Protecting your business: What we’ve learnt in 2017

Improving and upgrading IT systems in 2017 has heavily revolved around cybersecurity. However, rather than a knee-jerk reaction, or trending buzzword — as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018 — leaders are striving for safety, security and assurance.

Security breaches have impacted household corporate names including Debenhams, Three, Wonga and Lloyds Banking Group in 2017. Therefore, naturally, companies are conscious of the likelihood of experiencing a cyber attack and concerned about its potential consequences.

Cybersecurity today

Research and advisory firm, Gartner, revealed that in 2017 and moving in 2018, companies will increase their cloud-based action. The industry can expect to see a sizeable shift towards detection, protection and effective responses to problems. It will also seek to safeguard itself against an industry-wide shortage of skills.

At the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit 2017, Earl Perkins, Research Vice President in the Security and Privacy team at Gartner, revealed: “You can’t protect everything equally…we have to find a way to control only what matters.”

While the optimum business state is one of absolute certainty, Gartner emphasises that this is not possible as you cannot know how secure all of your digital partners are. With that said, there are a number of best practices that companies can implement to ensure resilience, transparency, usability, control and risk balancing over all systems.

Data generation is set to gather pace at an unprecedented level in the next three to five years, commented Perkins. As a result, data classes and data governance will be a key area of concern for businesses. Data science, analytics and security via artificial intelligence will emerge to provide solutions to help handle the sheer amount of company data held on file.

Cloud-based protection

Cloud-based security including cloud desktop, hosted backup, anti-virus, Microsoft office 365 and hosted exchange email are highly sought-after by businesses who appreciate that as the cloud environment hits mature levels, it needs to increase its cybersecurity.

It is likely that there will be an increase in the uptake of these services. This comes as there is a particular concern around shared cloud services and the notion that the high use of cloud may lead to precarious and unpredictable ecosystems.

How to protect against emerging cyber attacks 

In 2017, and moving forward into 2018, we’ve seen the beginnings of evolved data threats and attacks that will effectively seek to create longer-term, reputational damage to businesses:

  • Hackers will target data integrity

Data theft has largely governed the cyber attack world to date. However, attackers are now moving beyond websites to the design, implementation and access of data in systems.

  • Security strategies

With a widespread lack of cybersecurity skills in internal organisations, workforces will provide advice and information, along with training.

  • Smarter and complex breaches

The use of ransomware to fuel malicious activities can equate to a rise in infections. Bespoke targeted codes are also leaving workplaces vulnerable to intelligent and rapid attacks, encouraging the use of cybersecurity to prevent these from taking hold. 

  • The rise of the Chief Cybercrime Officer (COO) title

Following TalkTalk’s cyber attack in October 2015 — which subsequently led to the company paying £400,000 fines for its security failings — UK MPs recommended incorporating an officer for the daily data security responsibilities. This was a big step in recognising the damage that security hacks can have on adequate consumer data protection, reputation and business growth. The COO role aims to prepare companies for a potential cyber attack. It achieves this through communicating preventative measures and managing potential data leaks.

Next-generation cybersecurity

Automation and Machine Learning

Automation implementation now moves from an ad-hoc, opportunistic methodology to one that is strategic and systematic. The gap has always existed between optimising automation and pairing this with its script-based environment.

Heuristic design, which stems from data that is fed through operations is the next level of automation. Deterministic tasks, that were previously exclusively carried out by humans, are now being completed using advanced technology. These are favoured by company leaders looking to conduct complex activities and speed up processes.

Machine learning is an area of innovative computer science that seeks to give computers a level of autonomy. Moving forward, developers are equipping computers with the ability to learn without explicit programming. Overall, this aims to improve customer experience by exploring customer applications and providing product recommendations.

Big data

New data architectures are managing real-time inputs and unstructured data, which reduce disruptions to technology and business activities. Mass quantities of data, when handled correctly and interpreted effectively, should enable industries to improve operations.

By its very quantitative nature, big data in 2017 made great strides. It sought to humanise its very core and add a qualitative element to its activities. Big data has become empathetic, understanding and visual while combining both the numerical and in-depth descriptive elements of analysis.

Internet of Things, Smart Home Tech…and Everything

The interconnectivity of smart home technology has been on the cusp of achieving true analysis for years. Customer demands, priorities and industry trends show that the IOT space is more than simply purchasing a piece of at-home hardware that answers their every need on-demand. In fact, the devices are more in tune with their individual lifestyles.

These small, intelligent devices, which directly connect to the network space and internet cloud services, are on the up. However, in 2017, these product launches may be seen to go against the very reason they were developed – to collaborate multiple options into one seamless and simple experience for the user. Arguably, this needs to be achieved, instead of the industry becoming saturated and offering a potentially confusing number of options to consumers. 

Business value dashboards are valuable as they are bridging the gap in knowledge in workforces of all sizes. These are useful when an understanding of IT processes and systems needs to be accessible to all business stakeholders.

Mobile and physical-digital integrations

Bring your own device (BYOD) has been commonplace in the workplace for years. It is now up to IT services to utilise innovations and operation mobility to remain up to date with security methods. Data segregation and technology roadmaps are helping to maintain this level of understanding so accurate monitoring can occur.

Many businesses seek to build processes that reflect our growing use of mobile devices and technology-adding value principles. Integrations between digital and physical experiences such as online to offline purchases, therefore, will be on the agenda for a healthy number of organisations. 

Today’s methodology revolves around creating agile systems and combining traditional IT practices alongside the introduction of innovative actions.

An IT strategy provides clarity of direction and helps with long-term cybersecurity planning. Check out our recent article on how to get your security strategy relevant and cybersecure in 2018.