The connectedness of today’s digital world has facilitated collaboration and increased agility across geographies, however, it has significantly increased cyber threats.
By Neelesh Kripalani
As companies embrace digital transformation, cyber security needs to be more than just an afterthought. While adopting emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and Cloud, cyber security needs to be an integral part of the technology roadmap.
The connectedness of today’s digital world has facilitated collaboration and increased agility across geographies, however, it has significantly increased cyber threats. As per a recent report by Data Security Council of India (DSCI), India has been the second most cyber-attacks affected country from 2016 to 2018. Almost 76% organizations in India were hit by online attacks in 2018.
As per research, one of the biggest reason for the rise in security breach cases is that organizations do not incorporate cybersecurity in their digital transformation roadmap. According to a recent study by Frost & Sullivan, around 83 per cent of organizations in the Asia Pacific region do not consider cybersecurity while embarking on digital transformation projects.
Enterprises are increasingly becoming aware of the risk posed by security breaches and, thus performing regular breach assessment, however, the question is – is this enough? As more digital technologies are being built into the business, the more chances of security breaches are opening up. Organizations are becoming vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS), Man-in-the-Middle (MitM), phishing, data exfiltration and impersonation. These attacks have long-lasting adverse effects on the productivity and profitability of the business.
Here are the top 5 cybersecurity practices that an organization can adopt to safeguard their business-critical data and processes:
Data Encryption – Encryption is defined as, “the translation of data into a secret code.” Data encryption is an effective way of securing data. To read an encrypted file, one must have access to a secret key or password that enables them to decrypt it. Hacking and selling of corporate data is a very lucrative prospect for hackers. Hence, not encrypting corporate data on organization servers is like inviting robbers into the company.
Data Masking – Data masking is a method of creating a structurally similar but inauthentic version of an organization’s original data. Data masking is helpful when performing real-world testing. In a testing environment, there is a risk of exposing sensitive data to non-production users such as application developers and external consultants. However, in order to perform accurate testing, non-production users need to have access to some of the original data but not all. Hence, data masking provides a functional substitute for the original data.
Data Redaction – For safeguarding sensitive data in a production environment, redaction is used to easily disguise it using different styles. By definition, data redaction is the process of suppressing sensitive data such as any personally identifiable information. Redaction allows organizations to transform sensitive information into patterns that aren’t comprehensible. For instance, one could replace Aadhaar numbers with a pattern like XXXX-XXXX-XXXX.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – MFA is a must-have solution for advanced security strategies. MFA is a critical tool for protecting organizations from identity theft. By implementing this organization-wide, the security of the traditional username and password login is supplemented by an additional measure. With MFA, a TOTP (time-based one-time password) token is generated from a smartphone or other device. This token TOTP is required for access. In effect, a user now needs two pieces of information to access their IT resource: something they know (a password) along with something they have (a unique token generated by a smartphone).
Privileged Identity Management – Hardly a day goes by when there isn’t news of a new data breach. While monitoring external footprints is critical, it is equally important to mitigate insider threats. Organizations need to ensure that superuser accounts are not misused. Unmonitored superuser accounts can lead to loss or theft of sensitive data. Hence, it is important to establish tools and processes for such accounts by provisioning tools or specialized PIM products.
(The author is Sr. VP and Head – Center of Excellence (CoE), Clover Infotech)