Defending Cyber Warfare in the 2020s: Cybersecurity in Digital Transformation

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: May 21, 2021

The processes behind digital transformation and the way data is handled in the present day have grown to become more and more sensitive as technology evolves. The ever-present threat of cyber attacks is not only present in our day-to-day, but it’s imperative to keep top of mind as you implement new systems and migrate data in order to ensure the integrity and sustainability of your company going forward.

Cybersecurity is imperative for any functional business, and it’s an integral factor in a successful digital transformation. There are both legal and technological perspectives on data and how data is affected by an ERP implementation. What once were simple confidentiality issues or trade secret issues have become a myriad of different and complicated ways that businesses can become easy targets.

Believe it or not, 50% to 60% of all organizations have suffered or will likely suffer from some sort of data breach. In today’s world, it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when said incidents will occur. The best thing a business can do to prevent itself from falling into this category is to get ahead on their cybersecurity efforts. Whether it be a concern of liability, damages, reputation, or all of the above, a strong plan for ERP implementation and integration is said to be the safest course of action.

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The software selection a company lands on, whether an ERP or a niche software like a CRM or HCM system, is a large component of the success of an overall digital transformation. However, it’s important to think of data as the water for the pipes. Without the data, a new ERP software will do nothing for an organization. Regardless, data seemingly continues to be a wrongly underserved aspect of an end-to-end digital transformation.

Cyber Threats of this Decade

If you think about it, cybersecurity isn’t a technology issue, it’s a data issue. It can just as easily occur in the physical realm as it can in the technological realm. Covering all bases and having a measured approach for how to deal with a breach is what will account for a business’ survivability.

The rate of cyber-attacks has increased significantly. It was in 2013 when cyberattacks fell into just a few categories - fraud, theft, deception, data misuse, and irritation. Today’s cyber attacks can come in an alarming number of forms:

  1. Hacking
  2. Network intrusions
  3. Denial-of-service and distributed denial-of-service
  4. Crypto-jacking
  5. Data theft
  6. Phishing
  7. Malicious software and ransomware

These seven threats translate to a need for seven established protocols required for a business to succeed in this day and age.

As the rate of cyberthreats goes up, it’s also important to take initiative in protecting your company and your personal data, for that matter, on your own. Today, there is essentially no federal law on data privacy in the United States and around many parts of the world. What’s currently in place is rather a patchwork of individual and state laws that have no real blanketed effect. With that said, there is currently a movement towards federal legislation for data privacy and security in the US, and it’s quickly falling on everyone’s radar around the world to help mitigate cybersecurity risks.

When that eventually happens in the next few years, businesses will need to have the right provisions in place in terms of confidentiality, warranties, and insurance. Having a physical contract with a certain level of specificity is highly suggested, along with working alongside a specialized team well versed in cybersecurity such as consultants, software vendors, info tech support, admin support, independent contractors, and most importantly, lawyers.

Navigating Areas of Vulnerability

Cybersecurity is a tricky thing to navigate and it’s important to recognize the areas of your business that are vulnerable to intrusion. The most common weaknesses for a business are unpatched vulnerabilities such as the following:

  • Unsecure software or hardware configurations
  • Outdated anti-malware controls
  • Weak network controls
  • Lack of monitoring
  • Unsecure vendor environments

Having a detailed contract that specifies who’s responsible for any one event and holds the responsible party accountable is critical. For example, a clearly defined vendor contract that states responsibility is on the vendor in the case of a data breach as it pertains to their services that are tied to your company is what can save you in the face of a cyberattack.

Without the legal contract, a business could be breaking laws and face major liabilities. Even with an MSSP, or Managed Security Service Provider, your business is still only 90% protected. The other 10% falls into the unknown or hasn’t yet happened, and failure to plan and mitigate increases the likelihood of a breach.

In any digital transformation, a business should have a strong strategy for how to implement their new software, and within that strategy needs to be a clear plan that ensures data security. With nearly 100% of present-day businesses having an internet presence, competition is fierce. A secure business process will build customer trust where it is visible externally, such as on your website. Customer trust builds customer loyalty, and with that a business can build on their competitive edge. Without proper security measures in place, a business could go extinct due to the legal ramifications of a breach, and in turn, the loss of consumer trust. Furthermore, data security done right provides better knowledge of data and easier access to data which will ultimately drive efficiencies as well. At the core, the question is - how will your business be affected by an event, and how will your customers react to an event?

Whether from a legal, technology, or even a customer experience perspective, the focus should be on survivability and what will keep your organization moving forward into the decade and beyond. In a world where businesses used to be fine with one person running the front lines of data security, businesses and organizations now need a team of personnel to handle the many aspects of cybersecurity. As it pertains to an ERP implementation, data is both what’s needed for and what’s needed from the implementation, and it’s data migration and conversion that will have a major impact on the success of a digital transformation. The different touchpoints of cybersecurity can make or break a business, and in an ever-evolving social and technological world, it’s best to get ahead before you don’t know what hit you.

If you have questions on how you can secure your business and protect your data, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly. I am happy to be an informal sounding board to help you protect your organization in this new, technologically driven world.

Kimberling Eric Blue Backgroundv2
Eric Kimberling

Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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