In this digital age where most businesses are focusing on the disrupt or be disrupted ethos, it seems that most are ignoring an even bigger trend that will affect their organization. In 2016, cybersecurity or the lack thereof played a significant role. The fact that even presidential campaigns were affected by hacking scandals and data leaks illustrates how the question is no longer if you will be breached, but when.
After countless headline stories about DDoS attacks, ransomware, and IT security staff shortages, customer patience is beginning to wane as they increasingly demand better online protection. However, a growing number of attacks are no longer aimed at stealing customer’s data, but halting business operations, stealing trade secrets, or even closing the doors of a business.
A good example of this is the recent breach of German steel giant ThyssenKrupp who was recently hit by a professional cyber-attack designed to steal trade secrets. It is believed that the breach originated from Southeast Asia and was a blatant attempt “to steal technological know-how and research” from its steel production and design divisions. The rise of this digital form of industrial espionage through the medium of cyber-attacks is becoming a very real threat to businesses of all sizes as intellectual property becomes just one of many online targets.
Many argue that the biggest challenge that needs to be overcome is the boardroom’s understanding and awareness of the cyber risks facing their organization. If the growing trends of data breaches, cyber attacks, and nation-state threats are not tackled sooner rather than later, it could not only affect individual businesses but the nation’s entire economy. This is the magnitude of the problem that could soon get out of control if boardrooms fail to realize that the future continuity of their business is the crucial ROI from advanced security measures.
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty famously told Forbes that "Cybercrime is the greatest threat to every company in the world." But once again, it seemed that a few business leaders quickly reverted to their “I think we will be ok” mode.
While the traditional view of cybersecurity was to focus on keeping hackers out, 2017 will require organizations to plan for the worst. In much the same way that people make the mistake of buying a burglar alarm after they have been burglarized, businesses of all sizes need to start safeguarding their IT infrastructure, data, and reputation before the inevitable, rather than pick up the pieces after the damage is done. It’s crucial that leaders understand how rapidly the threats are evolving and how they have dramatically raised the stakes in a new cybersecurity game.