The Stack Archive Article

Icebergs & Tsunamis

Thu 28 Apr 2016

The hidden risks of digital transformation

Digital transformation (DX) is critical in order for businesses to compete in today’s lightening-paced economy. Yet just 27% of organizations have a coherent strategy on how to create customer value as a digital business.

By its very nature, DX is about more than just incremental improvement. It’s a wholesale reimagining of the way in which technology serves the needs of the business, enabling new ways of working, innovating and serving customers.

But if the network is to change so dramatically, so too must the way we look at security.

In the past the enterprise adopted a fortress mentality: Build strong walls around the network perimeter and update it every year during the annual security review.

But how can that apply when the perimeter expands and contracts virtually, continuously and in real-time? And when new users, new devices, new services and new locations join the network, are added or removed all the time.

It is the digital equivalent of trying to build a brick wall around tidal waters; without knowing if the tide is in or out, and without a tsunami warning system.

At the same time, networks are becoming more complex, with multiple cloud providers and geographically dispersed technologies and hardware. And the wider the network, the larger the potential attack surface.

 

The hidden danger

Cyberattacks can take just seconds to breach a network, but days, weeks, months or even years to discover. And as the frequency of such attacks increases – not to mention the frequent changes to the network composition – the human element in security is too slow and is being left behind.

The bits and bytes of your data are like icebergs: most of it is hidden below the surface. Without clear visibility on the data that flows across, in and outside of your network, you can’t even begin to secure it. Once you’ve figured out the size, shape and scope of the iceberg, then you can figure out how to address it.

A one-size fits all solution doesn’t work – attempting to apply the same rules to every single piece of data is expensive and inefficient. Instead you need to understand what data is important to your business, where it is, and what the impact would be if it were compromised.

As we argue in our latest infopaper, digital transformation requires a data-centric approach to security. By setting rules on how different kinds of data should be treated, you can not only enjoy a high level of automation, but you can begin to look for anomalies.

Security is evolving from an annual threat assessment to a process of constant, real-time scanning. The result is that many organizations are realizing they just don’t have the skills they need and, at a time, when IT is being increasingly outsourced, they may not wish to invest the time and resources in developing them.

Working with third parties such as Verizon with core competency across all three pillars of DX – network, cloud and security – is crucial to building a successful strategic architecture and achieving your digital transformation objectives.

 

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