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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Agenda - 4 Strategies to Make Cybersecurity a Business Priority

CEO Agenda

4 Strategies to Make Cybersecurity a Business Priority

More business moving online means unprecedented cybersecurity threats, and companies that prioritized cybersecurity as a vital business function were better able to handle the transition. Several major cybersecurity trends have emerged over the past year, including greater cloud adoption and increased need for comprehensive threat management. To better navigate the new normal 4 Strategies to Make Cybersecurity a Business Priority, take these four steps to ensure a robust cybersecurity framework that will ensure your business’s health.

The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented cybersecurity threats and challenges to enterprises around the globe. As a result, many companies are rightly realizing that cybersecurity transformation will be key to business enablement and business resilience.

Bad actors historically take advantage of times of chaos, and the pandemic provided quite the opportunity. Large-scale breaches increased 273% in first-quarter 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019, costing companies billions in interruptions and ransoms. According to Wipro’s State of Cybersecurity Report 2020, 70% of organizations struggled to maintain endpoint cyber hygiene during the initial stages of the pandemic outbreak, which compounded the problem of defending against the new cyber threats.

Many factors opened the door to increased phishing, ransomware, and island-hopping activity. Lack of employee awareness of security risks poses the greatest threat to information security. When newly remote employees connected various devices to VPNs and networks, often without proper cyber hygiene priorities, it resulted in endpoint devices becoming attack vectors and opened the door to increased threats against the organization. IT, OT, and IoT convergence without appropriate control enforcement has increased the threat landscape significantly. Companies that prioritized cybersecurity as a vital business function were better able to handle the transition.

Cybersecurity and other IT professionals rose to meet the challenge, and the responses have given rise to several major trends. How has cybersecurity changed? The following key areas have shown some of the most accelerated changes during the pandemic:

  • Cloud adoption:Companies began embracing cloud-based solutions more than ever before. Spurred by the need for boundaryless and scalable environments among remote workers, companies are migrating significant workloads to the cloud. Wipro’s State of Cybersecurity Report 2020 highlights that 87% of the organizations plan to scale up through secure cloud migration.
  • Need for more comprehensive threat management:As companies transformed end users’ IT environments to be accessible remotely, security incidents spiked. The need for secure access management and continuous control monitoring became abundantly apparent.
  • Cognitive solutions in artificial intelligence and machine learning: Once end users transitioned to remote work, it became increasingly difficult for companies to monitor for abnormal activities. Rule-based monitoring couldn’t accurately account for new threats in cybersecurity, and many companies were only able to detect threats well after the threat already had an impact. AI and ML-aided tools have allowed companies to analyze, detect, and respond to emerging threats in real time.

Of course, COVID-19 isn’t entirely responsible for these evolutions in cybersecurity, but the pandemic has certainly changed a few of the rules and accelerated other areas. Companies that embrace these cybersecurity trends will be more prepared to thrive in a post-COVID world.

Strategies That Allow Cybersecurity to Lead Business Enablement

As cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important and intricate in a more digital world, companies will need to embrace cybersecurity as a vital business function. Cybersecurity should be treated as a driving force behind successful digital transformation. Here are four steps to making sure your cybersecurity framework is robust and adds value to your company as a whole as you navigate the new normal.

  1. Make cybersecurity a business priority with integrated risk management.
    Many people think cybersecurity is only an IT issue, which is made worse by the reality that most IT departments act in silos. To be clear, cybersecurity is a business problem and a vital consideration in business risk decisions. One of the biggest lessons of the pandemic is that IT and cyber functions can and should be thought of as business enablers.In order for cybersecurity to be an asset instead of a resource drain, it must be viewed as an important part of a company’s holistic value. The top priority for the future of cybersecurity should be to realign demands and investments to enable business resilience.

    As air gaps between IT, OT, IoT, cloud, big data, and extended enterprises are no longer viable, organizations must adopt a business-focused and converged cyber strategy through integrated risk management. However, this has to be a top-down approach from the C-suite or board. The moment these leaders align on an integrated risk management strategy, your organization can undergo a holistic digital transformation wherein IT and cybersecurity affect the success of the organization.

  2. Enforce continuous monitoring, leaning on cognitive-based solutions.
    Our State of Cybersecurity research found that 39% of organizations have dealt with a significant cyber incident sometime during the past three years. It can take six to eight months to identify a breach. The earlier a threat is identified, the less impact it will have on the business. Cognitive-based cybersecurity solutions enhance and might ultimately replace the current rule-based solutions such as security information and event management. Automation aided by AI and ML can monitor, identify threats, detect unusual behavior, and respond to those threats. Investment in automation and monitoring using AI and ML would amplify continuous control monitoring.
  3. Adopt a zero-trust framework.
    Traditional VPNs, weak points in existing access management solutions, and access expansion in critical business systems have greatly increased the risk of malicious activity during the pandemic. A zero-trust framework, as well as cyber hygiene priorities, can minimize those risks by providing adaptive and identify-aware controls.Zero-trust frameworks require more granular security systems around end users, various devices, OT, cloud assets, and networks. Some important factors to enable zero trust include integrated policy enforcement, micro-segmentation, and behavior analytics.
  4. Embrace hybrid cloud security
    Limitations in infrastructure and applications impacted businesses during the crises as companies had to adapt to new ways of working. To enable a boundaryless enterprise and address issues around scalability, public cloud adoption and cloud-based as-a-service delivery models spiked.Secure hybrid cloud architecture will be critical due to differing maturity levels of security services offered by cloud service providers. Cloud protection platforms will evolve to provide a unified risk visibility across hybrid cloud environment with an integrated security architecture, centralized policy enforcement, and orchestrated security management.

The future of cybersecurity is a vital cog in a healthy business, and cybersecurity teams must prove their worth by adding value to businesses through risk reduction and enhanced security. The pandemic has shown the world that cybersecurity can no longer be treated as an afterthought and that companies will be all the stronger for it.

Written by Sudheesh Babu, head of strategy and M&A for Cybersecurity and Risk Services practice at Wipro (NYSE: WIT).
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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Agenda - 4 Strategies to Make Cybersecurity a Business Priority
Sudheesh Babu
Sudheesh Babu is the head of strategy and M&A for Cybersecurity and Risk Services practice at Wipro (NYSE: WIT). He has more than 25 years of governance, risk, and compliance consulting experience. Sudheesh is a regular speaker at various international security and risk management events. Prior to joining Wipro, Sudheesh worked with Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers in the risk management and audit management domains. Sudheesh Babu is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on LinkedIn.