Investing in IT and cybersecurity infrastructure can seem unnecessary, expensive, and the last priority for business leaders. Often, businesses are focused on cash flow, profits, and, if they’re a public company, keeping shareholders happy.
However, information technology and cybersecurity have evolved to become a vital part of businesses today. Ignoring investing in these areas puts your company at risk, reduces profits, and can drive away customers.
This article will look at how business leaders should approach improving IT and cybersecurity infrastructure at their firms. We will also discuss ways you can encourage people to get behind adopting better technology at your company.
The Information Age
Computers and technology have continuously changed the way we work.
However, web 2.0 and now web 3.0 are transforming how businesses operate even further.
Technological improvements allow businesses to streamline their work through digital means and reach customers in totally new ways:
- Social media lets advertisers do digital storytelling through influencer personalities
- Smartphones allow you to participate in Zoom meetings anywhere you like
Information technology has revolutionized how we view business as a set of processes too. It is one of the most sophisticated ways to enable business process management (BPM).
In its earliest forms, information technology was used to crunch raw data. Today, cloud computing and web services combined with machine learning are quickly becoming one of the best ways to discover trends and stay ahead of the curve.
This highlights the path where we’re heading with the technological advancements: a much more vulnerable world and business landscape.
Increase in mobile usage and cloud computing
The way we do business has unexpectedly and rapidly changed during the last 2 years due to 2 main factors: the Covid-19 pandemic and the increase in remote working.
The world was reshaped and businesses were forced to keep up. And although to some extent, work processes have been simplified, we also opened the doors for attacks through networks, websites, and emails.
Companies now follow a mobile and agile approach. We witnessed migration to cloud-based services, products, and optimizations. However, this IT growth also came with a price making companies more exposed to cyberattacks.
It is important to understand that IT isn’t just about ensuring business inputs become outputs. A solid IT infrastructure is also essential to ensuring your business has the highest level of cybersecurity.
Picking the right software is crucial as more and more threats become apparent. All of this goes to say, the landscape of the 21st century requires business leaders to understand IT and the important role it plays in protecting their business.
How the IT department supports a business
One of the most significant changes in business has been the breakdown of business silos and the shift to treating businesses as a process whereby inputs (raw materials) become outputs (products).
Business silos occur when teams have different priorities and don’t focus on the overall goals of the business (creating products).
Information technology helps break down business silos by connecting teams and reorienting their goals towards broader business goals.
Today, this process often begins from the top-down, and more and more businesses have a CITO (Chief Information Technology Officer). CITOs are important as they help align IT teams with the company’s broader goals. Thus, IT becomes the support network for all other aspects of the business.
For example, nearly everyone has a website and an email today. Ensuring your company’s email works smoothly is one small way IT supports your business.
IT isn’t just related to email subjects, though. IT works to make sure all of these pieces operate smoothly together, so your customers receive the products they need.
Investing in IT also means investing in Cybersecurity
Part of investing in IT means that you have to also consider cybersecurity.
A recent survey of 4,744 respondents investigated how cybersecurity impacts businesses. Making sure your business objectives and cybersecurity objectives are aligned can keep your business at the cutting edge, while also mitigating some of the threats you might face.
Some of the reasons why cybersecurity investments are so important include:
- Increasement of cyberattacks
- Vulnerability of cloud technology
- Rise of threats and defenses with AI
1. Cyberattacks are increasing
In 2021, compared to 2020, cyber-attacks have increased by 31% against businesses. Particularly problematic are third-party attacks, where an organization is breached via a business’s supply chain.
Cyber-attacks have huge consequences across a business; from increasing legal troubles, economic impacts, and internal conflicts. Failing to address cyber security means that managers are opening up shareholders and other interest holders to all sorts of problems.
2. The Cloud and other new technologies offer compelling business incentives, but also Cybersecurity Risks
Out of necessity, many businesses adopted remote work models during the Covid-19 pandemic. In other cases, like with cloud computing, businesses have adapted to new technology because of the benefits it brings.
