Cybersecurity is Now Essential to Corporate Strategy. Here's How to Bring the Two Together. The security team is now seen as the backbone of functioning operations and customer trust.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When Covid-19 forced the rapid transition to a remote workforce, it permanently shifted the role that the security teams have in an organization. Whereas previously security teams were more a back office function, today security is the foundation of the business and brand. This is true regardless of the business size or industry sector.
There are several reasons for this shift. The first is the move to an almost entirely remote life. Traditionally, security teams were more focused on protecting their walled garden. Now they are dealing with a much larger and unpredictable attack surface. Users are working from home, possibly using their own devices. This is true regardless of the business size or industry sector.
The second is that on the consumer side, the move to remote life meant customers and clients have also become more vigilant and concerned about their own digital security. As larger cultural awareness on data breaches increased, it raised the expectations of the type of security posture that was needed for them to partner with or purchase from a company.
Within leadership teams and organizations, this shift highlights how vital the security processes of an organization are to business continuing smoothly.
A recent Mckinsey report observed that "...cybersecurity teams are being perceived anew. They must no longer be seen as a barrier to growth but rather become recognized as strategic partners in technology and business decision making." Here's how to help make this integration more successful.
Prioritize your security
Pre-pandemic, we often saw businesses prioritize product development over security. After all, products generate revenue while security is often seen as slowing things down. As a result, companies didn't fully understand the risks their business was under or the importance of their tech infrastructure. The reality is that if your business collects, uses or engages with online data, you are responsible for its safety.
To help the larger business understand the role of the security team, leadership needs to make sure that the entire organization sees themselves as part of the data first tech company. This increases compliance with security regulations and an appreciation for focusing on this component of the business.
The security posture of your business is its brand
A company's cybersecurity posture and reputation is quickly becoming the foundation for its success. A "good enough" security posture is no longer enough for brand trust. Increasingly, partnerships or client and customer signups are contingent on the strength of the company's security posture. It's why a strong investment into the security of your business is not a backoffice line item, but an essential foundational piece to the sales, brand and growth strategies as well.
Compliance is not security
This is an essential difference to understand. Compliance is about checking the same processes to meet some pre-established requirements and procedures. Security is about continually monitoring for new and unexpected vulnerabilities. The best way to think of this important difference is as though there is an (ideally) impenetrable net covering every component of your business. Compliance checks the state of that net at a moment in time and from an established list of criteria, but it isn't checking for a continually growing set of new threats that are not yet on the list.
Security requires ongoing vigilance for unexpected vulnerabilities. It's very much a real time and continuous effort. When it comes to cybersecurity planning, the lesson for businesses is that following established processes is not enough. It's about anticipating what could happen or what could possibly go wrong. Security is like an ongoing and engaged state of being — it needs active and ongoing vigilance and maintenance to remain operational and be ready to pivot when the expected happens.
Finally, alongside these framework adjustments, successfully integrating security into strategy will be easier if the security team is connected into conversations on business transformation, digital initiatives, customer or client feedback. Similarly, making sure they are looped in with senior executives regularly will help the security team understand the risk levels related to core business practices.
Customers aren't going to shop or trust a service provider if they think buying or working with them is going to put their own data or security at risk. The challenge is how to do this successfully and at scale, and how to be able quickly deploy resources to be continually detecting new threats — all of which takes significant resources and technical expertise.
This is why end-to-end and turnkey solutions that streamline the ability to provide ongoing security testing and assurance validation will be essential to the post-Covid success of startups and SMBs.