The Increasing Need for Cyber Security in Digital Transformation
Cyber Threats at an All-Time High
As businesses become more connected and rely more on digital workflows, cybercriminals have an ever-increasing supply of targets. Where there is abundant supply, demand will follow. A report noted that 2021 saw 15.1% more cyber attacks than the previous year. That trend is only expected to continue as more companies push towards a digital future. Does this mean your company should wait to pursue a digital transition? No, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Nevertheless, companies must navigate these risks. Most cyber-attacks today aim to pilfer data from company systems. This is most often the case when the attack uses stolen credentials to gain access to company data. Criminals are especially interested in consumer data since they can acquire thousands of records at once. Corporate secrets are not usually the target, though they may be if you’re an industry leader in a high-tech field. Other criminals simply seek a quick payday using ransomware.
Does Digital Transformation Increase Cyber Security Risk?
A frequent concern from companies considering a digital transformation is whether doing so will lead to greater cyber security risk. However, we believe this is a narrow point of view. Your data is at risk at all times, whether you’re using pen and paper, data on local computers, or a fully digital system in the cloud. Physical data can be lost in fires and floods. Intruders can still gain access to your company’s private network.
Therefore, in many ways, going digital minimizes some risks while creating new ones. Fortunately, there are safeguards that you can put in place to strengthen your cyber security. However, you have to understand the new risks that arise when going digital.
Vulnerabilities and Solutions for a Digital Environment
When your company goes digital, several changes occur. First, you will need to rely on modern cloud-based software for data management and analytics. The goal of digitalization is to be able to extrapolate valuable insights from all of your company’s data. Therefore, this also means that your data must be centralized. You cannot have data dispersed across dozens of company computers. Instead, you’ll need to consolidate your files on cloud servers to facilitate access worldwide.
However, that increased access does pose a threat. Your employees will have increased access to data, which means that their credentials become exceedingly valuable. Learning an employee’s password could give a criminal access to a significant amount of your company’s data. Nevertheless, you can mitigate the potential damage of a data breach by wisely controlling file access. You can also minimize the chances of a breach ever occurring by taking some precautions once you understand the risks you face.
Centralized Data Risks
Centralizing your data is essential to reap the benefits of digitalization. Nevertheless, putting all of your data in one place makes for an enticing opportunity for criminals. Data breaches can lead to expensive fines from regulators in addition to potential lawsuits from affected customers, not to mention the impact they can have on your company’s reputation. Recovering from massive data breaches can cost millions. Prevention is always the best approach.
How do criminals get access to your data? The most common way is by acquiring an employee’s credentials and using them to access your data directly. This presents a quandary. You can limit employees’ access to data to minimize risk, but that also limits their potential to use data for the company’s benefit. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to bolster your cyber security without sacrificing productivity.
Solution: Controlling Access
First of all, your company should create user profiles that limit access to data they have no business touching. There is no reason for a machinist to be able to access the entire customer database, for instance. Still, there will always be some staff with high-level access. How can you protect their credentials? Two-factor authentication is one of the best ways to control access to your systems. Employees can confirm all logins with their own mobile devices.
If a cybercriminal obtains an employee’s credentials, then the employee would get a notification when the criminal attempts to log in. They could deny access immediately and prevent a breach. From there, they should report this situation to whoever is in charge of cyber security and change their credentials. Getting this correct response from your staff can be difficult. In fact, your employees are often your biggest vulnerability.
One of the challenges of going digital is getting employees ready to use new technology. We have all worked with someone who was not very technically inclined. Most people don’t understand the cyber security risks that companies face and may not understand why certain precautions need to be taken. It’s important to communicate these risks to your team and help them grasp the seriousness of the situation. Training is vital if you are to keep your company safe.
The majority of data breaches occur when an employee unknowingly gives their credentials away, downloads a harmful email attachment, or simply leaves a device open with their account logged in. These problems have increased in frequency since work-at-home became more common in 2020. Furthermore, employees may be reluctant to report a potential cyber attack because they may be concerned about being punished, or they simply want to avoid looking foolish. The solution is training.
Solution: Educating Employees
Education is essential if you want your employees to understand proper protocols and how to respond to cyber incidents. While you can offer classes and training sessions to your employees, you also have to put them to the test. An excellent way to build cyber security defense capacity is to attempt to trick your own employees. Send dubious emails soliciting access credentials and emails with suspicious attachments, then see who falls victim to the deception.
By using this method, you can create an environment where failure becomes a learning experience. When an employee fails one of these tests, it reaffirms the importance of other cyber security training initiatives. It is also usually enough to scare employees into taking extra precautions.
Software Providers Create Vulnerabilities
Digital companies rely on third-party software for many of their essential services. Your business, for instance, might pay for a customer relationship management tool, sales management software, virtual phone service, and cloud storage just to name a few. All of these tools will have access to your data, which means that they could serve as an access point for criminals. Regardless, you need these services to perform business functions and capture more data.
While you should vet companies that you intend to work with and examine their cyber security track record, even sterling companies can become victims of data breaches themselves. The SolarWinds hack is an excellent example of how a hack on a third party can affect all of its clients. How can you mitigate these risks when you have no control over what third parties do?
Solution: Monitoring Software
By using software that monitors activity on your network, you can detect unusual behavior regardless of where it comes from. Cyber security monitoring tools track how your staff and software interact with your files. Over time, it becomes very adept at recognizing normal patterns of behavior. Unusual behavior then stands out and can be stopped immediately.
Although this may lead to the occasional false alarm when an employee accesses files that they normally wouldn’t, it’s much better to have to ask for permission from time to time than to have a data breach.
The Best Solution: Outside Support
As you can see, there are a variety of ways that cybercriminals can attack your company. Going digital is a necessity, but you must also be prepared to defend yourself against new threats. With a digital transformation expert at your side, you can accomplish both goals.
To learn how to secure your business with the best technology, contact us today. We can help you transform your business and keep it safe from intruders.