The Business Imperative of Cybersecurity

In today’s digital landscape, the escalating frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks have left organizations reeling. No longer confined to specific industries, cybercriminals now target organizations of all sizes, seeking vulnerable entry points to exploit. As traditional security approaches falter, the need for a comprehensive and holistic cybersecurity strategy becomes apparent. When it comes to cybersecurity, it is time to start thinking differently.

The Frustration of Securing the Enterprise

We have all seen the alarming statistics concerning the rise in cybersecurity attacks. A finding from the most recent IBM Data Breach Report sums it up in one disturbing indicator. An astonishing 83% of organizations experienced more than one data breach during 2022. Let that soak in for a moment. That is not just one breach, nor is the maximum two. Worse, the assaults have continued at the same pace into this year and are projected to accelerate as we move forward. According to data from IT Governance, there were some 42 million records compromised in March 2023 alone.

You’ve heard the adage that the right tools make all the difference, and they do. But tools alone aren’t sufficient to protect against the variety of threats in the world today. For instance, your home can have the most sophisticated alarm system but if family members continue to leave the door unlocked, the system’s effectiveness is undermined. Your organization can have cutting-edge tools to protect itself against financial or legal risks, but if it fails to stay updated on changing laws, regularly review financial statements, or stay abreast of changing market trends, you can quickly expose yourself to unnecessary vulnerabilities. Protecting your organization against risks, be it financial, legal, or security, takes vigilance. Tools help, but if they are not aligned to a security strategy, they will never achieve the intended goals.

CEOs are naturally attuned to any threats to their organization, and several recent surveys rank cybersecurity among the top three business risks. As a result, they, and other business leaders have experienced a progression in response to the demands of cybersecurity. I have witnessed this journey firsthand. What began as concern has morphed into frustration and, in some cases, has manifested into a sense of helplessness. This stems from the recognition that defeating cybercriminals and hackers cannot be achieved through tools alone. When you look at organizations today, they still follow the traditional model where half of the cybersecurity budget is allocated to prevention and the other half for post-attack remediation. This 50-50 distribution is untenable in the long run.

Every Organization is a Prime Target

I’ve talked to CEOs of organizations of all sizes that were brought down by ransomware and other cybersecurity incidents, incidents for which they were totally unprepared. Regrettably, countless organizations operate under the misconception that primarily financial institutions, healthcare organizations, and governmental bodies are in the crosshairs of cybercriminals. However, perpetrators don’t exclusively target the largest enterprises with the perceived biggest pockets or greatest sources of data. The stark reality is that all organizations are potential targets for cyber threat actors who often are simply looking for easy financial gain.

The Foe is Formidable

Businesses must worry about all sorts of risks initiated by other people. There is the risk of reputational damage that a disgruntled employee or unhappy customer can levy using social media. For a corporation, the threat of a hostile takeover could be very real as the outside party quietly acquires shares and alliances to force a change of leadership. An organized legal assault could be used by someone to delay projects, drain resources, or tarnish the reputation of a business. None of these abrasive actions are ever announced, which is why you must prepare for them.

In most cases, we aren’t just fighting a lone hacker in their basement. Instead, we are combatting highly organized and well financed organizations that have the means to launch attacks at organizations of every size and industry. These organizations are as formidable as a corporate raider that may attempt to seize control of your business. In this case, cybercriminals are attempting to seize control of your data. To compound matters, nation states such as China, Russia and North Korea are increasing the aggressiveness of cyberattacks against the West according to the 2022 Microsoft Digital Defense Report. At a time when Microsoft is launching a national campaign to fill the dearth of security talent in the world today, some cybercriminal organizations are recruiting top talent at universities and luring them with high pay, bonuses and benefits. They are even recruiting your own employees and hiring project managers to coordinate their malicious objectives. Concurrently, many companies have cut security staffs or frozen hiring as a result of cost cutting measures.  The result is that we are making it easier for the hackers to succeed, not harder.

