Digital transformation includes a variety of phases, and most organizations have been driving their digital transformations one step at a time. The first stage of digital transformation was centered around adoption of business applications and making the switch to managed services. This was the driver for increased migration and usage of the cloud and adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) technologies. Now, we are experiencing a newer phase of digital transformation where organizations are taking old, often manual processes, and converting it to newer, automated processes, one that is more digital by default. With availability of large scale digital data management platforms, the use of multi-cloud infrastructures and even artificial intelligence technologies, IT leaders are able to rapidly modernize the old business processes, such as claims and loans processing, to increase business efficiency and best leverage data that the organization is generating.
Companies are now going to be asking: How can we leverage digital technology to streamline processes for our business units and customers? But, they also need to be asking themselves: How can we ensure that our new digital processes remain secure? When an organization moves to a digital process, bad actors take note and follow that new approach, opening your organization up to increased risk and more threats, not less.
SEE: Cybersecurity: Organizations face key obstacles in adopting zero trust (TechRepublic)
Examples of digital process transformation
Many organizations have taken major strides to digitize their business processes for back office operations, supply chain partners collaborations and customer experiences. On the customer experience front, we see organizations leveraging AI chatbots to answer questions, retrieve information, or even allow customers to easily upload files. For example, consider Lemonade, a fairly new insurance company that has new and existing customers engaging with a chatbot—Maya and Jim—rather than a human agent. Lemonade’s chatbots even help customers process claims in an easy-to-use app and digital format.
In regards to back office processes and supply chain collaborations, organizations are leveraging automation and advanced technologies to streamline business workflows. Consider your organization’s accounting department, many businesses are making investments in API-based software and technologies that automate the payroll processing functions, allowing these employees to focus on more important tasks.
These new processes allow for businesses to reduce manual workloads and enhance operational efficiency. Yes, they save time, increase productivity, minimize errors and even reduce costs. But, they also come with a slew of security risks that can have devastating impacts on an organization if not addressed properly.
The expanded attack surface and increased risk
One thing that these digital processes have in common is that they will require increased reliance on new API-centric software and services, deploying digital collaboration platforms and adopting customer-facing portals, all of which are feeding grounds for hackers. Every time your organization implements a new digital process, hackers are taking notes. Are you integrating more APIs? Exchanging file content from new sources? Onboarding more third-party partners and vendors? Increasing usage of the cloud and other content-rich applications? More than likely, hackers are already actively looking for ways to compromise your digital interactions through these new avenues.
SEE: Get a CompTIA cybersecurity education online for an in-demand career (TechRepublic Academy)
Now, more than ever before, organizations are at an increased risk of unknown and evasive malware compromising new digital processes. In recent months, we have witnessed bad actors develop advanced obfuscation techniques, allowing them to transfer hidden, unknown threats through these processes and services. Researchers have already identified multiple groups leveraging some of these techniques, including Russian-linked threat actors. Just early this year, Gamaredon launched cyberattacks against the Ukrainian government utilizing many of these techniques. The group delivered malicious macro attachments via email and web upload portals to target recipients that evaded detection as well as using a dynamic Windows function hashing algorithm to map necessary API components.
Zero Trust content security is the answer
The Zero Trust model has rightfully become a popular framework for security, particularly in the government and highly regulated businesses handling sensitive data and intellectual property. The Biden administration issued executive orders requiring federal agencies to pledge to move all government systems to a zero trust strategy by the end of fiscal year 2024. However, Zero Trust is not just for the federal government, and is a step in the right direction that all organizations should be working towards.
A Zero Trust framework can help organizations create a more holistic approach to security and mitigate risk to new threats posed by digital process transformations. However, there is no one single technology that secures every aspect of a company’s IT infrastructure and organizations need to discover and implement the right set of security solutions. Organizations need to ensure that they deploy security as an API-centric service that addresses content security, identity and access management, endpoint security, application security and data security. With these security controls working together, organizations can develop a robust security posture that addresses the dynamic nature of the threat landscape. When implementing new processes, organizations need to ensure that they have a Zero Trust Content Security solution that can easily integrate with the new business process to ensure secure user productivity and business continuity, while proactively protecting against emerging threats targeting your digital business transformation.
Ravi Srinivasan, CEO, Votiro – With more than 25 years of experience in cybersecurity and technology transformations, Ravi leads Votiro as CEO. Votiro’s mission is to make every digital file safe for users to access regardless of how it got to them. Prior to Votiro, Ravi held several product and marketing leadership roles at Forcepoint, IBM, Synopsys and Texas Instruments.