How to safeguard business in the cybercrime era?

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As the world has become more connected, so too it has become more vulnerable.

As more data is regularly exchanged between employees, clients, and suppliers as well as families and friends – using technologies that were designed to share information, not to protect it – we must realise that there is a greater need for more human involvement and understanding when it comes to the use of technology.

A wake-up call

As the world reels from onslaught of the WannaCry ransomware attack, many are left asking “how could this have been prevented or at least more quickly contained?” While few of the global stock exchanges and other financial systems were affected, the long-term ramifications are yet to be understood. Experts say that despite the attacks slowing over the weekend, this respite will likely only be brief, and Microsoft itself, has warned that governments around the world should treat it as a “wake-up call.”

What companies must realise, is that fighting cybercrime is not just about having the right preventative software in place; it’s about having the right cyber-risk management team and relevant, proactive plans and processes in place.

Shifting mind-sets

Deloitte Cyber Intelligence Centre Associate Director Paul Orffer, says that in order to become truly resilient to cyberattacks an organisation must shift its mind-set and change how it views cyber-risk and its potential impacts. “It is not just a matter of technology controls, and it’s not just the CIO’s responsibility,” says Orffer, “It requires business transformation that broadens the scope of involvement at the top levels of the company, with a focus on overall business risk.”

Bringing people back

By gaining a broad understanding of attackers’ motives and planning proactively by anticipating potential high-impact scenarios, organisations will be able to reprioritise and refocus their investments with the aim of mitigating likely outcomes.

Orffer adds that it is critical to bring the right business and technical leaders together to evaluate organisational readiness: “The team must be able to develop a list of high-risk cyberattack scenarios that is relevant to their specific business. It is imperative that the members of the team collectively understand the businesses strategy, products, revenue streams, operations, technology, regulation, and the company’s cyber risk program, to identify their both their crown jewels and the greatest risks”

An understanding of the organisations’ processes and activities, in conjunction with the underlying technical environment, will allow the team to model the threats to their specific environment and draw a more realistic picture of the direct and intangible business impacts should the organisation be compromised. In doing so, the organisation can establish a reasonable level of investment in various areas of its cyber risk program. The reality is that an organisation’s budget will never be big enough to prevent every possible incident, but in following a risk-based approach, the organisation will be able to consider and proactively prepare for a number of possible attack scenarios and consequences.

Ensuring readiness

If you base your organisation’s incidence response plan on narrow assumptions, it could fall short during a crisis. Once you have identified what is truly most important to the organisation, you are able to create a readiness plan that includes all the people needed to protect, defend, and recover those things should they be compromised. Orffer says that by establishing broad based cyber-awareness and engagement across your organisation, you will improve your team’s ability to collaborate and react when the cyber incident alarm goes off.

Cyber readiness is not a reactive process, it is a proactive plan of defence. Whether they originate from within or outside of your business, and whether they are aimed at IP, trade secrets, operational disruption, fraud or data theft, cyberattacks typically extend well beyond the technology domain and can have deep and long-lasting effects on an organisation. Says Orffer, “It is critical for every organisation to change the kinds of conversations they are having about cyber risk, and to institute some variation of a secure, vigilant and resilient approach that can ultimately improve their ability to survive and thrive in the face of increasingly likely cyberattacks.”


Paul Orffer | Cyber Intelligence Centre Associate Director | Deloitte | https://www2.deloitte.com/za/en/pages/risk/topics/cybersecurity.html?icid=top_cybersecurity | porffer@deloitte.co.za |


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