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Digitization is sweeping across virtually all sectors of the economy. Most products and services now have a digital aspect, such as performance tracking of the product or of its user, or linking simple services together like ordering food online that is delivered by a rideshare driver. As businesses integrate digitization into their overall corporate strategy, they need to evolve their risk management and mitigation strategies to assess, plan and protect against a wider variety of risks from the expanded attack surface.

The stakes are high. Cisco’s 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report revealed that 29 percent of the 3,000 IT professionals surveyed admitted having a cyber event in the past year that cost them revenue, either short or long term. Thirty-eight percent of those said their losses exceeded 20 percent. While a large company can most likely recover from such a big hit, for a smaller company it can be devastating. In companies both large and small, breaches have a huge impact on brand reputation and customer retention, with the research showing a 26 percent hit for both groups.

Consequently, a new approach to risk management is required, and it must start at the top. Thorough situational awareness is imperative for leadership to understand what specific risks an intended business strategy carries. Is the risk carried by one organization, or is it shared with multiple partners’ entities? How could it impact the whole company brand? Which of these risks is leadership willing to take on, and what is the company’s current ability to mitigate them? To answer these questions, those in charge must understand the role of data in their business environment and thoughtfully plan for how different actions can impact their overall business objectives.

The CISO, once looked to solely for back-office issues, now has a critical role in helping to articulate and assess these variables so that leadership can make sound business decisions. Those decisions will guide all subsequent steps in formulating and executing the corporate strategy. They become the North Star of the entire security team, confirming the agreed upon risk profile to be taken for a given line of business or even the whole company. They also form the basis of threat modeling; for instance, what regions are you going into with what products, who there would want to do you harm, what motives do they have, and in what ways could they harm you? Your security strategy can then be designed against those actual risks.

A four-pillar security approach that encompasses partnership, people, process, and technology enables situational awareness for all strategic decision-making and addresses risks across the enterprise.



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