Managing IT security amid rapidly transforming technologies

Any IT stakeholder within a business, organization, or enterprise is facing testing time, with respect to the changing face of data security, digital identify protection, and privacy.

On one side, the most stellar consultancies in the world are placing their bets on digital transformations across enterprises. On the other, there’s a silent dark cloud that is rapidly approaching the grounds of these aggressive transformative technology strategies.

This dark cloud is a metaphorical descriptor of the looming security vulnerabilities that are already plaguing IT-dependent enterprises, and the ones that are slated to be the biggest threats for the times to come.

Managing IT security

Within such a dynamic IT environment, with so many forces at play, the job of a CIO, IT directors, technology leads, and technology executives is to acknowledge the growing risks, and prepare to mitigate and overcome them.

Crucial to maintaining your control over enterprise IT issues is to understand the most basic factors that make cybersecurity such a monstrous headache for CIOs and CISOs. So, before anything, let’s understand why digital security is as such a monumental enterprise concern today.

Growing concerns on enterprise IT security

Managing IT security

Shift from on-premises to cloud: Not only enterprises, but also small and mid-sized businesses have increasingly adopted cloud applications, transitioning from the good old days of on-premises implementations. This means that your enterprise digital data, in most cases, is now located at a distance datacenter, along with the data of dozens of other organizations, often on the same server hardware. Result – anxiety, lack of control, exposure to larger risks.

IoT: Enterprises are on their way to inviting smart infrastructure devices such as water coolers, air-conditioning units, elevator systems, lighting equipment, and mini-robots into the realms of the routine business workday. The result – all these miniature devices are on the same network backbone as the computer terminals and server hardware of the organization. IT could struggle keeping a tab on how employees interact with these devices, making it harder to prevent any events that could leave the networks exposed to unauthorized access.

BYOD: With well showcased business benefits and enablement of remote workforce, BYOD is here to stay. What stays along, however, is the plethora of data security and privacy risks that any end-user owned and controlled devices bring. Any user device could inadvertently expose protected enterprise data on networks with weak or no firewalls. Balancing the BYOD benefit with the IT security challenges is among the biggest tasks data security officers are faced with.

Apart from this, there are other forces at play, such as the need to operate in interconnected IT ecosystem, with vendor and customer applications coming to the mix. Malevolent factors are becoming more sophisticated in their malicious cybercrime attempts. You get the idea; let’s jump forth and understand how enterprises can stay in control of IT security, even in a rapidly changing ecosystem.

Understanding the changes in IT security

Believe it, in spite of the massive facelifts witnessed by enterprises in terms of IT infrastructures and application catalogs, the probability of IT security breaches hasn’t changed much. What’s changed is the potential damage that a breach can invoke. CIOs and CISOs would do well to view the IT security challenges via the lens of cultural change and control.

The focus on IT security has to manifest itself through a bottom-up approach, where every aspect of data creation, data collection, and data access is governed by core practices and principles of complete IT security, privacy, and safety.

Central policymaking around data practices is a starting point, followed by strong IT security training and sensitization practices. Right from the newbie trainee to the CIO, all individuals need to be onboard this organizational journey toward completely secure IT.

Segmented IT security vendor applications becoming unified suites

Developments of the past decade have culminated into a reality, where enterprises invariably have multiple IT security applications, multiple vendors to manage them, and, of course, multiple governance teams to keep things in control.

The sentiment will eventually have to shift toward integration and consolidation to drive maximum benefit and synergy among otherwise disjointed applications related to single signons, multifactor authentications, firewalls, employee education in IT security, and, well, you get the picture.

Only then can the gaps left open by multiapplication-multivendor systems be filled to deliver wholesome IT security. Consolidation in identity management, particularly, is a thought process that is already resonating well with enterprise customers, and this thought process will soon expand to other security-relevant technologies.

Educate IT decision makers for better vendor negotiations

Governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) applications are going big, with vendors looking to tap into the expanding cybersecurity market. A trend being witnessed currently is centered on enterprises looking to educate themselves about technologies before making the purchase decision.

Pioneering IT vendors are tapping this trend by positioning themselves as educator-vendors, offering detailed courses and demonstrations on the viability of their technology offerings. Problems like difficulty in vendor switching, costs of switching, lack of full utilization of current application’s features, etc. have left bitter tastes in the mouths of CIOs far too often. Understanding the full capabilities, scalability, and future readiness of expensive IT security tools is the right way forward.

Key thoughts

Face it, the concept of “value” is not limited to money now. Data can be worth pounds of gold (and if you watch “Gold Rush” on Discovery Channel you will know how hard it is to find gold!) for enterprises, which is why cybercrime is at an all-time high, and expected to grow. If IT security is not already on the top of your list of strategic concerns as a CIO, it soon will be.

The smart move is to be prepared for the next wave of significant and rapid change in the whole concept of IT security, the critical security applications, and data-security practices. By understanding these drivers of change, and understanding strategic endeavors that can mitigate the effects of these drivers, you can prepare your enterprise to ride on the highways of technological advancement.

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