Guest blog post by David Balaban with Privacy PC
Digital transformation (DT) is an innovative process that requires fundamental changes in industrial technologies, society, culture, the financial sector, and the principles of creating new products and services.
In fact, this is not just a set of IT products and solutions to be deployed in companies, but a global revision of approaches and business strategies carried out with the help of information technology. Digital transformation is a transition period leading us to the next industrial revolution.
Not all companies are ready for the new and rather stringent requirements that digital transformation imposes on them, namely, for a complete modernization of business methods, revision of internal business processes, and new types of relationships within the company. Moreover, top managers must be prepared for both the positive and negative consequences of digital transformation.
Digital transformation is not just the automation and digitalization of production processes. It is the integration of conventional office and industrial technologies that we use on a daily basis, with completely new IT-specific areas (cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, etc.).
Possible negative side effects of digital transformation
The revolutionary changes that the DT brings to the business have generated certain problems for information security services. New vectors of information security threats have emerged and the range of vulnerabilities potentially leading to cyberattacks has expanded.
The currently popular approach called DevOps is a subject of special concern to information security specialists. It fundamentally changes the relationship between software developers, system administrators, technical services, and end-users.
I would also like to note that one of the major obstacles to the rapid implementation of digital transformation in companies is the old (legacy) technologies that have been serving production and office processes for many years. On the one hand, they cannot be replaced quickly (without stopping business processes). On the other hand, they do not fit well into digital transformation processes and carry multiple information security threats.
Digital transformation cybersecurity problems
1. The opacity of cybersecurity events in the corporate infrastructure
In large companies, several different types of cloud services are widely used. They are all equipped with their own cybersecurity tools and various internal services. However, there are still a lot of problems, both with the integration of such solutions and with the transparency and recording of all security incidents in such a complex IT structure. Moreover, digital transformation implies significant growth of both cloud solutions and the complexity of corporate infrastructure due to the introduction of IoT, blockchain, AI, etc.
2. Problems associated with the automating cybersecurity processes
In most companies, and even in large companies, many information security processes remain non-automated. However, the employees of the cybersecurity departments of such companies are confident that the protection works against all possible attack vectors, both inside the perimeter and in the clouds, on mobile devices, web servers, etc.
Firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other security solutions still provide a certain level of security in certain areas and reduce the number of information security incidents. However, without developing a general strategy and security policy, there will certainly be cybersecurity problems in the future.
3. Integration of security solutions
Most organizations have huge problems with the integration of various infosec solutions. There is no end-to-end visibility of all threats. The situation is also bad in terms of compliance and the requirements of regulators.
4. Flexible scaling
Security experts have found that with many enterprises, a quarter of the corporate infrastructure remains unprotected. Even if the company has effective solutions that protect its IT infrastructure, then in general, this does not increase the overall level of security in the organization due to poor integration and scalability of these individual solutions. As the IT infrastructure grows, due to digital transformation, as well as due to the complexity of cyberattacks, there is a need for scalability of cybersecurity solutions.
At the moment, the biggest problem for cybersecurity professionals is complex polymorphic cyberattacks, targeted cyberattacks (APT – advanced persistent threat), as well as the growing use of DevOps, which increases the risk of untimely discovery of new vulnerabilities.
5. Software updates
Although we need to constantly update all software, there are still dangerous threats associated with updating software, since sometimes, along with “patches” and “updates,” malicious software can also be installed if your vendor was hacked.
Building an effective security strategy for the digital transformation
DT can be used both for positive changes in society and for causing threats to global stability and security. The so-called “cyber weapon” is an example here. In order to determine the security strategy of your business and public administration systems during the constantly growing instability, you need to understand what “security” is.
The very concept of security is divided into three large groups: personal, public, and state.
Personal security is a state when a person is protected from any type of violence (for example, psychological, physical, etc.)
Public safety is the ability of social institutions to protect individuals and society from various types of threats (mainly internal).
State security is a system for protecting the state from external and internal threats.
Another important area of security is cybersecurity and information protection. The goal of cybersecurity specialists is to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, availability. These three key principles of cybersecurity are called the CIA Triad:
- Confidentiality is the property of information to be closed to unauthorized persons.
- Integrity is preserving the correctness and completeness of data.
- Availability is the property of information to be available and ready for use at the request of an authorized person\resource.
The main goal of cybersecurity (in the context of digital transformation) is to ensure the security of both data and IT infrastructure from accidental or deliberate threats that can cause unacceptable damage.
Today SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) systems are gaining more and more popularity. Their main task is to monitor corporate systems and analyze security events in real-time, including AI and deep machine learning.
Large technology companies that lead in the area of digital transformation are much more likely than others to integrate their products and information security tools into a single corporate security architecture. It should be noted that such companies give preference to a strategic approach and the formation of a security policy, which allows:
- Quickly detect threats and promptly respond to them.
- Provide high-quality protection of data assets.
- Have a transparent technological environment for detecting threats.
Leaders of digital transformation, as a rule, are more willing to automate cybersecurity processes in their companies. It is much more effective than manual monitoring of threats, which was used everywhere before the period of DT. A positive example of this automation and integrated approach is the implementation of the Security Operations Center (SOC). However, it should be borne in mind that setting up the automation of all work processes requires plenty of testing time and the need to attract competent specialists.
One of the features of cybersecurity in the era of digital transformation is the process of introducing the means of centralized control of compliance issues (both industrial standards and IT and security standards.) It increases the efficiency of both security measures and compliance efforts.
One of the major obstacles on the way to digital transformation is the need to ensure a high level of cybersecurity, which is not always possible to achieve by most companies, especially in the SMB sector.
At the same time, it is necessary to take into account the growth factors of both internal and external cybersecurity threats associated with significant growth of the cybercrime sector, as well as risks arising naturally during the implementation of the DevOps, cloud technologies, IoT, etc.
Below are best cybersecurity practices that I can recommend to companies during the digital transformation process:
- Build a unified security architecture that will provide centralized IT infrastructure management and transparency of all information security events.
- Develop the company’s security policy and strategy for protecting the corporate network.
- Implement built-in controls to comply with standards and regulatory requirements.
- Use methods of both preventive and proactive protection.