Mark Kerrison
Mark Kerrison
NNT - New Net Technologies

The past decade has undoubtedly seen an unprecedented emergence of digital transformation across the globe. We’ve been introduced to game-changing innovations across a variety of areas, fundamentally changing the way we communicate, travel, work, exercise and so on.

For enterprises in particular, the benefits are manifold - improved collaboration, employee engagement, innovation, extraction of key insights from captured data, and so much more. It’s no surprise recent studies indicate that digital transformation spend is predicted to reach a whopping $2.3 trillion by 2023.

While transformative technologies have helped businesses thrive and scale at speeds we’ve hardly seen before, there’s also a dark and challenging side to adopting them.

CISO Challenges

While transformative technologies have helped businesses thrive and scale at speeds we’ve hardly seen before, there’s also a dark and challenging side to adopting them.

According to the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2019, cybercrime is one of the most significant strategic risks facing businesses today. Organizations across the world are making it a priority to implement a well-rounded security strategy across all networks, applications and data to consistently shield them from potential attacks.

Top 4 Cybersecurity Challenges Faced by CISOs

The Expanding Role of the CISO: The role of the CISO has evolved to become more strategic and business-focused. This comprises key responsibilities such as designing a security strategy that aligns with the overall business strategy, ensuring that information security policies are being updated constantly, developing employee education and awareness programs, creating a robust information security risk management framework (which we discuss further below), planning ongoing reviews and assessments to ensure that they’re able to effectively address any gaps the business may have across information security, IT risk management and compliance.

Shortage of Cybersecurity Talent: According to Global Snapshot: The CISO in 2020, 62% of CISOs think the global cybersecurity talent shortage will get worse over the next five years. This leaves most CISOs struggling to have the right size cybersecurity workforce to ensure that their organization is secure.

Increasingly Complex Compliance and Regulatory Requirements: Yet another concern that tops the list of CISO concerns is ensuring that they’re able to meet existing regulations as well as new laws that are bound to be passed, even as concerns regarding privacy and data breaches grow more complex everyday. These regulations will further complicate organizational requirements in meeting new standards - business leaders will have to ensure that they are effective at assessing risks and stay abreast of company data - in terms of its usage, processing and measures being taken to protect it.

Emerging Technologies Posing Threat to Cybersecurity: As business leaders adopt progressive digital technologies to address customer demands, further their bottom line and facilitate rapid growth, they also attract associated security risks every day. In recently speaking to CIOs and CISOs about their cybersecurity concerns, we identified that these four technologies are transforming how we deal with global cybersecurity today and will continue to have an impact for at least the next ten years.

  • Quantum Computing: On the one hand, quantum computing opens a wide realm of new possibilities - including the formulation of new drugs and medical treatments, increasing supply chain efficiency, and surprisingly, even improving cybersecurity. However, due to its exponential speed, a quantum computer, despite its promise of transforming legacy applications and processes, may wreak havoc on IT security with its exponential speed. A quantum computer can be weaponized to be used to hack codes and render online cryptocurrency transactions vulnerable.
  • Artificial Intelligence: AI has given us the all-knowing Siri and the unbelievable ease of self-driving cars. In enterprises, AI has tremendous scope for eliminating bandwidth spent for routine tasks, rapidly increasing productivity and generating transformative insights. However, AI can and is predicted to be used in sinister ways we may have never seen before - highly targeted criminal applications designed to cause extensive impact, across various areas, including but not limited to biotech, healthcare, mobility and so on.
  • Machine Learning: Even as machine learning is being used to handle threats preemptively, it’s also being weaponized to further amplify the impact of those threats. As ML becomes more advanced, it can (and has been) used to mimic and distort audio and video to facilitate cyber-attacks.
  • Internet of Things: Several IoT devices are known to have vulnerabilities that allow criminals easy remote access via the internet, while others have found to have weak password mechanisms. Accessing one vulnerable IoT device also puts other devices that are connected to the same network at risk.

How CXOs Can Navigate Cybersecurity Challenges

As organizations diligently work towards protecting their organizations from cybersecurity breaches, there is increasing pressure on CISOs, CROs, and CIOs to create highly robust security programs. Not only do they need to be doubly prepared to manage digital risks, but while doing so they also need to consider people, process and technology. Existing programs should be reviewed and altered to become digital business enablers without compromising the organization’s cybersecurity posture. Further, it’s critical to ensure that existing employee practices in the organization are evolved to address cybersecurity threats

Recommendations to Consider When Developing your Cybersecurity Strategy

Leverage Emerging Technologies: There are several new innovations that are changing the way enterprises now deal with security problems - blockchain, cloud computing, machine learning, advanced authentication and built-in encryption. Consider these technologies and their extensive benefits to see how your organization can adopt them for robust security.

Introduce the Right Framework: We recommend adopting a best practice cybersecurity framework such as the CIS Controls. The first six CIS Controls, which have more to do with operational controls than they do security controls, are the most critical to implement and manage.

John Gilligan (CEO of Center for Internet Security), in his testimony to the United States Senate confirmed that the majority of security incidents occur when basic controls are lacking or are poorly implemented. The first six CIS Controls, often referred to as the Basic CIS Controls, have been assessed as preventing up to 90% of pervasive and dangerous cyber-attacks:  Inventory and Control of Hardware Assets, Inventory and Control of Software Assets, Continuous Vulnerability Management, Controlled Use of Administrative Privileges, Secure Configuration for Hardware and Software on Mobile Devices, Laptops, Workstations and Servers, and Maintenance, Monitoring and Analysis of Audit Logs.

If you’re looking to draft an approach to build your security foundation and want to know how you can automate the CIS Controls, please download our Essential Guide to the CIS Controls.

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