Every business should consider itself under threat from cyber criminals Image: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration
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Whilst the Fourth Industrial Revolution is opening up new opportunities for organizations to embrace emerging technologies, rethink business models and improve the lives of employees and customers, it also has a darker side – increased security risks.
The recent unprecedented WannaCry ransomware attack that affected organizations in over 150 countries highlights the exploding threat landscape that we face today.
Denial is no longer an option
Every business, financial institution, telecoms provider, energy company and government should now consider itself to be under threat from cyber criminals intent on causing devastation for gain. This ever-growing network of cyber criminals is intent on developing the most advanced attack methods to penetrate systems.
The cyber landscape becomes more perilous by the day – nearly 12 million new malware variants are discovered each month. The UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017 found that almost seven in 10 large businesses identified a breach or attack last year. What’s more, businesses holding electronic data about their customers were far more likely to be compromised than those that didn’t.
Forward-looking companies are thinking not only about how criminals can gain access to networks, but also what they do when they’re inside.
We need to respond to threats
We all accept that business plays a key role in determining the success of a nation, and that national decisions impact on business; this interdependence now extends to cyber security.
The only effective response to this level of cyber attack is a major step up in cyber security to give us national-level insight and oversight that will work closely with industry and government. Those of us with national responsibilities, the leaders of nationally-important businesses, and major institutions, need to unite to fight. We need to lead a defence strategy against this cyber warfare at a national level, bringing the best minds and tools together to protect assets.
Risk vs opportunity
But digital risk and opportunity are two sides of the same coin. Despite the risks, you want your organization to make the most of what digital tools it has to offer. You want your people to be able to work flexibly and efficiently using devices and the cloud. And you want your network infrastructure to benefit from the power and agility that digital innovation brings.
To gain the trust of employees, customers, partners and regulators in the digital economy, organizations must have strong security. Companies that get this right will enjoy such high levels of trust that their customers will look to them as guides for the digital future. Those that get it wrong will be hindered in their growth and face threats to their data, customers and reputation.
Rethink the risk
It is time for organizations to look differently at cyber security, and how they can rethink the risks of operating in a digital world to deliver inclusive growth.
Cyber security has stepped beyond the realm of pure cyber security specialists. To take advantage of new opportunities, and develop as a business, you have to make sure security is a part of your wider business strategy. An important part of this is to appoint a Chief Digital Risk Officer (CDRO).
A quarter of organizations already have a CDRO in place, and this role combines digital expertise with high-level management skills. The position has emerged as part of a redefinition of digital roles, and it has a huge amount of potential. Individuals in this position can develop policies and practices that allow organizations to create new, better ways of working, deliver better services to customers and streamline back-office systems.
It’s just one of the ways that security can make sure your organization enjoys more opportunities than it would otherwise.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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