Today’s cyberspace has a ton of opportunities and threats up its sleeve. The very characteristics that make it so convenient and flexible are largely responsible for Cyber Threats. Cyber Security is a serious concern for both Individuals and Organizations.
However, the implications of a Cyber-Security Breach for an Organization may be far reaching and at times irreparable. In today’s information age, intellectual property alone is worth millions and billions of dollars. One can’t fully come to terms with the gravity of such information falling into the wrong hands.
Let’s briefly touch what the term Cyber Security signifies for an organization. It is hard to come up with a universal definition of what constitutes Cyber Security, because it can have different dimensions. Broadly speaking, it is defined as securing an organization’s data, proprietary processes, intellectual property and IT infrastructure from both internal and external cyber threats.
The Dated Approach to Cyber Security
Even to this day, there is a fundamental flaw in the approach some organizations adopt with regards to Cyber Security. Instead of incorporating this into the strategic paradigm of an entity’s sustainability and growth, it is viewed more as a monotonous and exaggerated exercise in vain.
The foremost and perhaps most important step towards achieving high immunity to cyber threats is a change in the above mindset, right from the top. It is otherwise an established fact of corporate culture that change flows from the top to the lower echelons of any organization.
Cyber Security and Top Management
The shift in the approach of top management will have to do better than issuing a few memos that employees rarely bother to read. The top management will have to take ownership of Cyber Security Initiatives across the organization and directly monitor progress on those initiatives.
With the involvement of top management, there will be a natural sense of urgency among the middle and lower tiers of management to implement cyber security measures. Another benefit of this approach is that any resource related constraints, whether human or financial, will be addressed on priority.
Traditional Mindset towards Cyber Security Spending
Any Organization’s Financial Resources are limited and many departments of the entity are fiercely competing for a lion’s share of those resources. The biggest impediment to achieving a sound cyber security infrastructure is that spending on Cyber Security is viewed as a waste of financial resources.
The argument often raised in favor of this mindset is that cyber security is all about an event that may or may not occur in the future. So, why not spend financial resources on more “tangible” areas where results are quicker and more quantifiable.
Cyber Threats and Today’s Organizations
In the present day and age, every organization that interacts with the internet is a potential prey for cyber criminals. No matter what the underlying motivations for a cyber-criminal, every threat has to be taken seriously and critically analyzed.
Therefore, a cyber-attack today is not a matter of if, rather a question of when. The most important factor in any such scenario will be the preparation and homework an entity has done to identify and thwart any cyber misadventure. After an attack has been successful, there is little a company can do.
Cyber Security as a Business Enabler
Another persistent criticism on cyber security initiatives is that they tend to impede organizational growth and progress by constricting the existing system. As a result, an entity is forced to shelve many existing and planned projects mainly because of cyber security concerns.
This is a grave misinterpretation because cyber security concerns are not raised or highlighted to ditch the whole project. On the contrary, what’s required is that the cyber vulnerability is critically analyzed and a sound solution is put in place for any cyber misadventure.
A Pro-Growth Cyber Security Plan
Now that we have allayed most of the misconceptions surrounding cyber security, let’s discuss the practical aspects of implementing a cyber-security apparatus and leveraging the same to achieve the all-important goal of business growth.
Previously, an organization’s cyber security approach was highly geared towards its overall perimeter. A major drawback of this approach was that it was too generalized. Any cybercriminal that gained unauthorized access to the network’s perimeter was almost certain to cause serious damage.
In contrast, the latest approach to cyber security revolves around protecting the business critical assets. The classification of these assets will greatly vary in each industry but generally, they are the proprietary processes that give the entity a competitive edge in the respective industry.
For an e-commerce website, perhaps the two most business critical assets would comprise of the customer’s credit card data and their personal information they share with the business. If this data is compromised as a result of a security breach, the organization’s mere existence is shrouded by uncertainty.
The trend of remotely working employees is increasing with every passing day. This is partly due to the power of the internet and largely due to a physically dispersed workforce. Nonetheless, these employees have to access the company’s network to execute their work.
Instead of closing the doors to a remote workforce, why not improve the access and authentication protocols of the company’s network. Studies have shown that remote employees are more motivated and less likely to switch the job as compared to regular on-premises employees.
This will also bring long-term cost savings to the organization and improve employee retention rates. In this way, the costs of improving cyber security will be overshadowed by the benefits that the company will reap by virtue of a more motivated and productive workforce.
Cyber Security and IT Infrastructure
Whether a company maintains its business critical data in house or over the cloud, it will have to invest in its IT Infrastructure for a seamless and efficient user experience. It has been observed in many cases that the implementation of cyber security protocols has severely hampered the efficiency of the network.
An unavoidable consequence of this sluggishness is that some employees may get frustrated and devise means to circumvent the company’s secured network. This will render the organization to cyber threats, despite a sound security apparatus being in place.
Therefore, organizations must forge a cyber-security solution that has the characteristics of being both secure and efficient. If either of these two critical attributes are missing from the IT infrastructure, it will virtually be rendered useless and defenseless.
In many industries, a certain minimum level of cyber threat security is mandated by the law. It is particularly true for companies that are heavily involved in accepting and maintaining information of the general public. In such a case, beefing up the cyber security of the organization is not a matter of choice, but a necessity.
Organizations that fail to comply with regulatory cyber security measures inflict irreparable damage to their reputation, which is seldom restored. Incidents of cyber security breach may also attract legal and penal proceedings that can have grave financial implications for the entity.
Instead of viewing cyber security initiatives as an evil that impedes on organization’s growth avenues, it should be perceived as an opportunity. Why not create a potential cyber security threat area into a business opportunity by plugging all the loopholes and securing the process.
With the right approach flowing down from none other than the organization’s top management, allocation of adequate human and financial resources and a long term approach towards cyber security, companies will achieve both cyber security and long-term sustainability.
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