The pandemic has impacted so many facets of life over the past 18 months. In the business and technology world, perhaps its main effect has been to press the accelerator on digital transformation in organizations across the globe.
Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements. It has been on the agenda for many businesses for years now, but the pandemic has increased the urgency significantly.
Bringing automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to the workplace as part of digital transformation has many benefits. Still, it does also serve to make the cybersecurity environment more complex and challenging than ever. Addressing digital transformation has become a priority for businesses, but as they embark on such ambitious programs, how can they ensure they stay secure in the face of a complex cyber threat landscape?
The challenges of digital transformation and cybersecurity
Digital transformation in business has been brought about partly because of the compelling digital experiences offered by Amazon and other consumer brands. People are able to interact seamlessly and quickly and expect a similar experience at work, meaning organizations have had to digitalize their processes and systems at both the backend and frontend.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, this accelerated sharply. Much of the world began working from home, and there was little face-to-face engagement. Almost immediately, organizations had to offer an almost entirely digital experience. This was just about achievable, but they also had to be mindful of the additional cybersecurity challenges of digitalization.
Fortra's research with Financial Services (FS) CISOs in Q4 2020 revealed the extent of this task. Digital transformation was named the number one challenge in FS both now and in three years, and it is likely to be a similar situation in other industries.
The evolving cyber threat landscape
Alongside the need for digital transformation, the cyber threat has grown more complex, targeted, professional, and potentially damaging than ever. The volume of threats is astounding – in the Fortra research, 65% of FS firms said they had been the victim of a cyber-attack in the preceding 12 months – but it is the variety that can be overwhelming for cybersecurity teams.
Ransomware is a threat that changes and evolves constantly, and this summer is seeing an increase in the volume of social engineering lures. The rise of IoT is very much connected with digital transformation, and as the number of devices connected to corporate networks increases, so does the potential threat. IoT security is increasingly on the agenda of cybersecurity teams, and when you factor in nation-state attacks, targeted data breaches, insider threats, increasing supply chain risk, and more, it is clear that keeping organizations secure is a bigger task than ever.
So much so that cybersecurity has been recognized at the highest level of the U.S. government. The Biden administration recently announced a significant step in addressing cybersecurity, launching a 30-page Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity covering most of the critical issues.
Assess your unique cybersecurity needs
Different industries are at varying stages of maturity with digital transformation, and within each sector, some organizations have progressed much quicker than others. Therefore, it is vital to assess what your organization's specific cybersecurity requirements are as it continues along the digital transformation path.
Each sector will have bespoke regulation that makes different requirements of data – the EU Medical Device Regulation in MedTech, MiFID II in FS, for example – and there is also more general data regulation such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
That means it has never been more important to work with a provider that suits your specific needs but can also cover a wide range of use cases. Fortra has a wide range of best-in-class cybersecurity solutions to help keep any organization secure and ensure protection against a variety of threats. With data security such a priority as organizations continue digital transformation, the Clearswift solutions in this area assume even greater importance.
2025 and digital transformation
There is no fixed date by which organizations should have completed their digital transformation. But time is ticking, and many organizations are looking to 2025 as a time by when they should have completed the journey. That's an ambitious but achievable timescale but will not be accepted if the period has been beset by constant cybersecurity attacks and data breaches – organizations must stay secure while undertaking digital transformation.
It is also true that once digital transformation targets have been met, it does not mean that the cyber threat is reduced. Organizations must be constantly aware of what is going on in the market and be prepared to adapt to new policies, regulations, and threats.
Digital transformation is of the highest importance for organizations that wish to stay relevant in the future, but equally, cybersecurity cannot be compromised.