The Learning Curve of Cyber Defense

In today’s world, it doesn’t take much for a cyber threat actor to compromise a system within your network. In June of 2023, some of the largest corporations in the world were breached by a Russian ransomware gang that exploited a third-party file transfer utility used by some of its employees. Cybercriminals are constantly adapting new attack strategies to take advantage of newly discovered vulnerabilities, exploits, technologies, and events. While generative AI tools such as ChatGPT show great promise for cybersecurity efforts, these tools are actually more dangerous than helpful right now as the bad guys are ahead of the learning curve in understanding how to manipulate these AI tools to their own advantage. It is clear that we need to get ahead of the curve and stop relying on a responsive mindset when it comes to cyberattacks. Remember, if we are responding, they are already in.

Data Breaches are Only the Beginning

While data breaches and ransomware are dominant in the headlines, there exists a broader array of considerations concerning cybersecurity.

  • The cost of cyber insurance is exponentially growing for those organizations that can still qualify for it due to the mounting losses experienced by the insurers.
  • Traditional security approaches and tools lack visibility and scope into multi-cloud and hybrid architectures, thus creating security gaps that are easily exploited.
  • Digital enterprises are a mesh of interconnected vendors, suppliers, and partners, opening companies up to third-party risks and supply chain attacks.
  • Remediation costs are only the beginning as companies must work diligently to restore brand reputation and customer trust after an attack.
  • Insider threats, whether driven by malice or unintentional, are just as serious as external threats.
  • Legal liabilities and compliance regulations continue to mount, increasing business risk.

Because of these issues and our inevitable march towards a deeper digital footprint, I believe that cybersecurity demands a prominent place on the leadership and board’s agenda, warranting recognition as a strategic priority. Beyond regulatory compliance, it represents a pivotal aspect of risk management for any organization. Cybersecurity needs to be viewed as a business challenge because business cannot operate within an unsafe environment. Business leaders need to recognize that cybersecurity transcends being solely an IT issue, but instead assumes the role of a critical business function necessitating consistent investment to safeguard the organization’s integrity and operations.

Our Holistic Approach to Cybersecurity

If the traditional security approaches and strategies are not effective, then what is the alternative? At Evolving Solutions, we believe it is important to shift from relying on technology-only providers. The right solution is important, but the right security strategy, combined with a comprehensive understanding of the intersection of your business and IT environments is equally vital for your organization to be safe and secure. This is Evolving Solutions unique value. For years, we have partnered with our clients to enhance, manage, and safeguard their DevOps and IT operations environments, enabling a steady flow of innovative code for software developers and operation managers. Given our work with a wide range of industries, there’s barely a scenario we haven’t encountered.

Our clients often derive significant benefits from our tabletop exercises where we guide their teams through various security scenarios and discuss immediate response strategies to counteract potential threats. These exercises provide them with a dress rehearsal of what will be an inevitable occurrence one day. Yes, we advocate investing in security tools/technology, however we stress the importance of people and process more. The only way we are going to curtail the menace of cyber threats is if we approach cybersecurity with a uniform commitment. That’s why everyone in your organization must actively participate in cybersecurity. Each person you employ should contribute to cultivating a culture of security, and we can guide you on how to nurture this commitment by educating your team members on what threats look like and how they can be addressed before they cause disruption to business operations. By increasing the resiliency of your workforce, you increase the resiliency of your organization.

It is going to take a grand effort to bend the curve of cyber threats and Evolving Solutions has the expertise, strategy, philosophy, and experience to coordinate and help execute on a strategy that is aligned to your organization’s business goals and risk appetite. I invite you to explore how we are utilizing advanced technologies, alongside initiatives targeting people and processes, to gain an advantage in what is undeniably one of the defining challenges of our era.

Jaime Gmach

Chief Executive Officer

Jaime Gmach co-founded Evolving Solutions in 1996 and is the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Connect with Jaime on LinkedIn.

Photo of Jaime Gmach

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