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Putting trust into digital transformation

Almost every major commercial, financial and industrial advancement has been accomplished by the introduction of better, faster, cheaper technology. This year, that might change.

Will technology continue to advance? Of course. But the real enabler is no longer the tech – it is how we capture, share and use data; how we unlock its hidden value. We are entering the Age of Digital Transformation where data is king. And the rewards for pioneers and early adopters will be rich indeed.

As a working definition, we can describe digital transformation as a profound transition to the routine exploitation of the full potential of digital information. It is where an enterprise or organisation is looking to use digital technology to change their processes to be more efficient, better informed and, crucially, better connected.

Digital transformation can reduce costs, increase organisational agility, improve decision making, open new revenue streams, create a competitive edge, and it can even save lives.

The good news is that most of the technology that’s required: big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, advanced sensors, autonomous systems, and so on, already exists. This time, it is not a lack of better, faster, cheaper technology which is preventing the next evolution.

This time, the problem is trust.

Vaults Vs Repositories

If you want to make a system as secure as possible, the easiest and most obvious way is to isolate it. Remove all connectivity. Use manual systems that can’t be hacked from afar. Lock the doors, bolt the windows and let nothing in or out. Congratulations: you have built yourself a data vault.

But if you want to exploit the value of data – if you want to share it with others and you want others to share theirs with you – what is required is not a data vault but a data repository. And if you’re going to share data, or access it remotely, or import or export it from system to system, you need impeccable, verifiable, 360 degree security.

What you need for digital transformation is provenance, proof and traceability. What you need is digital trust.

Are you a target?

The fact is, the more connected you are – the more you try to access and exploit the huge amounts of data which now lie within reach – the greater your exposure to cyber attacks. And it only takes one successful hack to significantly impact your reputation and brand.

Within the the last year or so, successful and highly publicised attacks have been launched against Adidas, Equifax, the National Health Service, FedEx, Maersk, Delta Airlines, Kmart and YouTube.

Those are just some of the big names. According to Online Trust Alliance, cyber incidents targeting businesses nearly doubled from 82,000 in 2016 to 159,700 in 2017, driven by ransomware and new attack methods. The real number may be far higher because, for reasons which will be obvious to a thoughtful observer, it is rather unlikely that every attack is openly reported.

So what can be done to gain the rich rewards promised by digital transformation, without taking extreme risks?

Five steps to successful digital transformation

It’s not enough to simply beef up your firewalls and update your anti-virus software. Gaps in security and targets of opportunity are likely to be left unseen, unnoticed and waiting to bring you down.

Here’s what you need to think about:

  • Engage a firm of security specialists which not only understands the risks and rewards of digital transformation, but has a proven track record in your sector. This is crucial. Unfortunately, the majority of firms that specialise in the prevention of cyber attacks will not be familiar with your particular vertical market.
    Work with your chosen supplier to identify the risks and opportunities presented by digital transformation, their specific importance to you and what can be done to mitigate or exploit them.
  • Security is a never-ending, always fluid process. Ideally, you should team up with a partner who can provide 24/7 year-round protection, with experienced cyber-security experts who have access to industry-specific threat intelligence and who can identify behaviours and incidents which are outside of the norm for your enterprise.
  • Consider the use of Identity Warrants to provide connectable devices with a unique and unalterable digital identity. This is particularly useful for:

        ♦  Performing remote software upgrades without compromising security

        ♦  Monitoring connected devices and collecting performance information
        ♦  Making sure that only genuine software is running on the users’ devices

        ♦  Preventing illegal connections

        ♦  Securely collaborating with third party service providers and partners

  • Ask your chosen security provider about using assured blockchain services to unlock the full benefits of blockchain to store and share immutable information.
  • Get advice about how to realise the full potential of Public Key Infrastructure services. Your aim is to give user groups, individuals and third parties the ability to easily exchange information without compromising security.

There is no doubt that we are going to see substantial differences in this new age. Driverless cars, airside airport digitisation, predictive and pre-emptive maintenance across many industries, better use of data in defence and the more effective use of assets, true supply chain efficiency and accountability, and more.

Organisations of all types - the people we all rely on to make the world go round - will benefit from digital transformation. In five years’ time, that world will be different. In ten years, it will be unrecognisable.

We have the technology. The demand is clear. All that you need to open a door to this bright new future is digital trust.

Written by Gareth Williams, VP Secure Communications and Information Systems