Digital transformation promises improved business efficiency through various methods. It includes automating routine tasks, providing deeper data insights to inform strategic decisions, and enhancing customer experience through personalized interactions and streamlined service delivery.

However, as organizations become more interconnected and reliant on digital infrastructure, they expose themselves to cybersecurity risks like data breaches, phishing attacks, and vulnerabilities in IoT devices. Navigating these risks is crucial for any company seeking to realize the benefits of digital transformation.

Common cybersecurity risks in digital transformation

As brands embark on their digital transformation journey, they face an evolving landscape of cybersecurity challenges. Identifying and understanding the most common risks is crucial for protecting valuable data and ensuring seamless digital operations.

Increased attack surface

The proliferation of devices and platforms in the digital transformation era broadens the attack surface. It provides hackers with more potential entry points into corporate networks. As they adopt new technologies like IoT devices, cloud-based systems, and mobile applications, they often struggle to secure each connection adequately. This practice leaves vulnerabilities cybercriminals can leverage.

Expert analysts cited this rapid expansion of connected technologies as the top security and risk management trend in 2022. It warns that enterprises are at heightened risk of data breaches and other cyber threats without comprehensive security strategies. Addressing these risks requires a holistic approach that includes monitoring, regular system audits, and up-to-date security protocols.

IoT vulnerabilities

Cybercriminals often target IoT devices due to insufficient security measures, such as weak default passwords, outdated firmware, and unencrypted data transmissions. These devices — from smart sensors in industrial settings to wearable technology and connected home appliances — are pivotal in digital transformation efforts. They reduce costs and raise productivity by automating vital processes and maintaining information in a central location.

This reliance on IoT introduces vulnerabilities hackers can exploit, especially when technologies lack proper security protocols. Attackers can infiltrate networks through these unsecured items to access sensitive information or disrupt essential operations. It emphasizes the need for comprehensive IoT security measures like firmware updates and secure authentication practices.

Insider threats

Unauthorized access or unintentional errors can compromise sensitive data and lead to devastating breaches that affect an organization’s security posture. When employees misuse their access privileges deliberately or unknowingly, they can expose confidential information or disrupt critical systems, posing a significant risk to data integrity.

Unintentional errors can also open the door for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities, such as mistakenly sending emails to the wrong recipients or misconfiguring security settings. In fact, 30 percent of chief information security officers identified insider threats as one of their enterprises’ most significant cybersecurity risks. It underscores the importance of strict access controls, comprehensive employee training, and regular audits to minimize these internal vulnerabilities.

Tips for businesses to protect themselves

Recognizing the diverse cybersecurity risks associated with digital transformation is the first step in safeguarding a brand. Here are proactive strategies to help organizations defend themselves and their sensitive data against evolving threats.

Implement strong access controls

Limiting access based on user roles is crucial for minimizing insider threats. It ensures workers can only access the data and systems necessary for their responsibilities. This strategy helps reduce the likelihood of unauthorized access and unintentional errors, as staff won’t have visibility into sensitive information irrelevant to their roles.

With 55 percent of organizations identifying negligent employees as the primary cause of insider threats, establishing strict role-based permissions is essential to prevent data leaks and accidental exposure. Implementing this measure alongside thorough training programs can strengthen their internal security posture and reduce the risk of compromised sensitive data.

Develop a comprehensive incident response plan

Ensuring teams are ready to respond swiftly to breaches minimizes the potential damage from cybersecurity incidents. When employees understand their roles and responsibilities during an attack, they can immediately execute the incident response plan to contain the breach and prevent further data loss.

Timely actions — like isolating affected systems, alerting stakeholders, and securing backup data — limit the impact and recover operations. Regularly updating and rehearsing this plan ensures all team members remain proficient in emergency protocols, helping businesses handle breaches with agility and precision.

Use network segmentation

Isolating critical data from less secure networks is a fundamental security practice that prevents unauthorized access to sensitive information. By segmenting networks, companies can contain potential breaches and limit the lateral movement of attackers. It protects high-value data and reduces the chances of a widespread attack.

In fact, 93 percent of respondents in a survey considered network segmentation critical to thwarting ransomware attacks. They recognize its ability to contain malicious activity before it escalates. By establishing firm network boundaries, businesses can minimize the risk of data compromise and enhance their overall cybersecurity posture.

Secure IoT devices

Changing default passwords and updating firmware on all connected devices strengthens a brand’s cybersecurity defenses. Default passwords are often well-known and attackers can exploit them for unauthorized access to sensitive data and systems.

Regularly updating firmware ensures devices have the latest security patches to address weak points hackers might otherwise use. Implementing these straightforward yet effective practices reduces the risk of unauthorized access, better securing connected devices against evolving cyber threats.

Adopting a proactive and ongoing cybersecurity strategy

Encouraging enterprises to adopt a proactive cybersecurity strategy is essential to avoiding emerging threats and ensuring data protection. Cybersecurity requires continuous vigilance and regular updates to policies and systems. It’s a dynamic process that evolves with new challenges, not a one-time solution.

Zac Amos is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he covers business tech, HR, and cybersecurity. He is also a regular contributor at AllBusiness, TalentCulture, and VentureBeat. For more of his work, follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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