In 2020, the world witnessed the biggest push for digital services in history as the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented levels of disruption to normal lives. From banking to shopping, entertainment, and education, nearly all major activities transitioned into digital-only or digital-mostly modes for a good part of the year. Most experts believe that the reliance on digital is likely to be permanent even in the post-COVID world. Businesses that transitioned a major part of their operations into massive digital channels experienced success and are confident of repeating the feat for the future.
McKinsey reported that in just a span of around 8 weeks in 2020, there was nearly a 5-year leap that both consumers and businesses made in digital adoption worldwide. But with bigger digital ventures, comes added risks as well.
The United Nations reported that 2020 witnessed nearly a 600% jump in cybercrimes worldwide as the massive online population became a goldmine for criminals and fraudsters to unleash new digital avatars for their shady business and objectives. To protect consumer data and privacy, regulatory bodies worldwide are bringing about legislation and policies (like the EU’s GDPR mandate) to govern the management of citizen data by enterprise tech. Even Google was fined nearly USD 56.8 million for GDPR violations in France. This is also a stark reminder that as businesses enlarge their technology landscape with large-scale projects, information security becomes a key consideration to gain customer trust and avoid the wrath of penalties.
As more customer data is channelled through private digital channels than ever before, here are the top four information security considerations that businesses must adhere to while implementing large scale digital projects:
Proactively Deal with Vulnerabilities
Large digital systems often rely on large hardware ecosystems either at the provider side or on the consumption side or both. Through years of research, it has been found that security vulnerabilities exist in some of the most commonly used hardware architectures managed by even leading brands like Intel and AMD as well as on popular information encryption protocols like the WPA2 encryption adhered by Wi-Fi systems worldwide. Organizations have to be extra vigilant in ensuring the right security patches are installed on time to fix vulnerabilities and if necessary, make investments in replacing hardware that is hard to fix with software vulnerabilities. These may be expensive affairs, but the long-term information security compromise scenario cannot be risked at any cost.
VAPT (Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing) should be done for web applications, mobile applications, cloud infrastructure, and local IT infra level to identify and eliminate any vulnerabilities existing in the applications.
Eliminate Usage of Unvetted Applications and Libraries
As the digital landscape expands and when events like the pandemic require employees to work remotely and at times on their own devices and internet, it is possible that there will be a wave of new 3rd party applications or libraries that may gain access to the core enterprise information highway to make lives easier for employees. However, the “Use at your own risk” policy that companies promote at times for such instances is a huge mistake. It is important to have a panel of experts ready across the business who need to verify and vet the usage of any new 3rd party system that may encounter the enterprise digital landscape courtesy of employees.
Set up Encryption Policies
When new digital systems take over, organizations often have to deal with truckloads of data that may either reside idly on different data storage options or in transit across different enterprise systems spanning both cloud and on-premises installations. It is important to analyze and devise a strategic encryption policy for both categories of data and enforce them through organization-wide policy implementations. The enforcement policies should also be standardized and communicated to vendors and partners who build and manage the storage of this data like, for example, cloud service providers or are engaged with multiple activities that may interact with the enterprise’s data channels frequently.
Promote Risk Awareness
A key cause for cyber exploitations can be the lack of awareness among employees, customers, and other stakeholders in a business about how digital environments can be exposed to threats. It is important to draw up a guideline having best practices, safe digital experience know-hows, and other tips that must be communicated to customers, employees, and partners. Active training sessions on risk awareness, identification, and elimination need to be periodically provided to employees to help them be aware of new threats and prepare their operations to thwart any impact. Customers must be regularly alerted about possible phishing or spam attacks via emails or messages having links that download malicious software onto their devices without knowledge. With proper risk awareness, there will be fewer security vulnerabilities that hackers or cybercriminals can attack or exploit to gain access into enterprise digital networks.
Information security is of paramount importance for businesses operating in the digital era. Enabling a secure digital experience for customers without compromising on innovation and new capabilities is the key to be successful. For this, they need active working knowledge on best practices for information security, access to the latest trusted tools, and expert advisory on maintaining a secure and sustainable digital environment.
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