Why Corporate Boards Must Pay Attention To Digital Risk
Most corporations understand that digital risk management is crucial to long-term business success. As Gartner’s recent 2020 Board of Directors survey found, over two-thirds of corporations understand that digital risk is the top business challenge for this year and the next. Additionally, nearly half of all company directors know that they need to lower legal, compliance, and reputational risks associated with digital investments. Even so, those who aren’t tech-savvy may find it challenging to know what measures to take to lower digital risk long-term. Even those who are familiar with IT may struggle to address a vast field, as is evidenced by the fact that IT vendors are struggling to provide comprehensive solutions to digital risk challenges.
Thankfully, there are concrete steps companies can take to successfully address digital risks and lower them. Ferrell Fuller, with ChaceTech, a Houston IT company shares strategies to discover solutions your business can implement to secure your digital assets now and in the future.
What is Digital Risk?
Digital risk should not be confused with cyber risk. As the name implies, cyber risk is the risk of being attacked by cybercriminals via a malware attack or data breach. Savvy corporations already know they need to take cybersecurity measures such as password protection, two-factor authentication, email and web filtering, and installing updated anti-virus programs on all company computers.
Digital risk, on the other hand, is a long-term consideration that could make or break your business. Simply put, it’s the risk that comes with using any technology that can connect to the internet. This includes not only computers and cell phones but any appliance in your office that can access (or be accessed by) the internet. Only a year ago, it was estimated that by 2020 up to 37% of air conditioning units, 28% of refrigerators, 27% of washing machines, 4% of dishwashers, and 2% of clothes dryers and cooking appliances would be able to access the internet. While not IoT devices are found in commercial offices, the fact that a growing number of employees are working from home means that these devices could pose a risk to your business.
Another aspect of digital risk includes realizing that internet platforms such as websites and social media networks can be misused by hackers to attack your business. Spoof websites and social media accounts imitate your brand name while extorting money from your client base. New customers may not know the difference between your sites and the fake ones, causing a widespread lack of trust that could ruin your business long-term. Even existing customers that trust your brand name may not be willing to do business with you if they have to watch their every move online or else risk being tricked by cybercriminals.
How to Assess Digital Risk
To assess digital risk, you need to carefully consider which assets need to be protected from bad actors. These include:
- People you work with or who work for you. This includes employees, contractors, customers, potential customers, suppliers, and business partners. Their private data is valuable on the dark web. Alternatively, it can be used to breach other companies or individuals in the future.
- Systems that keep your enterprise running, including website domains, social media accounts, payment processing systems, databases, cloud storage, SaaS platforms, and email hosting sites.
- IT infrastructure such as desktop computers, laptops, business telephone services, fax machines, printers, photocopy machines, etc.
Once you know what assets need to be protected, it’s time to assess who would want to gain unauthorized access to these assets. Run-of-the-mill hackers are usually interested in any business that can be easily hacked but there are specific threats that some industries need to guard against. For instance, the FBI has recently warned the auto industry that rogue nation-states could be trying to steal intellectual property on enterprise networks while terrorists could use vulnerabilities in smart cars to disrupt the U.S. transportation system. The United States has accused Russia and China of attempting to breach companies doing COVID-19 vaccine research.
How to Successfully Address Digital Risk
As IT technology moves ahead at breakneck speed, it’s imperative to realize that successful digital risk management isn’t going to be a one-time job. You’ll need to have experts continually monitor your network and online presence to ensure that risks are immediately dealt with and problems are quickly eliminated.
Here are some measures to take to successfully minimize digital risk:
- Partner with an IT managed service provider that understands your industry. You’ll need a team of experts to keep your systems free from risk long-term. Even companies with a top-tier in-house IT department can benefit from outsourcing IT jobs to a service provider that offers co-managed services.
- Conduct regular penetration testing to ensure that a combination of vulnerabilities can’t be used to gain access to your digital assets. Penetration testing is essentially hiring “ethical hackers” to try their best to breach your digital asset security measures. These ethical hackers will not only point out vulnerabilities but also help you understand what caused them and how to prevent them in the future.
- Monitor the dark web. Recent statistics indicate that, on average, it takes a company 197 days to detect a data breach. Hackers who gain access to your digital assets will stay connected to them for as long as possible in order to turn the highest possible profit on their crime. Monitoring the dark web will help you see if your data (or a subcontractor’s or supplier’s data) has been posted for sale, which will immediately alert you to the fact that there has been a breach. Furthermore, dark web monitoring can help you prevent breaches in advance as IT experts gain access to cybercriminal conversations and are able to assess if your industry or business is about to be targeted by malicious third parties.
Taking action to minimize digital risk won’t be easy but it will be worth it. Protecting yourself and your contractors, suppliers, and customers will build trust. People will know they can do business with you without putting their information at risk and you’ll have the freedom to focus on core business goals rather than dealing with the aftermath of ongoing attacks on your firm.