Cybersecurity is nothing new; businesses have been focused on protecting their data and systems from hackers for decades. The challenge in today’s digital ecosystem, however, is the impact of security vulnerabilities that emerge as companies adapt to an evolving array of transformative technologies. While this is challenging enough, you also have to factor in the changing motives and toolsets of hackers in today’s world versus those of ten or twenty years ago.
It’s a complex big picture, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that organizations which prioritize and implement a strong, holistic cybersecurity strategy are the ones that will gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Why Should I Be More Concerned Now Than 15 Years Ago?
Maybe the omnipresent headlines about cyber hacks aren’t enough to scare you. After all, those are massive, multi-national corporations with countless potential points of attack, which simply isn’t relevant to the majority of businesses, right? On the contrary, this is far from the truth. While some industry verticals are at greater risk of cyber threats than others, every business needs to be aware of and prepared for potential vulnerabilities.
Jon-Michael C. Brook, leading expert in Cloud Security and Privacy and Principal of Guide Holdings, LLC, helps us to understand this issue further: Part of the problem is that the pace of security updates is often misaligned with the pace of newly adopted technologies. Fifteen years ago, businesses knew they needed a secure exterior wall around their technical infrastructure, preventing any potential breaches. In recent years, as cloud technology has become more prevalent, exterior-located security measures are simply not enough; they’re too easily bypassed, leaving the infrastructure open to everyone all the time. The other part of the problem is that supply chains are becoming increasingly complex, resulting in a great multitude of potential points of entry to hackers.
On top of this problem is the nature of the hackers themselves. Early hackers used to write their own modular code in order to hack a company’s infrastructure. These days, that code is readily available. Plus, security researchers are frequently using the same tools that hackers are using, creating a lower required skill set for those hackers to get in. Add on the growing direct-to-consumer trend in many industries, and the resulting user-friendly infrastructure creates an even weaker barrier for digital malfeasance. Finally, the subject of motives is an important one. Back in the day, hackers didn’t get much tangible return on their efforts other than a general sense of vindictive fun. Today’s hackers are money motivated; private records and data can be worth hundreds upon thousands of dollars.
How Do I Approach the Problem of Cyber Risk?
There’s no doubt that now more than ever businesses need to protect their data and systems using a holistic, strategic approach. This means that cybersecurity should be an initiative that is approached as a business issue, rather than just a tech issue.
At CyberSearch, we see a lot of clients asking for assessments and vulnerability testing at a very high level. Our security consultants frequently meet with executives, directors, and brokers to evaluate the current state of their company through the lens of cybersecurity. We’ll run vulnerability testing of all security systems, both at an application level and from an infrastructure perspective. Once a high level evaluation is complete, these consultants make recommendations based on how an organization’s current state of security will affect future business objectives.
At this point, the next step is implementation. Typically, the best strategy here is to recruit cybersecurity professionals with niche vertical skills. For example, in the realm of healthcare, where sensitive data and stringent government regulation are of critical concern, a generic security architect would be inferior to a security architect with HIPAA experience. For each industry vertical, especially high-risk sectors like financial services, healthcare, retail, and, of course, government, you need subject matter experts who know the ins and outs of your business operations.
At the end of the day, cyber risk is a complex problem, further convoluted by the fact that it’s so unpredictable. A recent cybersecurity report quotes Malcom Marshall, Global Head of Cyber Security at KPMG, who commented: “it is far more difficult to quantify than with most other risks, and it is much harder to know when one is truly adequately prepared to address cyber-attacks. It is far easier to anticipate what the likely magnitude of damage will be from a flood, for example, than from a cyber-breach.”
In this unpredictable yet vital sector of information technology, we work closely with clients to discern risk and implement protective measures. Let us know how we can help you with your cybersecurity initiatives.