The rush to become a digital enterprise is well and truly on. Almost every business, regardless of size or industry, is aware of the promise and potential that enterprise digital transformation holds. Those who dare to partake in this inevitable evolution are guaranteed a range of perks in the long run: better business agility, the capability to provide a truly next-level customer experience, high-quality decision making at every level, and robust operational efficiency.
Digital transformation, though, firmly hinges on data collection, cloud migration, and sometimes DevSecOps. This means that without effective data security, your digital transformation strategy might not see the light of day, and even if it does, the benefits will most certainly be short-lived.
The growing number of cyberattacks is enough to highlight the importance of cybersecurity. Even as you gear up to overhaul your systems with new technologies, there is a need to pay more attention to data security.
In this blog, we’ll explain why securing your infrastructure and data should be your topmost concern in the journey to becoming a truly agile and innovative digital business.
Prioritizing Data Security from the Start
By prioritizing data security at the onset of your digital transformation journey, you’re actively and continually safeguarding your organization’s most important assets—data, systems, applications, customers, finances, and reputation.
Let’s look at the why and how of this concept.
- Concerns over the security of digital assets: Managing a detailed inventory of digital assets and ensuring their protection is not an easy task. This is especially true for companies that fully or partially moved to remote work during the pandemic. Any security leak might disrupt your company’s daily operations.
- Security concerns on the Cloud: Despite the allure of cloud migration and the cloud in general, concerns about how data can be protected are concerning. This is not surprising, though, given that since the start of 2020, 98% of companies have reportedly experienced at least one cloud data breach.
- Security sensitive data is a mandate: With the enforcement of legislations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), securing sensitive information has inevitably become compulsory for most organizations. Apart from bringing in new privacy rights for individuals, the legislation also makes breach notification mandatory in the digital age.
- To ensure business continuity: No one wants their business to come to a grinding halt at any point in time. But when a cyber incident happens, business disruption is hard to avoid.
To support overall digital transformation goals, organizations must consider their security posture across the entirety of the enterprise architecture.
The good news is, with the right strategies and approach, true and complete data security is achievable and sustainable.
Consider the following best practices:
1. Prioritize Executive Communication on Security
Like digital transformation, security is not a one-man show, meaning it requires collaboration across an entire organization. Consider all the departments and employees with different day-to-day duties and the access or permissions they all need to do their jobs.
Strong executive support is crucial to overcome potential points of friction and manage speed bumps. Clear and continuous executive communication about the perks of digital transformation and why new—sometimes cumbersome—security measures are necessary also helps teams understand the importance of these changes.
Rather than scaring your employees into submission, explain the benefits a better security stance can bring, like protecting a company from financial loss, consumer trust degradation, reputational harm, and brand erosion.
2. Boost Skills to Operate Novel Technologies
Having communicated the importance of a digital-first data security strategy, the next best step is to recognize the threat that the human factor poses in the entirety of the journey.
To err is human, but in the current digital age where bad actors are always looking to pounce on any loopholes, even the slightest mistake is punishable. For context, a recent World Economic Forum study reveals that 95% of cybersecurity breaches result from human error. Another study reports that, in 2020 alone, data breaches caused by human error cost businesses an average of $3.3 million.
To that end, consider holding regular training sessions for employees and top management on how to work safely in the new digital reality. Make it mandatory for every team member to attend.
3. Dial In On Protecting Your Digital Assets
In a time of accelerated digital transformation, the concept of digital assets is also rapidly changing. Put simply, almost everything is a digital asset these days—from videos and files to images and spreadsheets.
Of course, using a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution to organize, manage, and secure your digital assets is a step in the right direction. But if you’re eyeing a truly digital-first security strategy, you need to do more. By “do more,” we mean leaving your digital asset management needs in the hands of a reliable digital transformation partner from the get-go. Such a team not only boasts robust frameworks and special tools for securing your digital resources, but they are also specialists in risk management and regulation compliance. For your digital transformation strategy to take off without hiccups, you need that level of expertise and experience in your corner.
4. Implement a Comprehensive, Effective Cybersecurity Strategy
To protect critical data in the age of digital transformation, the most important thing you can do is to develop a cybersecurity strategy based on different security principles such as Least Privilege and/or Zero Trust (more on this below).
Here are a few best practices around the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP):
- Start all accounts with the least privilege: The default for all new accounts privileges should be set as low as possible. Only add specific higher-level powers if and when the need arises.
- Enforce the separation of privileges: Separate admin accounts from standard accounts, and higher-level system functions from lower ones.
- Make individual actions trackable: User IDs, one-time passwords, monitoring, and automatic auditing can make it easier to track and limit damage in the event of a breach.
