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How Your Business Should Respond to Digital Transformation Cyberwar

by Mic Johnson

With internet connectivity and digitization spreading to all sectors of businesses and even our routine life, security and peace have changed massively. Cyberwar has come to every office and home, public transportation, industrial control system, personal vehicles, and every aspect of a countries’ digital and physical infrastructure.

“War is no longer declared” – Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann. Cyberwar is moving from this line of poetry to realism.

50% of technology executives who participated in the CNBC survey believe that state-sponsored cyber war is the most dangerous risk to their organization or company.

The nature of the battles has changed now. Nations or states hide behind anonymous hackers’ groups, which are hard to pin down and their motives combined into those cybercriminals are moving beyond money.  Moreover, today web services, software systems, APIs, and the IoT have built complex interconnected ecosystems, every cybersecurity incident resulting in ripple effects and spread across several geographical locations.

For example, the recent significant and sophisticated breach, Solarwinds, which are unknown to the public can open the door for national crises since the services of this network management vendor are used by several public and private entities.

So, before concerning that cyberwar is rising, the first step must be towards clarity about what cyberwar is and what businesses can do about it.

What Does Cyberwar Look Like?

The term cyberwar refers to the act of aggression, dedicated through a digital network, aimed to cause damage to civilian or military targets to force a nation to refrain from acting. Nearly every system we use today is interconnected in some way by the internet hence every aspect of our lives could be exposed to cyberwar at some point.

There are lots of grim cyberwar examples available: One-day stock prices begin going wild as attackers change the data flow of the stock exchange. The next data, you can’t travel anywhere because all the traffic lights are jammed with red.

Are We Connected in A Cyberwar?

The most popular cyberattack we know was Stuxnet, executed against Iran. Stuxnet is a computer worm, was initially known as malicious code, but caused real-world damage. Similarly, another example of a warlike cyber incident is the NotPetya attack on Ukraine. This attack seemed to be a complex ransomware attack; however, it went directly to affect systems and delete data instead of threatening to erase critical data unless the ransom was paid. Most researchers are seeing this malware as a weapon of cyberwar.

Intellectual property theft in the US and 2007 cyberattacks against Estonia are other famous examples, which persist in the cyberwarfare conversion.

While all those instances may appear minor when compared to usual warfare, they’re signals of a devastating shift in countries’ cyber-statecraft.

Rushing to Digital Transformation Increases the Cyber Risk

According to the Ponemon report, 82% of respondents think their business experienced at least one security breach due to the digital transformation.

  • 3rd Party Dependencies – Digitization increased dependencies on 3rd parties, particularly IoT, shadow IT, and cloud service providers. Most organizations don’t have a proper 3rd party cybersecurity management program.
  • Increased Threat Landscape – Perimeters vanished. Endpoint devices flourished through practices like BYOD. Workflows and infrastructure and platforms expanded to the cloud – exponentially expanded the attack surface.

It becomes problematic for the security professional to detect all vulnerabilities and track all threats. Once the bad actors gain access to a system, there is more potential for them to spread across the company’s network.

  • Higher Potential for Damage – With digitization, the potential for damage is also greater than ever. Most of the devices interconnected are involved in critical tasks. The cyber incident, which disrupts any of these activities could impact severely. For instance, the hospital equipment and energy grid all now have interconnected components.
  • Increased Attack Sophistication – The increased speed of digital adoption increases the chance of vulnerabilities slip through. With constant innovation in technologies, hackers also continuously come up with sophisticated attack methods.

A Way Forward – Secure Your Business Undergoing Digital Transformation

If your business becomes more data-driven, automated, future-proof, and finally a digital business, then the digital part of your business must be shielded as a vital asset.

  • Built-In Security – establish a culture of security at every part of your organization. The requirement for encrypted data storage, encryption practices, proper security policies, and strong authentication options are often realized after a security incident happens. This needs to be changed.
  • Intelligent Security Solutions – Establish a single security solution, which can span across the various ecosystems and should be capable to expand and adapt as the environment changes. This requires onboarding of fully managed security solutions like a Web application firewall, which is designed to serve as a secure system.

Indusface WAF, AppTrana not only compiled with security frameworks, but also shares real-time intelligence and prepares appropriate responses to detected threats. It also applies behavioral analytics to anticipate security risks and block them before they happen.

  • Perform Regular Testing – Automate the vulnerability testing process and conduct regular pen-testing to detect vulnerabilities and boost your security posture. Incorporating automation can aid you to consistently monitor the threat and improve cyber protection. Manual penetration testing can uncover logical flaws, escaped from the automatic scans.
  • Experience the Fear and Take the Action – Enterprises often don’t realize they or their contractor or partners have been hacked until days or even months since it has occurred. Unaware of the situation, they support the attackers to access their financial records, intellectual property, encrypted information, confidential communication, and more. To put an end to such kind of damage, businesses should change their mindset about cybersecurity and prepare for it.
  • As a business owner, focus on what you can control. Most of the hosting providers and public cloud vendors talk of the shared security responsibility model.  In a nutshell, what it means is – security of the compute and network they provide as part of the hosting plan is their responsibility.  But Security of what is hosted, and application is the responsibility of the business.  So, focus on securing your application first and partner with experts to secure the app first to secure your business and mitigate threats independent of whether it is initiated as part of a Cyberwar or financially motivated hacker attacks.

Conclusion

Just think of the multitude of on-premise and on-cloud applications, which keep your business online.  Any one of them compromised can lead to a series of security incidents. While you continue to battle for the customer and market share, you should also fight for better security standards. Your business shouldn’t be valued only for your revenue and growth, but also for the protection of the infrastructure and data.

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