By Ignus de Villiers, Executive: Cybersecurity at Nexio
In the digital era, the expression that the only constant is change has never been more true. Businesses no longer have the luxury of taking a “wait and see” approach towards new technologies, and are having to become more agile as a result. This is driving digital transformation agendas and strategies across every industry and sector.
Unfortunately, the same dynamics that are enabling today’s always-connected business environment are bringing with them a greater number of threats. The digital landscape has never been more exciting, or more dangerous. As the attacks facing companies increase in scope and severity, cyber security should be prioritised by organisations of all sizes, not added as an afterthought.
This happens far too frequently as companies grapple with new technologies and their use cases. The speed with which digital transformation initiatives happen – and the rapid change they bring with them – should not be underestimated, and all new projects, technologies and initiatives should be evaluated in light of their impact on the business, including the security implications.
A failure to do this could have unintended consequences for both business decisions and processes. Preventing and responding to cyber risks requires real-time visibility into the operating environment. This requires answering some tough questions about data and information security, made all the more complicated by the new risks being introduced by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
These include internet outages that could bring business processes to their knees, or a hijack of Internet of Things (IOT) devices that may have undesired consequences. Weaponised appliances, for example, may leave organisations powerless.
A rush to deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) may have similar unexpected outcomes. Adopting AI is not without its own risks, and companies should ask themselves what the impact would be if an attacker is able to manipulate an algorithm to alter information on which business decisions are based. AI malware is likely to amplify an attacker’s capabilities, adding another layer of complexity to an increasingly complex environment.
As 4IR technologies are increasingly deployed, regulations are becoming another minefield for organisations to navigate. Privacy regulations across borders may impede the monitoring of insider threats, and any new regulations that are introduced could increase the risk and compliance burden.
However, all of these considerations need to be superseded by a focus on data protection. This is one of the most important aspects to address as part of the digital transformation journey, as 4IR introduces new ways of owning and using data. As digital communications become ubiquitous, data will rule in a world where nearly everyone and everything is connected in real time. That will require a highly reliable, secure and available infrastructure at its core, and innovation at the edge. As a result, every organisation needs to assess and understand its data landscape before initiating the digital transformation journey.
Every evolution has its own threats and challenges, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is no exception. In order to navigate the complex risks the 4IR is bringing with it, companies much align with a partner that understands the ever-evolving threat landscape and the need to play by new cyber security rules. In a smart digital world, companies need equally smart security programmes.