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Jamie Bsales

The Insider's Guide to Cybersecurity: Digital Transformation Brings Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

Vigilance for a resilient future

Jan 15, 2024 7:00:00 PM

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In this series, in conjunction with Agile Cybersecurity Solutions (ACS, our cybersecurity testing and consulting partner), Keypoint Intelligence investigates the many facets of cybersecurity to deliver insight and strategy. Check back here often for more free information and insights to help you navigate the potentially treacherous waters of cybersecurity.

Our research into the business priorities of IT-purchase decision makers has revealed two things: Digital transformation (DX) initiatives to improve workflow processes are important, and concerns about data and document security are even more important. Fortunately, the two priorities do not have to be mutually exclusive.

The switch to digital workflows can bring significant benefits in terms of efficiency, flexibility, and employee engagement. It also introduces new cybersecurity challenges that need to be addressed proactively during the planning phase, however. Here are some key challenges to consider:

  • Increased attack surface: DX often involves expanding your digital landscape by integrating diverse technologies and platforms. This creates a larger attack surface for cybercriminals to exploit, making it easier for them to find vulnerabilities and infiltrate your systems.
  • Remote workforce vulnerabilities: With more employees working remotely, traditional perimeter security measures become less effective. Personal devices, unsecured home networks, and reliance on cloud applications introduce new entry points for attackers.
  • Data security and privacy risks: DX typically involves collecting and processing large amounts of customer data. This data needs to be securely stored, transmitted, and accessed, in compliance with privacy regulations. Failure to do so can lead to data breaches and damage your reputation.
  • Shadow IT and lack of visibility: The agility of DX processes can lead to employees using unauthorized tools and applications (so-called “shadow IT” infrastructure) to get the job done quickly. This lack of visibility into the IT environment makes it difficult detect and control all of an organization's security risks.
  • Emerging threats and vulnerabilities: Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their tactics, developing new techniques and exploiting vulnerabilities in areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Organizations must stay ahead of these threats by implementing robust measures and continuous monitoring.

And here are some tips for mitigating these challenges:

  • Conduct regular security assessments to identify and patch vulnerabilities in your systems and applications.
  • Implement access controls and data encryption that limit access to sensitive data and encrypt it both at rest and in transit.
  • Educate your employees on cybersecurity best practices, such as phishing awareness and strong password hygiene.
  • For your remote workforce, provide secure endpoints and implement VPNs for remote access.
  • Continuously monitor your network and systems for suspicious activity.
  • Keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats and trends.

To Cloud or Not to Cloud

With the migration from on-premises applications to cloud-based solutions dovetailing with the DX push, many DX solutions these days are deployed in the cloud. So that begs the question: Are cloud-based information and content solutions more secure or less secure than on-premises server-based applications? The answer is: It depends.

Cybersecurity advantages for on-prem applications include complete control over your hardware, software, and data, allowing for more tailored security measures. It can also reduce your attack surface; since your data is stored within your own infrastructure, it is less accessible to external attackers. The downsides, of course, are that your IT personnel are solely responsible for the cybersecurity of the system, and you are introducing a single point of failure (a physical disaster or security breach at your facility could impact your entire system).

The main argument in favor of a cloud-based system (assuming you use an outside hosting service) is that you gain access to very advanced security. Leading cloud providers invest heavily in security infrastructure and expertise, often exceeding what most organizations can afford on their own. That said, some IT directors are hesitant to give up control over their data and infrastructure and may also have data privacy concerns, since company data is likely to be stored in shared data centers.

Planning Is Key

With the right plan and tools in place, DX adoption does not have to bring with it additional cybersecurity headaches. By proactively addressing these challenges, organizations can ensure that their DX initiatives are successful and secure. It's also important to note that the specific challenges you face will depend on the nature of your organization, the industry you operate in, and the specific DX workflows you're implementing. A thorough risk assessment up front can help you identify your most critical vulnerabilities and prioritize your security investments. And as always, keep in mind that cybersecurity is an ongoing process, not a one-time fix. By continuously monitoring, testing, and adapting your security measures, you can build a resilient DX environment that protects your data, your customers, and your reputation.

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