Exponential Acceleration and a Good Defense

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3 minute read

As we emerge from the pandemic, I’ve been thinking about the term “exponential acceleration.” Last year, the world saw exponential acceleration play out in real-time as a pandemic engulfed the globe. And, as disruptive as it was, quarantine was the perfect environment for increased innovation. In fact, McKinsey reports that new patents are running at twice the levels of 2019. The drive to remain economically viable and supply necessary services during these unprecedented times forced organizations to grow. Businesses accelerated in the areas of e-commerce, adopted enterprise platforms and developed workflow strategies at breakneck speed to accommodate a remote workforce and continue operations through the pandemic. Speed is top of mind for today’s CEO. 

The digitization of industries across the board is an exciting journey. But it’s not without its threats. As fast as legitimate businesses grow, digital transformation also opens the door to exponential acceleration for cybercriminals. Business leaders must understand their technology and cybersecurity strategy. Because the CEO assumes most of the responsibility for the fallout if there is a breach. 

According to Gartner, good cybersecurity initiatives reduce risk while supporting business resilience and growth goals. Building such a plan is a highly detailed and technical process involving a cross-functional team of leaders within your IT organization. CIOs know this – and they fully understand the importance of a cybersecurity plan – right down to the last detail. CEOs, on the other hand, must understand how that aligns with the business overall. 

Technical information is trickier to communicate than, say marketing or sales information. It’s easy for CIOs who understand technology jargon to drift into the weeds pretty quickly – costing both parties valuable time. When speed is top-of-mind, CEOs don’t have a lot of time. They’re looking to you for information about the company’s cybersecurity strategy in quick, simple-to-understand terms. 

So, what does a CEO want to know their CIO is doing about cybersecurity? Here are my thoughts: 

A well-defined strategy. 

Technology teams need to have the right cybersecurity strategy. It must be as difficult as possible for someone to penetrate – CIOs call it a “Zero Trust” environment. This, according to Gartner Distinguished VP Analyst Neil MacDonald, “is a way of thinking, not a specific technology or architecture. It’s really about zero implicit trust, as that’s what we want to get rid of.”  

Make sure your cybersecurity strategy employs best practices and be ready to drill down when asked. Keep your explanations straightforward and on point. Here are some tactics your CEO is looking for. 

A deep defense. 

Your company’s security strategy must have a deep defense. Cybersecurity teams must work with the reality that a hacker who wants to get in badly enough will get in. Protect your information by walling things off. 

Cyber hackers are typically one step ahead of the organizations defending against them and they often penetrate organizations through the simplest of avenues. Many attacks happen simply because one access point is left unattended. By walling off internal access points, a hacker who’s entered the system through an open door will run into dead ends within the system. 

Keep your secrets – secret. 

Backups should be done in a robust way to keep data a secret. Encrypt sensitive emails and other proprietary information. Like a bank that locks their cash vault and the front door, encryption makes it harder for criminals to decode confidential information if they do get their hands on it. 

Continuous development. 

IT teams already work in a culture of continuous improvement. After all, technology is one of the main drivers in our current culture of exponential acceleration.  

Cyber hackers are also accelerating at the speed of business. Plan for attacks ahead of time so if a breach happens, you can detect and resolve it as quickly as possible. 

A systematic approach.  

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. For every plan have a backup plan. Remain agile enough to shift gears and strategies quickly. 

Companies don’t just keep their data in one cloud – they spread their data across multiple clouds – making it harder for cybercriminals to find that data. Invest in enterprise platforms that connect your software portfolio and the variety of tools available to stop cybercriminals. 

Be brilliant at the basics. 

And, like our cybersecurity team here at Crossfuze always says, be brilliant at the basics. Train end-users in best practices for handling data coming in from outside the organization. Gate hardware assets with tools like a VPN (Virtual Private Networks) – because often all it takes is one mistake to put EVERYTHING at risk. 

Like any department executive, the CIO’s job is to make sound decisions surrounding technology and security. But be mindful that you’ve come up in this world, while your CEO has had a different experience. Communicating your technology and cybersecurity strategy in simple, collaborative terms will ensure that your team continues to align with the business – and help you accelerate your digital transformation journey. 

I hope this article has given you some useful tools to use in your conversations with company leadership. Please reach out if you have anything you’d like to add or share. I’d love to learn about the strategies you’re using in this exponentially accelerating world. 

Cheers 

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