Three ways to protect your IT network as you adopt digital transformation

Part 3: Using managed security services to mitigate risk

There is no question that cloud services and other digital technologies can drive speed and performance, especially for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) — and SMBs are making the transition in increasing numbers. In fact, data shows nearly half (46%) implemented digital transformation initiatives last year, up from 36% in 2017. An estimated 81% are also changing business models and reshaping processes. 

When you consider that this increase was prior to the work-from-home experiment driven by COVID-19, current numbers are astounding. Today, in the U.S. alone, an estimated 300 million people are under either state or city-mandated shelter-in-place orders. Digital initiatives are now taking center stage, critical to support a growing remote workforce.

Cybercriminals are also in lock step with this work shift, changing tactics to launch cyber scams and attacks to take advantage of new security gaps. 

You can imagine the security implications. The reality is, if security measures don’t keep pace with digital innovation, vulnerabilities and security risks can result. For example, as workforces become more mobile and distributed, and employees have access to a greater range of apps and software, company data no longer sits in one place. This creates new complexities for IT teams tasked with keeping access to cloud apps, portals, and IT networks safe and reducing the attack surface. Securing this changing network perimeter has become a critical challenge. 

In our “SMB Guide to Secure Digital Transformation,” we look at how your attack surface changes as digital initiatives are adopted and why this makes your business vulnerable to cyber risk. We discuss strategies and best practices to better plan and incorporate cybersecurity into your digital transformation strategies.

Identify risks, determine security levels, maintain visibility 

How do SMBs take advantage of digital transformation and empower a remote workforce while remaining secure?  How does IT provide complete security for this complex, changing work environment?

First, cybersecurity should be considered as soon as a digital strategy or work-from-home initiative begins — really, as soon as a business takes its first digital step. Next, the managed security services you choose should have the capabilities to identify any gaps or weaknesses in your IT infrastructure, and at the same time, enable you to scale the security measures as your plans change or expand. 

The key is finding a managed security solution that offers the right set of services to support your initiatives while enabling you to easily manage and scale it without high costs and resources. 

If this sounds like a bigger challenge than digital transformation itself, you’re not alone. Many SMBs may not know where to start when it comes to outlining the security needed for their digital plans. 

Let’s look at three essentials to keep in mind.

  • Identify your needs and vulnerabilities: Determine the digital transformation you want to accomplish and the technologies you plan to adopt. It may be helpful to create a list of everything in your IT infrastructure, and where new security implications or vulnerabilities may result as you add new technologies and processes.
  • Determine the security level you need:  Are you adding cloud services for the first time, expanding remote access, or enforcing new Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies? Each initiative requires a different level of managed security. 

For example, if cloud apps are central to your digital plan, you’ll want to prioritize these security measures:

  • Backup and disaster recovery: This enables you to quickly access valuable data in worse case scenarios.
  • Secure web gateway:  This detects and blocks web threats within the network, ensuring that users working in or outside the office can safely access data, files, and services in the cloud.
  • Patch management: This keeps cloud applications updated and free of potential vulnerabilities that may create opportunities for unauthorized access and cyber attacks.
  • Maintain visibility across your IT network: Putting cybersecurity protection in place is just one element of your defense. Cyberthreats are constantly evolving and finding new ways to attack — at the same time, your network is also changing as users connect from new locations, add devices or apps, and more.  That means, monitoring capabilities must be part of your managed security solution to provide the critical 24/7 visibility you need.

Ensuring complete security for the modern workforce

Protecting your business while ensuring the success of your digital transformation strategies not only requires a consistent focus on cybersecurity — but also the right level of security. Balancing protection with detection is critical. Equally important is the ability to easily manage and scale your security as you move forward.

To ensure your cybersecurity supports your digital plans, we created The SMB Guide to Digital Transformation.” Download it today to ensure your security measures are keeping pace with your cloud strategies and initiatives.

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