Digital Workplace. As with other industries with a high percentage of knowledge workers, BFSI organisations are grappling with granting remote access to staff. Cloud-based collaboration and Fintech tools, BYOD policies, and sensitive data traversing home networks are all creating new challenges for cyber teams. Modern approaches, such as zero trust network access, privilege management, and network segmentation are necessary to ensure workers can seamlessly but securely perform their roles remotely.
Looking Beyond Technology: Evaluating the Adequacy of Compliance-Centric Cyber Strategies
The BFSI industry stands among the most rigorously regulated industries, with scrutiny intensifying following every collapse or notable breach. Cyber and data protection teams shoulder the responsibility of understanding the implications of and adhering to emerging data protection regulations in areas such as GDPR, PCI-DSS, SOC 2, and PSD2. Automating compliance procedures emerges as a compelling solution to streamline processes, mitigate risks, and curtail expenses. Technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), low-code development, and continuous compliance monitoring are gaining prominence.
The adoption of AI to enhance security is still emerging but will accelerate rapidly. Ecosystm research shows that within the next two years, nearly 70% of BFSI organisations will have invested in SecOps. AI can help Security Operations Centres (SOCs) prioritise alerts and respond to threats faster than could be performed manually. Additionally, the expanding variety of network endpoints, including customer devices, ATMs, and tools used by frontline employees, can embrace AI-enhanced protection without introducing additional onboarding friction.
However, there is a need for BFSI organisations to look beyond compliance checklists to a more holistic cyber approach that can prioritise cyber measures continually based on the risk to the organisations. And this is one of the biggest challenges that BFSI CISOs face. Ecosystm research finds that 72% of cyber and technology leaders in the industry feel that there is limited understanding of cyber risk and governance in their organisations.
In fact, BFSI organisations must look at the interconnectedness of an intelligence-led and risk-based strategy. Thorough risk assessments let organisations prioritise vulnerability mitigation effectively. This targeted approach optimises security initiatives by focusing on high-risk areas, reducing security debt. To adapt to evolving threats, intelligence should inform risk assessment. Intelligence-led strategies empower cybersecurity leaders with real-time threat insights for proactive measures, actively tackling emerging threats and vulnerabilities – and definitely moving beyond compliance-focused strategies.
Businesses need a new way to manage the devices and applications of their remote employees. They need to be able to extend the benefits of the WAN to them without the downsides of VPNs. Every business we interviewed saw benefits of bringing devices, locations and offices inside the WAN. Turning every device and office into a Branch of One.
A few security and network technologies have promised this capability – SDNs can offer a similar service, but they require client software to be installed. 78% of businesses we interviewed are using VPNs to bring devices inside the WAN – but again, they require client software, and can be inconsistent (and insecure!) on mobile devices.
Companies that embrace the Branch of One can provision new users in a few clicks. No software to install, no cables to connect, no hardware to provision – it makes life easier for technology and security professionals. The Branch of One gives your employees the systems and data they need to get their job done – delivered securely across the mobile network.
Download the report based on ‘The Global CxO Study 2020: The Future of the Secure Office Anywhere’, conducted by Ecosystm on behalf of Asavie. The report presents the key findings of the study and analyses the market perceptions of Office Anywhere and the need for a ‘Branch of One’, which will be the foundation of enterprise mobile security in the future.
Why should a CEO get involved in and have visibility into an organisation’s Cloud investments? There are a few important reasons.
#1 Cloud is not a cost-saving measure – it will enable you to transform
Organisations have matured in their Cloud adoption and no longer evaluate the benefits of Cloud only in terms of shifting CapEx to OpEx. If we look at the benefits of Cloud adoption, reduction of IT costs is not even in the top 3 benefits that organisations are seeking from Cloud anymore. Operational efficiency and collaboration emerge as key benefits (Figure 1) – while some companies still move to the Cloud for the savings, they stay there for other benefits.
This requires organisations to think of Cloud as a technology empowering their infrastructure and services. Cloud acts as an enabler for ease of doing business, real-time data access for productivity increase, and process automation. This impacts the entire organisation. It also involves prioritising the needs of certain functions over others – definitely not what a CIO should have to do.
If we look at just Cloud storage as an example, organisations can no longer have individual functions and their associated shadow IT teams having their own Cloud storage (and collaboration). This often turns out to be more expensive and there is a lack of consolidated view and management. While organisations forge ahead with the dream of having real-time information sharing across functions, a CIO has to consider the entire organisation’s technological and business needs – a CEO is the best person to guide the CIO in translating the organisation’s vision into IT priorities.
