Regardless of sector, digital transformation has become a business necessity for organisations in 2021. Described as the most important trend in business today, 65% of the globe’s GDP is expected to be digitalised by the end of 2022. And with promised benefits including improved operational efficiency, agility and employee productivity, it’s no surprise that businesses are going digital.
However, while there’s no denying the importance of digital transformation, different levels of organisational maturity can lead to different approaches and this is particularly apparent when it comes to security. Many organisations often take a reactive approach, whereby business and technology transformation are the priority and security is only considered afterwards. However, the risks from putting security on the backburner can be numerous, including higher costs and extended timelines to retrofit crucial security fixes.
More mature companies have a different approach – one that puts security transformation first, ahead of digital transformation, to ensure the best possible future-proofed outcome. Their success is now providing a valuable proven blueprint for other firms to follow. So, to reap the benefits of this approach where should you start?
Shift your mindset
Before embarking on any transformation, it’s imperative to get your strategy right. Move away from thinking purely about digital transformation and cyber security as separate strategies and instead develop a cyber security transformation strategy. This will ensure that you can reduce risk and improve your cyber resilience, even as your attack surface grows.
It may be that security transformation becomes the driver of your digital transformation. For example, if you have identified vulnerabilities within your legacy IT infrastructure that necessitates a need to move critical data to the cloud.
Take critical national infrastructure as an example… The convergence of IT and Operational Technology (OT) as well as increased legislative requirements, such as the Network and Information Systems (NIS) Regulation, is driving a clear need for cyber security transformation. Organisations need to adapt to gain a holistic view of cyber security across physical OT and cloud systems before transformation can take place.
Understand your risks
Digitalising your business ultimately introduces new risks. For example, new digital channels can broaden your attack service, while poorly configured cloud-based infrastructure can pose easy targets for cyber attackers. There’s also risks from the internet of Things (IoT) which increases sensitive data proliferation (and by association, vulnerabilities), as well as authentication and access risks posed by remote working and connected supply chains. Before embarking on a transformation plan, you need to understand the security implications of any changes.
In order to ensure that security is front of mind in your transformation you need to adopt a philosophy of a zero trust, where no individual or device is trusted. This involves verification by authenticating and authorising based on all available data points, utilising just-in-time and just-enough-access to limit user access and using analytics to drive threat detection. Not only does this help businesses to be prepared for cyber threats, but also articulates the value of security transformation to other departments.
Embed security from the outset
It can be tempting to simply keep investing in a growing number of security technology tools as and when your transformation takes place. However, all too often there is little integration, overlap and there are gaps in the coverage these tools offer. And while a well-configured set of security tools can provide coverage, many drive threat alerts that are false positives or benign positives, leading to fatigue and alert blindness. Instead, ensuring security is a critical part of the initial design of your transformation strategy.
Use security intelligence to your advantage
Move away from a focus on prevention to response and make security intrinsic throughout the business by implementing proactive measures such as Managed Detection and Response (MDR). By combining human analysis, artificial intelligence and automation to rapidly detect, analyse, investigate and actively respond to threats, MDR can encourage alignment of security transformation with digital transformation.
An adaptive and customisable security model, MDR can be deployed rapidly and cost-effectively as a fully outsourced service or via a hybrid SOC. It helps develop a reference security architecture that enables you to safeguard on-premise and legacy systems, cloud-based infrastructure applications and SaaS solutions, whilst also protecting and responding to new security and user identity threats as well as reducing cyber risk and the dwell time of breaches.
Engage third party support
Finally, don’t neglect to seek help from outside your organisation. By engaging a security architect early on in your project lifecycle, you can benefit from robust and detailed analysis and expertise to ensure the correct decisions are made, tracked and traced from beginning to end. They can also help you understand the interdependencies across your IT estate, identify risks and suggest best practice, as well as legal and regulatory obligations to ensure you continue to be able to withstand a range of cyber attacks throughout your transformation.
Reaping the rewards of cyber security transformation
Every business is on a digital transformation journey, regardless of size or objectives. However, as organisations transform, so do technology and cyber threats. Those that fail to adopt a more proactive and efficient system for mitigating risks and handling, responding, detecting and learning from cyber security attacks will find themselves falling behind and the security function unable to keep up.
Ultimately, cyber and digital security should be thought of as inseparable – and those that can plan and integrate both into their transformation projects from the very beginning will be in the strongest position to succeed and future-proof their business.
By implementing a robust cyber security transformation process and proactive security measures, such as MDR that can support secure digital transformation, you can reap the benefits of a stronger, structured system for managing, isolating and reducing threats and continue to pivot, transition and serve in the new digital economy without leaving security on the side-lines.
Bridewell Consulting is a specialist cyber security and data privacy consultancy. NCSC Certified and CREST accredited, it provides reliable, high-quality security and risk consulting services; helping its customers protect not just their data, but their reputation, customer trust and bottom line. Providing four core service areas: cyber security, data privacy, penetration testing/red team assessments and managed security services, Bridewell’s expert team of professionals possess specialist industry experience and proven capabilities. They can deliver effective cyber security and data privacy services across financial services, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, technology, retail, media, government, aviation and 24×7 critical services. As a vendor agnostic business, Bridewell is able to effectively and honestly engage with business executives and provide advice, guidance and services in a way that is most appropriate for each organisation, ensuring that proposed solutions are aligned with its clients’ strategy, business objectives and the wider IT architecture.
Learn more about emerging trends across the tech panorama in the latest issue of Interface