Threats, risks and dangers related to cyber-security are changing. CIOs must respond with a well-defined strategy and the right mix of processes and tools.
Over the past few years, digital technologies have rippled through the business world and unleashed unprecedented innovation and disruption. Yet today's technology framework also has put businesses in the crosshairs and created new levels of risk.
No longer are cyber-threats thwarted by clearly defined perimeters such as firewalls. No longer are malware and cyber-attacks blocked by traditional security tools designed to identify specific viruses and code. "It's an entirely different landscape," observes Oswin Deally, vice president of cyber-security at consulting firm Capgemini.
To be sure, mobility, clouds, the internet of things (IoT) and the increasingly interconnected nature of business and IT systems have radically changed the stakes. There's a growing need for security transformation.
Yet, at the same time, attacks are becoming more insidious and sophisticated. Phishing, spear-phishing, whaling, ransomware, hacking, hacktivism and corporate espionage are now mainstream problems. Data breaches and DDoS attacks are a daily concern.
"Cyber-security has moved from a compliance and regulatory topic to front-page headline news," says Dan Logan, director of enterprise and security architecture for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
No Space Is Safe
The scope of today's cyber-security challenge is mind-boggling. Gartner predicts that more than 8.4 billion IoT devices will be used in 2017, and the number will swell to more than 20 billion by 2020. Meanwhile, 74 percent of organizations now store some, if not all, sensitive data in the public cloud, according to a February 2017 Intel Security study.
Not surprisingly, the stakes are growing, and achieving digital transformation while ensuring security is not a simple task. An October 2016 Ponemon Institute study found that the average cost of cyber-crime to a large organization in the United States rose to more than $17 million in 2016.
An interconnected world with intertwined data means that threats can come from anywhere at any time. Business disruption, information loss, a diminished brand image and revenue, and damage to equipment are constant risks. Nevertheless, organizations are struggling to keep up.
Ponemon points out that only 39 percent of companies deploy advanced backup and recovery operations, though it reduces the average cost of cyber-crime by nearly $2 million. Similarly, only 28 percent of companies have a formal information governance program, though this typically reduces the cost of cyber-crime by nearly $1 million.
Capgemini's Deally says that a starting point for dealing with today's threat landscape is to recognize that there are two primary areas to focus on: business-driven events and threat-driven events. The former revolves around things like digital commerce, innovation, intellectual property, products and supply chains that present targets and create risks for the enterprise. The latter encompasses attack methods and vectors, including email, mobile devices, the IoT, and other systems and software.
"It is becoming more and more of a borderless world where the devices that drive productivity also represent risk," he points out.
CIOs and other enterprise leaders must understand business and technology intersection points and how they introduce risks at various levels—from application security to APIs and network design to clouds. It's also important to clearly understand business and data assets and identify priorities in terms of value, sensitivity and risk.
Not all data is created equal and not all systems require equal protection. This approach, when layered over specific industry risks, begins to deliver some clarity about how and where to focus a cyber-security strategy and select the right protections and processes.