#2 In fact Cloud adoption may not cut costs at all!
Organisations are also re-evaluating the cost benefits of Cloud. Investing in a Cloud infrastructure with a short-term view on the investments involved has led to instances of Cloud solutions being brought back in-house because of rising costs. While security, data privacy and integration remain the key challenges of Cloud adoption (Figure 2), over a third of the organisations find Cloud more expensive than traditional licensing or owning the hardware.
Organisations find that the cost considerations do not stop after the adoption or migration. As businesses use Cloud to scale, there are several aspects that require constant re-evaluation and often further investments – cybersecurity measures, continuous data protection (CDP), disaster recovery management, rightsizing capacity, software and database licenses and day-to-day maintenance, to name a few. In addition to this, the cost of finding and recruiting a team of professionals to manage and maintain the Cloud environment also adds up to the OpEx.
If the CIO is talking about a Cloud migration for cost benefits only, the CEO and the CFO need to step in to evaluate that all factors have been taken into consideration. Moreover, the CIO may not have full visibility of how and where the organisation is looking to scale up or down. It is the CEO’s responsibility to share that vision with the CIO to guide Cloud investments.
#3 Cloud will increasingly be part of all tech adoption considerations
In this disruptive world, CEOs should explore possibilities and understand the technical capabilities which can give organisations an edge over their competitors. It is then up to the CIOs to implement that vision with this larger context in mind. As organisations look to leverage emerging technologies, organisations will adopt Cloud to optimise their resources and workloads.
AI is changing the way organisations need to store, process and analyse the data to derive useful insights and decision-making practices. This is pushing the adoption of Cloud, even in the most conservative organisations. Cloud is no longer only required for infrastructure and back-up – but actually improving business processes, by enabling real-time data and systems access. Similarly, IoT devices will grow exponentially. Today, data is already going into the Cloud and data centres on a real-time basis from sensors and automated devices. However, as these devices become bi-directional, decisions will need to be made in real-time as well. Edge Computing will be essential in this intelligent and automated world. Cloud platform vendors are building on their edge solutions and tech buyers are increasingly getting interested in the Edge allowing better decision-making through machine learning and AI.
In view of the recent global crisis, we will see a sharp uptake of Cloud solutions across tech areas. IaaS will remain the key area of focus in the near future, especially Desktop-as-as-Service. Organisations will also look to evaluate more SaaS solutions, in order to empower a mobile and remote workforce. This will allow the workforce of the future to stay connected, informed and make more decisions. More than ever, CEOs have to drive business growth with innovative products and services – not understanding the capabilities and challenges of Cloud adoption and the advancements in the technology can be a serious handicap for CEOs.
#4 Your IT Team may be more complacent about Cloud security than you think
Another domain that requires the CEO’s attention is cybersecurity. The Cloud is used for computing operations and to store data including, intellectual property rights, financial information, employee details and other sensitive data. Cybersecurity breaches have immense financial and reputational implications and IT Teams cannot solely be responsible for it. Cybersecurity has become a Board-level conversation and many organisations are employing a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who reports directly into the CEO. Cybersecurity is an aspect of an organisation’s risk management program.
Evaluating the security features of the Cloud offerings, therefore, becomes an important aspect of an IT decision-maker’s job. While security remains a key concern when it comes to Cloud adoption, Cloud is often regarded as a more secure option than on-premise. Cloud providers have dedicated security focus, constantly upgrade their security capabilities in response to newer threats and evolve their partner ecosystem. There is also better traceability with the Cloud as every virtual activity can be tracked, monitored, and logged. Ecosystm research finds that more than 40% of IT decision-makers think the Public Cloud has enough security measures and does not need complementing (Figure 3).
However, the Cloud is as secure as an organisation makes it. The perception that there is no need to supplement Public Cloud security features can have disastrous outcomes. It is important to supplement the Cloud provider’s security with event-driven security measures within an organisation’s applications and cloud interface.
It is the job of the CEO – through the CISO – to evaluate how cyber ready the IT Team really is. Do they know enough about shared responsibility? Do they have full cognizance of the SLAs of their Cloud providers? Do they have sufficient internal cybersecurity skills? Do they understand that data breaches can have cost and reputational impacts? As cybersecurity breaches begin to have more financial implications than ever and can derail an organisation, a CEO should have visibility of the risks of the organisation’s Cloud adoption.
