Part 1: Understanding the security impacts of digital transformation
If you’re a small or mid-sized business (SMB), digital technologies may be the foundation of your operations — enabling you to scale, build your team, market your products, or take customer service to a new level.
Whether it’s cloud solutions that empower distributed teams or advanced analytics that drive business insights, the digital economy is enabling SMBs to compete more effectively and move business forward.
In fact, 2020 data from SMB Group shows that by investing in digital transformation, SMBs are 1.9 times more likely to forecast revenue increases. A Deloitte study also indicated that digital tools have helped business performance for SMBs — 85% of SMBs surveyed believe the digital tools they are using have helped their business in some way.
While there’s no question of its benefits, digital transformation is also changing, often increasing, cybersecurity requirements for businesses. The reality is, as SMBs adopt cloud technologies, enable remote workforces, and more — security must also change and adapt. If security measures don’t match the digital pace, SMBs face cyber risks that can impact the success of digital initiatives.
In our new SMB Guide to Secure Digital Transformation, we look at how the cybersecurity landscape changes with digital technology adoption and why this makes your business vulnerable to cyber risk. We examine strategies, approaches, and best practices to better secure and continually protect businesses as they make the digital transition.
Understanding digital transformation and its security impact
The SMB Group defines digital transformation as “using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes, practices, models, cultures and customer experiences.” The phrase itself is also gaining more recognition among SMBs. Data revealed that nearly 60% of SMBs are now familiar with the term and understand its meaning. This has nearly doubled from two years ago.
However you define it, digital transformation can mean many things to a business and it can drive different goals and outcomes. SMBs may also be in different stages of adoption, either fully transitioning to the cloud or putting specific digital strategies into place such as Office 365 or remote work policies.
All have impacts on cybersecurity. As workers rely on the web and more data and applications move to the cloud, it creates opportunities for unauthorized network access and cyber attacks on web and email. These threats can happen from multiple factors — misconfiguration of cloud services, lack of policies to manage user identity and access, phishing attacks fooling users, and more.
Reliance on traditional security can also lead to attacks as SMBs often lack the resources or IT knowledge to build layered security strategies to properly scan malicious web traffic and protect users accessing the cloud or working outside the corporate office. The changes driven by COVID-19 are one example, requiring businesses to quickly enable teams to work remotely, access cloud-based video meeting apps, and more. All of this added new risks and we saw new cyber threats emerge as attackers took advantage of insecure remote access and a growing, online workforce.
Adopting digital strategies while staying secure
The key to experiencing the full advantages of a digital economy is ensuring your cybersecurity strategies are in lock step with your cloud strategies and initiatives.