This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.
Digital transformation is having a profound effect on organisations large and small, reinventing the way they do business and delivering huge benefits in efficiency.
“Most companies are at some stage of their digital transformation journey – whether it’s adopting software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, integrating the internet of things (IoT), or completely redesigning business processes,” explains Kevin Chapman, senior vice president and general manager for Avast Business, a division of Avast.
However, while digital transformation is helping businesses differentiate themselves and reach new markets, these elements on their own don’t equal growth. “Customers equal growth and customers only want to do business with companies they trust, especially in our digital economy,” says Chapman.
Indeed, trust is a highly valuable commodity in the digital economy – and it’s diminishing with good reason. “There are millions of data breaches every day,” Chapman says. “According to a recent report by Risk Based Security, around five billion records were exposed in 2018, which equals more than 13 million records per day.”
With greater mobility and a move towards cloud-based solutions, the possibility of these breaches is growing at breakneck speed, bringing huge implications in terms of security. “This cannot be ignored,” Chapman says. “As employees become more remote and have a deeper use of the internet, the perimeter of the office is disintegrated,” he explains. “Applications and infrastructure are moving to the cloud. Users are working from anywhere and accessing the data and apps they need to do their work directly from the cloud.”
As users go direct, they are bypassing traditional network security controls, which significantly increases business risk. “Traditional security measures are not built for this new operating environment,” Chapman explains. “Some legacy solutions, like unified threat management (UTM) or on-premises appliances, have a secure sockets layer (SSL) web protection feature, but, according to Gartner, in 90% of cases these are turned off because of latency issues. This means that many firms, especially smaller enterprises, are not prepared.”
The risks are huge. “Accenture has found that the average cost of cybercrime for an organisation increased from US$1.4 million to US$13.0 million over the last five years,” Chapman says.
To mitigate these risks, organisations need to put security at the centre of their digital transformation efforts. “They need to be open and identify the risks within their business, particularly looking at the apps that employees use in the cloud and where data resides,” Chapman explains. “It’s then time to start researching solutions, identifying a budget and analysing the costs associated with managing multiple platforms and solutions.
Chapman says that, in many cases, alternative cloud-based technologies can be cost-effective. “In an age of cloud and mobility, it’s important that firms look at the solutions that enable the greatest flexibility – threats will only exacerbate in the future, so organisations need to be prepared,” he says.
Solutions that deliver cloud-based network security offer advanced protection by blocking threats in the cloud. “They never enter the corporate network, so they protect users, whether they are working remotely, from a branch office, or inside your corporate network,” Chapman explains.
The bottom line, Chapman says, is that businesses are rapidly adopting digital technologies, but one breach could destroy their business and their brand, especially in an era of growing digital distrust.
“Businesses that put security at the core of their transformation initiatives will emerge as the winners,” Chapman concludes. “But securing the network has changed significantly. More SaaS apps and more remote workers mean legacy network security solutions won’t work. Businesses need SaaS security to ensure fast, secure, reliable access to cloud-based applications and data and in turn, reduce business risk, build trust, and drive innovation.”
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