Every company is striving to be top of its particular market and to be considered a fast-growing and profitable organisation. In order to achieve this, digitisation must be front of mind. Digital technology can provide companies with a crucial edge over competitors in myriad ways such as cost savings, improved customer experience and greater employee satisfaction. But, every additional digital system an IT department introduces can offer another potential entry point for malicious actors looking to compromise digital security.
This means that many companies face a difficult balancing act between implementing digital processes to stay ahead of the competition, and securing their own and their customers’ data. These are both mammoth tasks in isolation, not to mention the high-stakes, given the severe financial and reputational consequences of a breach. So what can be done to strike the perfect balance?
Digitisation – moving forward at the speed of light
Businesses made significant steps towards digitisation in the early 90s – a time of consistent technological advancement and the World Wide Web boom. But whilst digitisation has been taking place for years, some contemporary companies are still struggling to effectively introduce new technology and secure their intellectual property.
For quick transactions and effective business, digitisation is a prerequisite for companies that wish to stay competitive – and this is where the challenge lies. The implementation of a truly effective digital strategy must have security at its heart. This has never been more important, considering the fact that the General Data Protection Regulation is drawing ever closer.
GDPR is fast approaching
Less than 8 months remain until the GDPR comes into force. Under the new legislation, companies that are not deemed to have taken reasonable steps to protect customer data in the event of a breach could face fines of €20m or 4% of global turnover, whichever is greater.
This means it is imperative that companies take particularly good care of any information that could be used to directly or indirectly identify customers, for instance; names, photographs, email addresses, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or computer IP addresses. It is also noteworthy that if a company has any European customers, the GDPR regulations will apply in the same manner as for the companies that are located within the European Union.
Do we still WannaCry?
For organisations that store particularly sensitive information on behalf of customers, such as legal, healthcare or higher education institutions, an effective security strategy is even more critical, because the consequences of a breach are particularly severe. For instance, in the event of a breach, information about suspects in high-level legal cases could be leaked, or university students could lose months or even years of work.
While these examples might seem like another doomsday scenario, it is only necessary to look back a couple of months to the WannaCry outbreak and its impact on healthcare services. For example, NHS Lanarkshire was affected particularly badly by WannaCry. A number of procedures and appointments were cancelled due to IT failures, and patients were even advised to avoid visiting emergency departments if possible. It would not be over dramatic, therefore, to suggest that in some instances, a data breach could even become a life-or-death matter.
An attainable solution
To avoid a potentially dangerous or business-destroying incident (and a hefty fine from GDPR regulators), companies must implement robust and adaptable security solutions as soon as possible, and certainly in advance of May 2018. Comprehensive cover against all eventualities can only be achieved by implementing a layered stack of complementary security solutions.
Preventative security tools such as antivirus and firewalls are still effective as a first line defence, but the advancement of more complex attacks, such as APTs (advanced persistent threats) and zero-day threats mean they no longer work as a stand-alone measure. A focus on recovery is also essential. If an organisation is hit with an advanced ransomware attack, for instance, the first priority must be to recover data, restore systems and resume operations as quickly as possible. Every second of downtime damages a business, so organisations should look for a tool that allows them to return to working order as quickly as possible (and preferably within minutes).
To summarise, digitisation is a crucial part of a company’s evolution and simply a fact of life for the modern business. The benefits of introducing digital technology cannot be overstated, but the development of secure foundations for building a digital empire is a ‘must’.