Cloud is no longer just a technological decision – it is a business decision and takes into account the organisation’s vision. A full visibility of the Cloud roadmap – including the pitfalls, the risks and the immense potential – will empower a CEO immensely.
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A real challenge that all organisations face is skills shortage. However, it is time to align business and security strategies and look beyond IT for security analysts – professionals who can translate what the Board’s priorities are into defining the security strategy.
#3 Do you have a dedicated Cybersecurity Role?
While the Board will often be involved in evaluating the risk exposure of an organisation, there is need for a dedicated role that can traverse both the business and the technological needs in deciding the right cybersecurity framework.
Organisations should have a dedicated responsibility for their cybersecurity practice – the CISO/CSO is the key data protection lead in mature organisations (Figure 3). CISOs should be reporting into the CFO, Chief Risk Officer or the CEO and not the CIO to avoid a conflict of interest. Alex says, “While the most common reporting line for CISOs is still to the CIO, there is a fundamental conflict of interest with this model – being part of the risk function, or reporting directly to the CEO, provides the level of independence required for good governance of cyber risk.”
The reality is that many organisations – especially small and medium enterprises that have small dedicated security teams – will find it difficult to appoint a dedicated CSO/CISO. The study also finds that 80% of evolving organisations have less than 10 employees in their security teams as compared to only a third of mature organisations. Carl Woerndle, Principal Advisor Ecosystm, suggests these organisations look at the option of hiring a vCISO (virtual CISO). “A vCISO can help your organisation deliver a full security program within a fixed budget. Hiring someone external also has the added benefits of bringing objectivity to your security strategies and providing guidance on newer skills and technologies to your security teams.”
#4 Are you aware of Cloud Risk?
Cloud adoption has become mainstream, especially as organisations ramp up their digitalisation initiatives. It adds scale and agility to the organisation’s transformation investments. While security remains a key concern when it comes to cloud adoption, cloud is often regarded as a more secure option than on-premise. Cloud providers have dedicated security focus, constantly upgrade their security capabilities in response to newer threats and evolve their partner ecosystem. There is also better traceability with cloud as every virtual activity can be tracked, monitored, and is loggable.
However, mature organisations not only use on-prem options more for their sensitive data storage (Figure 4), they are also more skeptical about relying only on public cloud security features. Only 34% of mature organisations feel that public cloud security features do not need to be complemented while 52% of evolving organisations share that perception.
The cloud is as secure as an organisation makes it. The perception that there is no need to supplement public cloud security features can have disastrous outcomes. It is important to supplement the cloud provider’s security with event-driven security measures within an organisation’s applications and cloud interface. Alex says, “Assuming the big cloud providers have security covered for you is a huge mistake. Understanding the shared responsibility model is crucial in your public cloud adoption journey. The tools are available – but typically at an extra cost, and you need to employ, configure and continually manage them for effective security.”
The big differentiator between mature and evolving organisations in securing cloud environments is in the use of multi-factor authentication (Figure 5). With 3/4th of mature organisations employing this as a control, it highlights that passwords – even strong passwords – alone, are not sufficient in 2020. Mature organisations are increasingly investing in encryption. But the perception of the complexity in deploying and managing encryption (and the keys) has been a challenge especially for organisations with smaller teams and less in-house technical capabilities.
#5 Are you Breach Ready?
Global organisations generally consider a data breach as inevitable – largely believing that “it is not about if, but when”(Figure 6). All organisations will face some incident, attempted breach or a breach, at some point. It is necessary to have the right cybersecurity measures to avoid breaches – but it is equally important to be prepared for when a breach actually happens. A majority of organisations, regardless of maturity, are worried about (and expect) a breach. For evolving organisations this is a troubling statistic given their use of public cloud with limited security understanding or controls – better education is needed from the public cloud providers but also the security industry.
Breach notification processes need to keep evolving – and they must also include employees. Organisations should be aware of the need for people management during an incident. Policies might be clear and adhered to, but it is substantially harder to train the stakeholders involved, on how they will handle the breach emotionally. It extends to how an organisation manages their welfare both during an incident, and long after the incident response has been closed off.
“Cyber insurance has rapidly become a must-have as part of an organisation’s layered defence. While it provides a layer of support in the event of a breach, you should not rely on it as your only safety net,” Carl adds. “It is also important to ensure that your cyber cover is appropriate to your risks and organisational needs and policies should be evaluated carefully.”
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