It’s another notch in the relentless pursuit of rapid agility

By Tallen Harmsen, head of cyber security at IndigoCube

Keeping your enterprise cyber security resources separate from your business risk resources is steadily becoming more of a competitive disadvantage as a growing number of organisations digitalise.

The combined potential of these two units promotes the speed, flexibility and agility that also underpin the drive toward digitalisation. The digital world is highly connected and automated, which exposes businesses to a growing cyber security threat increasingly connected to business risks.

Rampant cyber security issues are not news. Ransomware, information leaks, corporate espionage and even nation state actions routinely make the news these days. Business risks are also old hat. Mention corruption in South Africa and you’ll likely get a few stifled yawns. Partner disputes, accounting discrepancies and more are just daily grist for the business risk mill.

Enterprises today must take care of all of these issues as a basic minimum. That’s why they have Security Operations Centres (SOC) for their cyber security issues, and business risk analysis and mitigation resources at their disposal.

But, until now, these resources have operated separately. It’s understandable why that’s been the case. IT security has always been firewalls to keep the bad guys out, anti-virus software to take care of the clichéd spotty-faced teen’s coding fantasies, and roles-based access for little more than preventing employees from spying one another’s salaries and a few features besides.

But that’s changed in the digitalised world. Business processes are increasingly automated and therefore increasingly intertwined with IT systems. The processes are increasingly connected to the Internet, in one form or another, to ensure that customers can interact directly with them. That necessarily means the data must be exposed, even if you think it’s secure from hackers, so that customers outside the corporate network can view it and change it. It’s not just a theory, any longer, that hackers can do the same. SQL injections and other attacks are standard drill hackers use to access connected databases chock full of customer details.

These connected IT systems are also now, for the first time, regulated by a raft of compliance directives that make businesses, and the businesspeople who run them, responsible for protecting that information. And so IT security has not so subtly become a pressing business issue.

So, while business is at risk now because of the relentless march of IT innovation, also interacting with the IT security environment has become a business issue. Fortunately the relentless march of IT innovation has been matched by the simultaneous advance of cyber security skills so IT is in a position to positively respond to that demand for interaction. Monitoring, detection, analyses, and action – in other words, active participation – have become part of the cyber security resources retinue as opposed to the largely static perimeter defences of the past. IT can actually contribute, meaningfully, to helping stop nefarious activities in its standard security realm, but also the traditional business risk arena, through its forensics and additional capabilities.

But these two units haven’t typically pooled their resources for a more rapid, flexible, and agile business capability, even though they already rely on much the same information to kneecap their respective risks. Like the partners in a bad marriage, they struggle to communicate. Any information sharing is typically done by a request being elevated all the way up one silo then down the other with the requested information returning via the same route. It takes ludicrously long compared with the bad guys’ ability to pivot within hours, minutes, and even seconds because they are doing what the listless couple cannot – collaborating.

Fusion centres are the place where IT’s cyber security experts and business’ risk analyses and mitigation specialists work together to be fast, flexible, and agile. And they save the business a bundle while they’re giving a much better service that makes organisations much more competitive.

It’s a no-brainer when you, ironically, think about it.