- Make it regular: Auditing access privileges regularly prevents a situation where older users, accounts, and processes accumulate privileges over time, whether they still need those things or not.
5. Avoid Putting Cloud Security on the Back Burner
Undoubtedly, moving to the Cloud offers companies significant agility and flexibility as well as potential security benefits. Still, there are challenges, most commonly when a company chooses to liaise with a subpar cloud engineering provider.
For example, if your provider is not a fan of the Zero Trust model, then there’s a high chance any data you have on the Cloud could be compromised down the road. What’s more, cloud services are easy to sign up for, which means that some of your employees could be using software programs that your IT team isn’t aware of. This is called shadow IT. Although shadow IT seems harmless, your employees may be unintentionally giving data access to unvetted software systems.
In light of these challenges, you need to have a deep understanding of how your company is utilizing the Cloud. It is crucial to learn in advance what solutions and formats are utilized by your provider of choice. While at it, make a point of assessing their cybersecurity level and prowess early on, so you can gauge whether or not they are the right fit.
Importance of Zero Trust Security Model
If you have been paying close attention to the security trends lately, then you’ve most likely come across the buzzword “zero trust”. At its core, zero trust is hinged on the concept of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), essentially a category of technologies that secure remote access to applications and services based on defined access control policies.
With ZTNA, nothing is implicitly trusted. Trust has to be earned constantly. Zero Trust is a very simple and effective way of micro-segmenting your enterprise network so that only users who prove their identity and have compliant devices can access only very specific resources—and not the whole network. This has tremendous benefits for security, including improved data protection, simplified IT management, and greater visibility across the enterprise.
We see you asking, “How, then, can I implement a zero trust security model?” Here’s how:
- 2FA and MFA: Require two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication every time someone wants access to specific data. A single password may no longer be sufficient against today’s witty and forward-thinking cybercriminals, but having two or three authentication modes put together drastically increases your data security.
- The right people: You must build the right team to spearhead your Zero Trust security strategy. Given cybersecurity threats have become incredibly complex, you need experts in every field. From data loss prevention (DLP) to identity access and management (IAM), the right team can bring you one step closer to your digital transformation goals.
- Do not open unknown emails: To avoid being a victim of phishing or email impersonation attacks, steer clear of unaccredited emails. Provide necessary training to your employees regarding the same so they only open emails from legitimate brands, individuals, and domains.
- Third-party security is key: Make sure that the third-party people and organizations involved in your workflows are secure. Their cybersecurity vulnerabilities may cause you damage in the shape of compromised data.
- Back end security matters, too: You don’t want your employees accessing customer payment information through a public Wi-Fi connection. Your authentication process should be able to prevent access in these situations.
Importance of Periodic Audits
If your organization wants to avoid a data breach and subsequently stay on top of its digital transformation goals, then periodic audits are pretty much a no-brainer. Above all else, these audits help your business comply with legal, regulatory, and contractual cybersecurity requirements.
When your cybersecurity frameworks and practices are audited frequently, you’ll find it easy to track down the paths evildoers take to attack your organization. This presents an opportunity to continuously evaluate how your organization is vulnerable, so you’re never caught off-guard.
Keep in mind that digital security is relative rather than absolute. By continually assessing risk, you’ll be better placed to make improvements and do what is right to avoid lagging behind the pack. This way, bad actors are less inclined to target your organization.
Also, due to the recent public health crisis, work-from-home has become the new norm and there are no signs it’s going “out of fashion” any time soon. Cybercriminals are using this heightened activity on unsecured networks as an opportunity to exploit the users and take advantage of their vulnerability. However, by regularly ensuring the efficacy of network security protocols and enabling Zero Trust architecture along with multi-factor authentication, a majority of these cybersecurity risks can be mitigated.
Digital transformation, which creates an incredibly extensive and complex threat surface, makes it a necessity to prioritize data security. While it’s tempting to focus on cybersecurity only when your defenses are compromised, such an approach is retrogressive at best and will only jeopardize your most prized asset while scaring away current and prospective customers. So before you kick-start your digital transformation journey, put data security behind the wheel. Then watch the digitally and strategically nimble organization you’ve always dreamed of unfold before your very eyes.
At Practical Logix, we’re the biggest fans of enterprise digital transformation you’ll ever meet, and we can’t wait to put our extensive knowledge and experience to work for you. When you reach out to us, we’ll start by working with your key team members to understand their workflows, goals, and priorities. Then, using the insights we’ve gained, we’ll quickly activate our cloud transformation services team to suggest the best technologies to use for your unique challenge. Finally, a complete blueprint of your soon-to-be ecosystem is ideated and formulated, before our design and engineering teams swing into action to bring it all into reality.
If this sounds like an interesting proposition, contact us today and we’ll be more than willing to help.