Scaling can be an intense and stressful experience. And with the addition of new business considerations, risks and responsibilities increase. Whether witnessing a growth in demand, meeting new clients and creating new business opportunities, or investing to conquer new markets, keeping track of everything that comes with scaling can be extremely tricky.
For the first time, the 2023 World Economic Forum Global Risks Report included “Widespread cybercrime and cyber insecurity” as a new entrant to the top rankings of global threats. But with all the factors that come with expansion, such as new products and services, budgets, ROI, marketing, sales and more, it's easy to lose sight of the one element that a company has to secure its posture: cybersecurity. In this report, be inspired by three simple tactics to scale business and security side by side without compromising budgets.
If it isn’t broke, don't fix it: Pentest the expansion
The 2023 Technology Spending Intentions Survey of ESG Global says that more than half (52%) of organizations are planning to increase their IT spending. 41% of organizations surveyed assure they have leveled up their ransomware preparedness. As a business scales, security leaders might feel the urge to follow the crowd and increase investments, bringing in a new flashy cybersecurity vendor.
However, if the current security system has been working so far, there is no need to rock the boat. In fact, switching away from an architecture that is proven effective can be a waste of time and resources. Additionally, it will likely bring unexpected new risks.
On the other hand, while security leaders can easily scale up cloud, edge and on-premises using the system they are already operating, it's paramount to focus on the security of the new digital assets. Most companies expanding will add new websites, new digital services, new apps, IoT devices or new workforce endpoints. These additions represent business-critical assets to the organization’s plan and are the most significant risk. An innovative and out-of-the-box approach to guarantee their safety is penetration testing.
While penetration testing can be exhaustive, they are usually laser-focused, making them ideal for testing the strengths and weaknesses of the organization’s new apps, endpoints and assets. Pentests are the only way of running realistic simulations of attacks, which include phishing simulations that reveal how awake new workers are to fake email, SMS, voice and other black hat hacker tricks.
Pentesters will employ the same techniques modern cybercriminals use. The most professional services will scan the new assets, test their code, ensure it complies with standards, and identify bugs, weaknesses, misconfigurations and errors before cybercriminals can exploit them. They will also present organizations with guidance to remediate the problems they discovered.
When a company’s security team is operating at 100%, and doesn’t need to make drastic changes, penetration tests will give insight into new additions before adding them under the umbrella of the company’s cybersecurity framework. Remember, only move a new digital asset from testing to operational once it has been double-checked.
Vendor consolidation and the layered approach
In contrast, if and organization is scaling and the cybersecurity posture leaves many unanswered questions regarding its performance, security leaders should consider vendor consolidation and the layered security approach.
Nothing can make a business expansion lose momentum as running out of budget. Economic uncertainty and inflation check all the right boxes and ensure 2023 will be a rough year to navigate. But how can security leaders make sure their cybersecurity investments stay within the new business targets?
Vendor consolidation is reducing the number of solutions, technologies and companies which security leaders are in business with to consolidate their compliance, governance and security. Not only is vendor consolidation a refreshing simplification for security teams and a welcomed budget cut for the accounting department, but it also increases the ability to perform better.
In September 2022, a Gartner survey revealed that 75% of organizations were pursuing security vendor consolidation, with more than half (65%) consolidating to improve risk posture. Only 29% of organizations surveyed said they consolidated to cut down spending on licenses.
When a company’s digital footprint grows, it might go in new directions where its security systems have never operated. Therefore security leaders may need to bring in new security technologies, processes and people to cover new assets. The best way to keep performance up while safeguarding resources is to add security solutions tailored to business needs. From endpoint security to IoT risk management, or next-generation firewalls, when consolidating vendors, ensure to include new layers of protection that meet the expectations and demands of the business expansion plan.
Finally, the new layers must not be siloed and work under the cybersecurity umbrella. The umbrella should be consolidated, layered and integrated, giving security leaders complete visibility of the whole system in real time. Additionally, neglecting to include compliance and governance in this approach can have devastating consequences, especially if out to conquer new markets, customers or partners.
There is no business without compliance and governance
Just like sensor-to-edge-to-cloud autonomous solutions can help companies monitor and reduce carbon footprint — working the “E” in ESG — there are new compliance and governance technologies that companies can leverage. Cloud, hybrid and on-premises compliance and governance tools are fully automated, highly customizable, scalable and, more importantly, cost-efficient.
If wondering whether the return on investment for these platforms will pencil out, consider the costs of wandering into new territories without proper compliance and governance frameworks. As Diligent explains, the cost of breaching, for example, a law like the GDPR, can cost up to $847 million, while violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) carries a $1.5 million penalty per year for each violation.
Additionally, executives who knowingly certify financial reports that don’t comply with SOX requirements face fines of up to $1 million, alongside 10 years imprisonment, and violating anti-money laundering regulations can translate into up to 20 years for each violation. Furthermore, data privacy and security laws that protect consumers have become a growing trend for court cases costing companies millions in fines and leading to business havoc and extensive reputation damages.
Compliance and governance are all about data management. From where and whom organizations collect or generate data to what they do with it, the entire lifecycle of the data is essential. Additionally, scaling may imply attracting new customers, hiring talent, setting up new business relationships with new partners or expanding the supply chain. How a company manages compliance and governance will open or close doors and shape the brand perception.
While it's no secret that the ever-evolving legal and ethical landscape is becoming more complex to navigate, moving into new markets and regions will sure have security leaders shoulder-to-shoulder with new regulations to comply. Fortunately, innovation is on their side. Compliance and governance tools are embedded into all top cloud vendors; they are easy to operate, automate most of the compliance checks, are efficient and cost-effective.
How do they work? These automated technologies will depend on the type of workloads an organization hosts and the compliance rules the business needs to meet. Once they have identified the regulatory requirements and assets, they are defined as rules within the solutions. For example, a rule may be that all the data stored in the cloud is encrypted, or be more detailed and, for example, list as mandatory all the requirements set by regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Once rules are defined, the technologies can perform automatic audits, identify errors and suggest solutions. Furthermore, the tech can go beyond once-and-done audits, integrate risk management programs, set priorities, eliminate redundancy and monitor and execute planning and remediation.
Scaling and growth are born from business leaders' visions. Despite the current state of the global cybersecurity landscape, the ambition can be guided to success. Test the new digital assets before they go live, consolidate vendors, layer security and keep compliance and governance in check to reach milestones. Keeping security efforts clear and straightforward while accelerating performance without compromising budget is an achievable reality.