Cloud technology, particularly, is anticipated to become more important with more than two-thirds of workloads to shift to the cloud over the next three to five years. However, a recent survey demonstrated that nearly 1/3 of respondents said that security is not part of the discussion from the outset.
The result? Businesses are left trying to catch up to security after new technologies are implemented.
3. AI powers threats and defenses
One of the biggest potential threats is that AI and machine learning, which are frequently used to resolve business problems, can actually become one of your greatest threats.
AI-powered hackers can use machine learning algorithms to more quickly develop attack strategies as they test your business for potential areas to breach.
This means that businesses are no longer just facing human hackers acting alone, but sophisticated attack systems that work in concert to breach your security.
So, the best way to combat these types of attacks is to leverage AI and machine learning yourself to build a better defense net.
How Cyberattacks influenced Businesses in 2021 and 2022
IT isn’t just for support. Your IT teams may also have their own dedicated roles, which are sometimes specifically related to cybersecurity. Bank robberies may seem like a thing of the past, but these same threats also take place in the digital world.
The latest hacks to appear in the news underline how all businesses are at risk. One of the largest digital identity platforms, Okta, notified the public about a data breach that had occurred in January. Lapsus$, a hacking group comprised of teenagers, claimed responsibility. The Okta hack comes after many high-profile technology companies have had their data stolen, including Nvidia, Samsung, Microsoft, and Vodafone.
The complete fallout of the Okta hack remains to be seen, but it underscores the importance of cybersecurity and how everyone is vulnerable, even the most sophisticated technology companies.
When you ignore investing in IT and cybersecurity, you put your business at risk.
Okta shares dropped 2.5% immediately last Thursday after more news about the hack emerged. Cybersecurity can have real-world consequences for business profits and consumer trust.
So… How should you invest in cybersecurity?
Building a method to invest in cybersecurity can seem daunting at first.
Let’s take a look at some of the approaches your business can take for investing in cybersecurity, and the impact these investments will have.
- Training for employees
- Learn to recognize threats
- Security investment goes along with Sales
- Invest in a Third-Party Service
1. Training for Employees
The most significant change can happen from within your company. Many firms offer cybersecurity training programs, so you don’t have to spend time and resources developing your own.
Training is especially important if your firm works with sensitive information, like health care information, or criminal justice information.
By training your employees on how cybersecurity impacts them, your business, and your stakeholders, you can help better protect everyone’s interests.
2. Learn to Recognize Threats
Threat recognition comes directly from training.
Spotting spam and phishing threats is an excellent start for investing in cybersecurity. However, threat management goes beyond just spam and phishing.
It can also be about spotting things like social engineering, or it can be as simple as teaching your employees about shoulder-surfing.
3. Security Investment goes along with Sales
Security investments drive stakeholder value and they can help increase sales.
One way this is especially true is when it comes to protecting customers’ data. Customer trust is severely damaged any time a cyber incident occurs.
These types of incidents can cause customers to abandon your service or product. Today, customer data is one of the most critical assets companies have and it is the most frequent target of hackers.
Protecting this data protects your customers and helps ensure they stay with your service.
4. Invest in a Third-Party Service
Many businesses are not equipped with a full IT team and cybersecurity task force. Investing in third-party software might just be the answer as a powerful supplement to your existing security measures.
It will give your team an additional tool to analyze threats and locate network abnormalities.
Putting a strategy in place will help you identify the needs of your business as well and align them with your IT needs. You can decide whether to have in-house IT support or outsource the work and implement a plan that works for both your business and IT goals.
During implementation, it’s crucial to educate all teams involved at all levels to ensure smooth adoption. For larger firms, a strong CITO can ensure that implementation is properly carried out.
Finally, committing to the change you propose is the most important aspect of IT and cybersecurity investments.
IT infrastructure investments actually support companies, contrary to what many business leaders believe. Just like accounting, IT is an essential component of an organization. It’s a crucial part of creating a solid cybersecurity foundation.
As recent trends have shown, cybersecurity is the single most important aspect of ensuring your organization’s profitability and protecting its reputation.
Remember to select the right software, determine whether or not you need an in-house or outsourced solution, and always stay vigilant in cyberspace.