Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity: How to Strike a Balance

June 20, 2022

We’ve all heard a lot about digital transformation. We seldom hear about digital transformation and cybersecurity in the same sentence—but we should.

Most companies think about digitizing their business in terms of the technologies they’ll embrace, the channels they’ll open, and the time and money they’ll save. That’s great. The benefits of making the leap are immense. In fact, companies that still haven’t even begun going digital probably won’t survive much longer because their more tech-savvy competitors are miles ahead of them in their ability to remain flexible to customer needs.

But lost in all the excitement is the need to implement an appropriate level of cybersecurity. When you launch a digital transformation initiative, there’s the potential that you expose your organization to new ways of being attacked by cyber criminals.

In a recent Ponemon survey:

    • More than 80 percent of organizations reported that they believed they had experienced at least one data breach as the result of their digital shift.
    • Only 29 percent of respondents said their organizations are “very prepared” to counter the leading cyber threats related to that shift.

Let’s explore why digital transformation and cybersecurity must go hand in hand.


The Two Types of Digital Transformation

There are typically two ways companies start utilizing digital technologies (and some companies do both). The first way is to buy software that automates what used to be manual processes. For example, in the early 2000s, the Meaningful Use incentive program pushed healthcare organizations to start using electronic health records rather than paper-based ones. Even outside of healthcare, companies in all industries have moved to eliminate printouts and make data available on desktop and mobile devices—from anywhere.

The second way is to digitize the products and services you offer your customers. A healthcare organization might deploy an app that lets customers ask medical questions and get basic answers online. Banks have long offered online account information to their customers. Companies in every industry let customers pay bills online.

Where do digital transformation and cybersecurity intersect? Companies should have cybersecurity top-of-mind at all times. If they’re using digital solutions to transform their internal processes, they should carefully evaluate each piece of software they buy for its cybersecurity features. If they’re developing customer-facing applications, they need to involve their cybersecurity team from the earliest stages of planning. By the time a company has launched an application, it may be too late to ask the cybersecurity team, “How can we make this secure?” because data breaches may have already occurred.


Your First Step in Securing Data

The recent pandemic has only accelerated companies’ digital acceleration and intensified the need for stringent cybersecurity. Most organizations know to look for cybersecurity features in the software they buy to streamline internal processes, but many still neglect the need to build these features into their own customer-facing applications.

What’s the cure? The first thing you can do is make sure each department in your organization has a good relationship with your IT organization. There should be no secrets, and there’s no need for antagonism. Any team that’s building a customer-facing app should open the cybersecurity conversation with IT from the beginning—not run to IT after the fact and ask them to “secure” the app.

Make sure your chief security officer and head of product engineering coordinate so that members of the cybersecurity team can be present in all product planning meetings. Use this collaboration as the foundation of a culture of compliance and security in your organization. Ensure that everyone is building products on a security framework such as privacy by design. Whatever you do, don’t let digital transformation and cybersecurity become an afterthought.


Find Out More in Our Upcoming Webinar

We have much more to say about digital transformation and cybersecurity, so we’re hosting a webinar on the topic. Join us to learn how professionals in the healthcare, insurance, and financial services industries have tackled the challenge of keeping data secure while remaining flexible to changing customer needs.

Register to join us

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Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity: How to Strike a Balance