What Your Organization Needs To Know To Undergo A Secure Digital Transformation

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Just about every company today is going through some type of digital transformation, whether migrating entire departments and data centers to the cloud, opting for cloud-based SaaS solutions over legacy, on-prem software, working to enable remote employees to access, share and store data, or otherwise. Whatever the transformation, whenever you change business practices to fit a digital world, pitfalls are common. You only have to look as far as the BBC’s failed £100m digital transformation project or GE’s stuttering efforts and eventual failure to see prime examples of spotlighted stumbles, and they are not alone. If they can fail, so can you.

Oddly enough, security isn’t even mentioned in regards to highly noted failure—because it probably wasn’t considered (yet). Security is an essential piece of groundwork for any type of digital transformation. Businesses that don’t lead with security as they adopt the latest technologies are missing a cornerstone. While any change is accompanied by challenges, focusing on applying new technologies to existing practices can aid a business in meeting its strategic goals. In terms of security, there are  a few basics you need to keep in mind as you work your way through your own digital transformation. Here’s what you should know going in:

Education

At the core, digital transformation involves leaving old ways behind in lieu of new ones—new behaviors, systems, methods, technologies and more. Thus, the first aspect to focus on is education. You wouldn’t expect a new employee to come on board and simply know how to do things the right way, so you shouldn’t expect existing employees to know either when the entire landscape is changing right under their feet. When you adopt a new technology, your IT team needs to be at the front line to figure out how it will integrate with your existing systems and to determine what new practices will be needed to keep systems secure.

For example, when adopting a cloud service such as Google Apps to replace a slew of legacy technologies, new security issues may appear. Do your employees understand the default sharing permissions of documents? Did their old email application do something differently that might cause confusion and open up the possibility of insecure behavior? Whatever the new system, employee education and training is imperative to avoid the security missteps that come with old employee habits and knowledge.

Upping the Threat Ante

As organizations move assets, a new threat landscape must be digested. Many SaaS products are integrated into Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, and while these cloud services work seamlessly to create a faster, more collaborative working environment, they change a business’s digital footprint. Instead of being contained to a singular network and corresponding data center housed nearby, the previous perimeter has now expanded to encompass a host of remote and mobile devices.

Expanded digital footprints are great for productivity but as organizations take on this transformation from cubicle-bound to mobile-ready, security vulnerabilities multiply. While many of the same old hacker tricks are still in play, from ransomware to botnet attacks to data breaches, there are more places for intruders to gain access, upping the threat level.

Shifting Borders

Regardless of how your organization conducts business, complete visibility is a must in today’s increasingly complex threat landscape. With ransomware, malware, data breaches, botnet attacks and a skill shortage among others items making headlines weekly, part of moving forward with a digital transformation is understanding how to include full visibility of new terrain.

Traditional data centers and office buildings are giving way to a different type of digital footprint, one that extends into Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) arenas. The outmoded security measure of a perimeter is gone. Now the perimeter exists wherever employees are.

In this modern landscape, your organization requires a security approach that provides complete visibility of your entire attack surface. This includes protecting your SaaS and IaaS services, looking at logs and using advanced analytics to find what hackers try to hide. Breach analytics provides the best protection, constantly searching your digital assets and hybrid network for any signs of trouble.

The other important part of any security solution is being able to respond quickly when signs of trouble crop up. Security professionals need access to threat intelligence and telemetry from your network, your cloud services and your servers. This allows any threats to be analyzed in real-time and will help identify any existing vulnerabilities in your security stack.

Right Solution, Right Time

The right security solution is the linchpin for any digital growth strategy. It lets leaders relax and focus on what’s important during periods of change–strategy, culture and communication. The right solution will grow with your business, scaling to ever-changing needs and user bases. Laying the right security groundwork sets organizations up for success in a secure and confident digital transformation.

Paul Kraus