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A CISOs Guide to Digital Transformation


For CISOs and practitioners in cybersecurity, using digital technology to supplement current organizational cybersecurity objectives can be complicated. But as we get deeper into the digital age, these technologies’ need only becomes more amplified. The task of enabling the company to have an effective digital transformation initiative does not have to be complicated. To help ease developing and enabling a digital transformation strategy, we have created a guide for any sized organization or business model to become successful in their digital transformation efforts. As the need for digitization grows stronger every day, the need to adopt an integrated risk management approach grows. Utilizing integrated risk management as a mode for executing your business’ digital transformation initiatives can help streamline this process.

To effectively support the organization through a digital transformation initiative, risk and compliance teams must recognize the need to evolve. An organization undergoing a digital transformation simply cannot ensure effective cybersecurity program management by aggregating risk and cybersecurity posture into spreadsheets. Automating much of the assessment process by using the data already in their existing tech using integrations supports both a dynamic program and a post-digital transformation organization.

In doing so, the company can look at its risk in an understandable way to anybody within the organization. Furthermore, an integrated risk management approach and solution can enable security teams to absorb and manage the risks that arise from some of the most common digital transformation initiatives and technologies. This includes digital components like Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), cloud data, social media, and big data; but also, third-party technologies like operational technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT).

A Security First Approach to the Most Common Digital Transformation Technologies

AI and Machine Learning

When in the process of a digital business transformation, leveraging AI and ML can have far-reaching impacts on the organization. Where AI and ML algorithms can process data and deliver insights at a blistering pace, the risk of tampering with the core model can skew results and, in turn, have ripple effects across the whole business. The response to these challenges is ensuring that the AI models are effectively protected.

For example, in the case of utilizing AI in conjunction with an integrated risk management approach, this powerful combination can save time, energy, and resources across cybersecurity teams by aggregating data from existing tech stacks and presenting them in a digestible way, this also enables the organization to focus on business processes towards achieving compliance instead of fiddling with siloed and segmented information. Fortunately, an integrated risk management solution like CyberStrong supports this.

Social Media

Social Media is often overlooked as a potential risk. Maintaining a security focus when adopting and prioritizing social media in the marketing mix is critical. Social media’s power is still being understood by many organizations today; from a misquote to a leak, social media plays an influential role in society. Managing social media risk can help mitigate potential vulnerabilities that may affect your organization’s reputation, legal, and market risk.

For example, a bad actor who gains access to an organization's social media accounts can perpetrate fraud under the brand’s guise. This can potentially result in the loss of intellectual property belonging to the organization, financial loss from reputational damage, and privacy violations should sensitive information be breached or distributed. Ensure that anyone with access to these channels are securing their accounts effectively (multi-factor authentication, etc.) and ensure that there are proper policies and procedures to ensure that the social channels stay curated and moving the brand forward.

Big Data

Using big data to guide a digital transformation is essential. For some organizations, the first step is setting up the infrastructure to collect that data, and in other cases, it is using AI and ML to put that data to work. The more data to provide insight into business goals, the easier it is to garner support from the Board.

For example, using big data to undergo a digital transformation with the supply chain can provide data on how materials, goods and informational assets are moving through the supply chain, allowing for improvements in distribution, manufacturing, logistics, and sales. The most important element to bear in mind through its process is ensuring data integrity. Should an outside actor co-op the data storage or pipelines, they could potentially alter that data to either misinform the organization resulting in misplaced investments or worse. Ensure that as the organization collects more data, it is stored and moved in a secure fashion to ensure that it is accurate.

Internet of Things

As more and more organizations adopt “smart” objects (from Amazon’s Alexa in meeting rooms to more complex connected hardware suited for a given industry), keeping a security focus amidst this digital transformation area is vital.

Keeping in mind the risks surrounding these new devices, and knowing that they behave and carry more risks akin to a laptop rather than a meter box, helps both security teams and the organization understand how to manage these new devices. As a security leader, it is paramount to help educate teams that may see these new technologies through rose-colored glasses before they see the risks of a bad actor gaining access to them. In the case of a smart speaker in a meeting room, this could result in something equivalent to wiretapping or in the case of a more industrial IoT device, completely cutting off the flow of data or shutting the devices off completely. Ensure to enact policies for devices that can access sensitive networks and organizational smart devices.

Cloud Data

A major step for most information-driven organizations in their digital transformation journey is the shift to cloud data. The benefits of storing data in the cloud are myriad. For example, allowing for advanced backup management processes superior to traditional methods when maintained continuously, using a service for cloud data storage comes with a new configuration of risks - especially as it relates to vendor risk. As the security leader, if the organization is adopting cloud technology work very closely with vendor risk management teams to assess cloud partners to ensure that the organization’s data stays secure.

Keeping a security focus when undergoing a digital transformation can save your security teams valuable time, energy, and resources while allowing you to increase productivity as your cybersecurity posture grows and develops. If you have any questions about Digital Transformation, Integrated Risk Management, or how CyberStrong can help bolster your organization’s cybersecurity business strategy, give us a call at 1 800 NIST CSF or click here to learn more.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). Now in its 17th year, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a month-long campaign by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (apart of the Department of Homeland Security) to raise awareness of the importance of cybersecurity for both individuals and organizations. This year’s theme “Do Your Part, #BeCyberSmart” seeks to acknowledge that especially in the rise of remote work, there is a shared responsibility to ensure that Americans stay safe and more secure online.

During this year’s NCSAM, CyberSaint is promoting the importance of cybersecurity in the face of digital transformation efforts. With more organizations than ever seeking to digitize their businesses, organizations must ensure that they are protecting their part of cyberspace as well as their employees and customer to be safer and more secure online.

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