The Wall Street Journal Case Study: Security Unlocks Innovation

The Wall Street Journal Case Study: Security Unlocks Innovation

The Wall Street Journal Case Study: Security Unlocks Innovation

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02/08/2021 11:52

The Wall Street Journal Case Study: Security Unlocks Innovation

Companies can embrace new ideas and opportunities when they aren’t mired in security risks and vulnerabilities.

In this era of digital transformation, companies are constantly seeking ways to better leverage their data, the cloud and connectivity. But their ability to transform and innovate—both operationally and in the products and services they offer—is predicated on having robust practices around security.

With strong security measures in place, business and IT leaders can feel confident taking advantage of new technological opportunities, including the ability to move and use data in innovative ways without exposing the enterprise to unacceptable levels of risk. That can mean new products, new efficiencies and new ways to enhance the relationship between company and consumer.

“Security allows IT teams to focus on more value-added services and provides peace of mind to allow creative, talented folks within the organization to do what they do best,” says Will Townsend, senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, a tech consulting firm based in Austin, Texas. “That will drive innovation and accelerate digital transformation.”

Issues of scale

Understanding the importance of security as a prerequisite for innovation, though, is only a first step. The challenge in securing a modern, cloud-driven digital world, one where employees increasingly work remotely and virtually everything is connected to the internet, is foremost one of scale.

“Over time, the costs of computing power have been driven down to almost nothing, and so technology is now everywhere,” says Jim Reavis, co-founder and chief executive of the Cloud Security Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting best practices for a secure cloud computing environment. “It’s in what we wear, what we drive, the doors we walk through and the roads we walk on. It’s just a huge explosion of growth.”

Technology’s ubiquity has created a huge increase in the size of the attack surface—the full range of points at which an unauthorized user might gain access—that companies must defend. Meanwhile, the number of cyber attacks has been rising rapidly. According to the technology research firm Canalys, over 12 billion records were reportedly compromised in 2020, reflecting a 60% increase in ransomware attacks. It’s no surprise, then, that companies continue to spend more on cybersecurity. Canalys says the cybersecurity market could exceed $60 billion in 2021, rising as much as 10% over 2020 levels.

Building a secure foundation

To protect themselves in this increasingly complex environment, organizations typically employ a wide variety of tools and practices that range from employee education to adopting advanced technological solutions designed to monitor and protect the network. Some companies today manage well over 50 point-security solutions, Townsend says.

But while a great deal of attention is given to a company’s security tech stack, recent high-profile security breaches have shown the importance of having security baked into the tools and resources that companies use, even when they sit outside of its core security infrastructure. Malicious actors are able to find their way in through any “side door” available, and when a company partners with a vendor, it inherits any security vulnerabilities and risk that vendor carries, Reavis says.

What that means: Companies must pay close attention to the security measures of any third-party technology vendors it chooses to work with and evaluate whether those vendors are adhering to security-related regulations and industry standards. “Anyone providing or selling technology today is really selling trust,” Reavis says. “To get trust, they must offer security and transparency. It’s important that they meet the security standards expected of them and that they do so in a transparent way.”

If those baseline standards, including security certifications and any auditing requirements, can’t be met, companies should look elsewhere for technological solutions, Reavis adds. Moreover, companies need to move toward a “zero trust” environment, where they don’t adopt any new technology, tool or system until it’s been fully tested and vetted.

Finding partners

Likewise, Townsend recommends seeking out companies that have demonstrated commitments to security in conjunction with a respect for technological partnerships. And because multiple vendors compete in nearly every corner of the digital market, enterprises have options. It’s important for partners to understand how they fit into a security architecture, even if they’re not providing security services.

For example, Huawei, the global provider of information technology and smart devices, has focused on strengthening its security while being transparent about the steps it’s taken to do so, says Michael MacDonald, the company’s chief digital officer and executive consultant. “Over the past 10 years, Huawei has undertaken a significant effort to manage security as part of our entire development life cycle,” he says. “We try to bring as many vendors and industry players together where we’re all working toward the same standards. Wherever possible, we submit our products and code for testing. We try to be as transparent as possible. We take security very seriously.”

Townsend notes the positive steps Huawei has taken on that end, including the establishment of cybersecurity centers in Europe and China. “They invite customers in to kick the tires and see what they’re doing,” he says.

Enabling innovation

Ultimately, a holistic, comprehensive view of security—where it is part of the conversation within the organization at every stage of digital transformation and strategic planning—means companies can grow and thrive while successfully managing risk.

Having a strong backbone in security across the organization allows companies to be more flexible, forward-looking and creative, MacDonald adds. Employees can feel confident when relying on their tools and systems without the fear they may be exposing their companies to risk.

“Security needs to become part of the design philosophy,” he says. “When you have the freedom to not worry about security mechanisms, you can innovate and design.”

Michelle Hà Bùi

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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