Cybersecurity threats to be aware of in today’s Digital Transformation age
Blog: Think Data Analytics Blog
Digital transformation – the change is real
Over the last few years, the digital transformation wave has completely remodeled the facets of business operations globally. The technology landscape that we witness today is a 10x growth of what we had envisaged a few years back.
Thanks to emerging technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and internet of things (IoT) that have played a significant role in the digital evolution.
The inevitable need for digital transformation has left businesses with no other choice but to modernize their operational models and be digital-ready.
The fear of being left behind in the race for digital readiness has undoubtedly turned the tables in the business landscape. Adding to the fear factor is the pandemic’s impact on business operations that has forced enterprises to go digital.
“At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies.” — John Chambers, Cisco
Today, several businesses have already begun their digital transformation journey, while a few are at the halfway point.
Enterprises are pretty excited to unfold the latest technologies and explore the limitless opportunities they offer. In celebrating their digital journey, businesses failed to have read the other half of the story.
Cybersecurity threats – the unnoticed disruptors
It’s important to understand that the technology evolutions have equally led to the growth of diverse cybersecurity threats in tandem.
A large number of businesses have started to encounter security threats and operational risks post their digital transformation journey —some of the significant reason for this being the quick & unstructured transformation journeys.
As digital transformation journeys were happening at a breakneck speed, businesses failed to learn about the security risks posed by the technologies, nor did they have an effective cybersecurity plan to encounter the unpredictable threats.
A few years back, Gartner reported that 60% of the digital businesses would encounter adverse service failures by 2020 owing to the lack of proper security teams/plans to manage the security threats. Unsurprisingly, the numbers have certainly increased than predicted.
According to the 2019 Marsh & McLennan survey (1,500 executive participants), 79% of them had ranked cyber-attacks as one of their top risk management priorities in 2020. Security threats aren’t something new to the digital business, but the constant technology evolutions have led to the growth of deleterious threats ranging from phishing to cloud service threats.
“As cybersecurity leaders, we have to create our message of influence because security is a culture and you need the business to take place and be part of that security culture.” — Britney Hommertzheim
Now, let us have a look at some of the serious cybersecurity threats to be cautious of in today’s digital transformation age.
- Ransomware challenges
If businesses were to list, the top 10 security threats that could cause operational disruptions – one could easily find the “ransomware threats” in it. Without a doubt, the targeted ransomware is considered one of the most common and severe security threats that could pose a lot of risks to your critical data and business operations. The ability of the ransomware malware to deny access to files and networks makes it even more dangerous. Some of the widespread ransomware that could infect the data and halt your business operations are:
Statista’s annual report on global security reveals that a total of 304 million ransomware attacks were recorded worldwide in 2020, a 62% increase from the year 2019. Hence, businesses need to combat ransomware malware by updating their business-critical applications with anti-malware features to minimize the damage.
- Threats on cloud services
The extensive adoption of cloud services by businesses in recent years has completely transformed the operational model.
As businesses started to shift to cloud-based platforms for mobility and better operational efficiency, the rise in cloud-based security threats has been a matter of concern in today’s digital age.
Adhering to an operational model where multiple applications are interconnected and hosted in a separate cloud environment, the implementation of stringent security measures has become the need of the hour. Some of the key security risks associated with cloud services are:
- cloud compliance violations
- application & infrastructure vulnerabilities
- insecure API’s
- data leaks
- identity threats
Though cloud platforms promise effective security measures and procedures to limit unauthorized access and malware, businesses are still looking for additional tools to strengthen their applications’ security.
Constant monitoring, structured data backup plans, and proper encryption will let you have complete control of your applications. Apart from these security measures, technologies like Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) and Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA) aid in bolstering your cloud security.
- Insider threats
One of the common threats reported by several mid-scale businesses today is the insider threat. Unlike the common security threats, the insider threats are hard to find and resolve as it occurs within the organization or operational structure.
These threats can either be accidental or intentional, but the business-critical information will be at high risk in both cases.
A report by Verizon in 2019 reveals that the insiders were solely responsible for 57% of the data breaches. With employees offered complete access to operations and critical information, businesses must ensure robust security procedures and guidelines to prevent malicious attacks and data breaches.
As organizations continue to adopt remote workplace models due to the pandemic, security experts have suggested that the rate of insider threats will considerably increase in the coming years.
Some of the common insider threats are:
- malicious insiders
- careless insiders
- third-party users
- inside agents
- Increasing IoT threats
The evolution of IoT has offered businesses a new lease of life with improved business insights, data analytics, and an automated work management system.
As IoT connects applications over the internet, businesses found it easy to access and control their business operations within a few clicks. But the very advantage of mobility and ease of access has also made the IoT applications more vulnerable to security threats.
As large amounts of customer data are constantly exchanged between diverse IoT applications, the possibility of data breaches is undoubtedly higher when compared to the other common threats. The interconnected network leading to vulnerable endpoints could even lead to a complete operational disruption.
Types of IoT threats
- DNS Threats
- shadow IoT
- lack of encryption
As the rate of IoT adoption is predicted to hit its peak in the coming years, businesses must be strictly cautious of IoT threats to prevent operational disruptions. Preventive measures like device authentication, vulnerability assessments, and security analytics will significantly aid in limiting malicious attacks.
- Third-Party threats
Today, several businesses bank on diverse third-party applications or services for their business operations.
These third-party vendors have complete access to your privileged systems and confidential data and can easily pose threats to your applications without your notice. Constant exposure to third-party services can put your entire business model at risk.
Despite not having direct access to business-critical data, these vendors can still easily sneak in via diverse access points. One of the significant reasons for this threat is that the third-party vendors are not in line with the security standards and procedures that your organization practices, thereby leaving a hole in your security wall.
Hence, businesses must define a proper set of security standards and procedures before partnering with third-party vendors. Due diligence, user activity monitoring, and risk mitigation plans will minimize the impact of third-party threats.
Types of third-party risks
- data theft
- operational disruptions
- network intrusion
- phishing & malware
Besides the key security threats that we have discussed until, there are several other threats that are still on the rise. A few of them are:
- mobile malware
- supply chain attacks
- phishing attacks
- endpoint attacks
- patch management threats
- API vulnerabilities
Protect your business from cyber threats
As cyber risks are rising and becoming increasingly complex, enterprises need to ensure their businesses are well prepared to protect their critical operations from cyber threats. With businesses quickly shifting to the digital landscape, there is no room for errors or revisions.
Hence, enterprises must have a long-term cybersecurity plan and an adept incident response team to identify and handle security threats. To strengthen the application(s) security barrier, businesses should also adopt zero trust architecture and utilize security automation that offers an extra edge to combat the diverse security threats and operational risks in the coming years.
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