Steve Durbin is Chief Executive of the Information Security Forum and member of the Forbes Business Council.
Strive for security by design, particularly as digital transformation programs get underway. Make security a part of the conversation from the outset of any new project
The mass migration of people out of the workplace and into the home prompted a sharp rise in cybersecurity incidents. This trend has real implications for the way we manage both our people and our critical assets going forward. Working in a much more distributed and, therefore, threat accessible environment, we need to change our approach to security and raise the level of awareness to mitigate risks and build resilience.
Threats like ransomware, social engineering and malicious insiders remain ever-present, and they need to be addressed, but new dangers are emerging all the time. Organizations face a growing cast of adversarial actors and evolving threats that could cause major disruption over the next couple of years.
The widespread adoption of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) has unlocked value in data and driven many business initiatives. But AI is a tool that can also be exploited by bad actors. There’s a risk that the industrialization of high-volume, high-impact, tailored cyber attacks could leave organizations completely overwhelmed and potentially unable to operate effectively.
It’s risky to rely too heavily on automated defenses to protect information. Ineffective implementation or lack of human oversight can lead to costly clashes that erode security. To prepare for this threat, we need to review our processes and controls. The ability to identify AI-powered attacks is essential, and we must prepare for the rollout of countermeasures from a defensive posture.
The risk of complacency and confusion is very real with the ever-expanding array of policies, processes and technologies that make up the security ecosystems of most organizations. This risk is exacerbated by the shortage of skilled resources in these areas. When security is layered, there are instances when policies and systems clash, potentially even contradicting each other and degrading the overall security level.
Streamlining is vital. Take a step back and reexamine security policies and operational processes. Analyze the technologies you use with a critical eye. Try to determine what the next normal will look like from a strategic business standpoint. Has risk appetite changed? How can security departments best facilitate a secure hybrid environment? Do security policies reflect business needs?
With a sharp increase in the use of biometrics and the gathering of biological data from things like pacemakers, contact lenses and a whole range of other medical devices, there are real concerns about the security of sensitive data. This data may be used to identify us as individuals, it may be manipulated or stolen, enabling attackers to access highly sensitive, highly confidential systems. As bad actors increasingly recognize its value and utility, they will relentlessly target organizations gathering biological data.
To avoid jeopardizing trust in the security of this data, we must develop strong controls and robust data classification practices. We must consider how data is handled and stored internally and what is shared with third-party partners and potentially exposed through the supply chain.
With an unstable geopolitical backdrop and a general move toward isolationism, there’s a real risk of a growing disconnect in security. Global operations will come under pressure from a raft of social, legal and political changes that will make operating across multiple jurisdictions even more challenging. An increasingly costly and high-risk operating environment, with fragmented and siloed security operations, will reverse the trend toward uniformity. Requirements for data generated in one country to remain in that country are incompatible with some cloud strategies.
Securing end-to-end systems and critical assets across the extended supply chain requires you to assess regional differences in legal restrictions. It may be necessary to review the risk appetite within the business for operating in certain jurisdictions. The wider security strategy will have to evolve and, once again, this goes beyond internal policies to encompass the supply chain and third-party partners.
Responding To Threats
We need to have governance processes in place, maintain a high degree of situational awareness in every part of the world where we’re active, revisit our overall approach and change some existing practices. Developing a playbook to cater to different potential threats is key. Building cyber resilience and maintaining business continuity necessitate regular discussion at the board level, drafting comprehensive response plans and frequent cybersecurity response exercises.
Strive for security by design, particularly as digital transformation programs get underway. Make security a part of the conversation from the outset of any new project. Be sure to factor in third parties inside the business and outside across the supply chains. Work toward transparency to empower agility and informed decision-making. Be mindful of the risk of exposing sensitive information, review access and potential exposure and focus on raising awareness by working with HR departments.
Ultimately, security strategy must be appropriate within the context of the organization’s risk appetite and firmly aligned with business goals.