accelerating ‘speed of service’; embedded in software-defined networks (SDN); enabling wider, seamless and secure access to data in the Internet of Things (IoT) and much more. Security is now a pre-requisite, built into new technologies and devices from the outset.

Security is becoming smarter, better, faster stronger

Speed and agility are not the only assets IT security needs to harness. It also needs to act smarter and be more effective, often in the face of reduced budgets.

Managing security in the digital world involves the gathering, synthesis and analysis of security data as standard. It’s no longer just about the data, but what the data can tell us.

Those providers that can leverage insight, intelligence services within a global network view will be at the forefront of the next generation of security services, improving cyber threat visibility and mitigating risk. This will separate the security intelligence provider market into those who just collect data, and those with the foresight and expertise to deliver intelligent insights.

Where do businesses go from here?

It’s impossible to predict exactly where the industry will turn next, but we do know that innovation and digitisation will not stop anytime soon. They will continue to grow at an exponential pace, and remain crucial for business success.

With this in mind, businesses must embrace new technologies, define strategies that deliver (and exceed) on customer experience, and take a proactive security approach to ensure all these elements can take place securely. Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report showed that the same threat tactics are still effective in infiltrating data, because many organisations are missing a core foundation of security tools and processes.

Given the threat from cybercrime is increasing, businesses can’t afford to be reactive anymore. To succeed in security, they must look towards improving their cyber security systems, as there is too much at stake – no one wants to become a victim of the next WannaCry or NotPetya.


Sourced by Ali Neil, Director of International Security Solutions at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, at Verizon

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...