Cyber security should be as much about value as protection

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Written by Simon Whitburn, Senior Vice President Cyber Security Services at Nominet

One of the core challenges of any modern company is securing their organisation from cyber attacks.

It’s a thankless task. Cyber threats are increasing rapidly – instances leapt 38% between 2016 and 2018 – and the cost to businesses worldwide is expected to reach $2 trillion by 2019. And attacks are getting harder to detect as they become more sophisticated and persistent. It’s easy to see why enterprises may be tempted to withdraw behind the corporate perimeter and keep valuable data and systems under lock and key.

Security vs. openness

The problem with this approach is that it runs counter to the prevailing trends of digital business: data-centricity, openness and collaboration. As enterprises transform into digital businesses and shift to API-enabled, partner-ecosystem based business models, overly restrictive cyber security technologies and processes threaten to act as a roadblock to innovation. If organisations are to achieve successful digital transformations they need a cybersecurity strategy that both protects sensitive data and enables agility, collaboration and responsiveness.

Part of this shift is cultural. Cyber security is all too often seen through the prism of fear, uncertainty and doubt: organisations are worried by the huge brand damage that can result from a successful hack, or the potentially crippling data loss fines mandated by regulations such as GDPR. Instead, enterprises and their IT departments should think of cyber investments as growth and innovation enablers.

Value is at stake

Importantly, some business leaders now understand the potential of cybersecurity systems as a growth driver and a strategic differentiator. For example, a PWC study found that 87% of global CEOs say they are investing in cybersecurity to build trust with customers. I believe it is likely these businesses are experiencing the most success in digital transformation and are best positioned to unlock new value. And there’s a lot of it at stake: the cybersecurity market is projected to be worth over $248 billion by 2023.

So, what can businesses do to centre their cyber security strategy around growth and innovation enablement? I think there are three key steps that every organisation should take:

  1. Address your budgets and resource for the future: is your cyber security strategy funded by your IT budget or your innovation/digital transformation budget? You should bring these together and ensure that project teams are combined. You need a mix of core IT skills and people experienced in enabling digital business models. A mindset focused on driving collaborative innovation rather than ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ is also a must.
  2. Be secure AND open: Organisations need to ensure partners, employees and customers can access relevant systems and data as required. To do this securely, IT teams should inspect traffic flowing in and out the enterprise through the Domain Name System (DNS) layer. By protecting this gateway between the enterprise and the rest of the world, businesses will be able to pick up on malware, phishing and data exfiltration attacks while remaining open for business.
  3. Find the right partners: Understandably, some organisations might still find the risk of cyber attacks too high to countenance a more innovation-centric approach. However, these businesses risk falling behind competitors that embrace value-led cyber security strategies. In this case, organisations should look for partners with the requisite experience in cyber security to help them transform. For some organisations taking cyber security tools as managed services might prove the best fit as the approach can free their internal teams to focus on innovation and growth enablement, safe in the knowledge they are protected.

There’s no getting away from the fact that cyber security needs to be a priority for all organisations. But this should not be at the cost of innovation and growth. In the age of digital disruption, I strongly believe success will belong to companies that embrace a growth-led approach to cyber security – make sure that yours is numbered among them.

Originally posted here

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