Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

How to create a secure intelligent platform for a digital business

November 28, 2017

Some say the glass is half empty.  Some say the glass is half full.

I say….are you going to drink that?

Bold choices can often be what sets a business apart.  Saying yes to things, even if it’s never been done before.

In fact one entrepreneur, known for his intergalactic ambitions, is famous for his “Screw it, let’s do it,” mantra (among other things…).

When it comes to bringing a product to market, I guess it could be argued that new entrepreneurs have it ever so slightly easier than those who started their businesses even five years ago – thanks to modern technology.

No matter what the industry – manufacturing, finance, agriculture – digitisation and all that great stuff, helps businesses to grow at scale. But where does cybersecurity fit into all of that? How can you introduce all of these wonderful new technologies, from AI to cloud computing to IoT, and still be secure?

We carried out a survey of security professionals recently, 28 percent of whom told us that their companies are pursuing “digitisation” with urgency.

However, when probed a little deeper, those companies also told us that they are being so urgent about it because they know they can actually improve their cybersecurity by being more digital.

Praise the 28%.

Contrary to the popular stereotype of cybersecurity professionals (“Turn the internet off! It’s pen and paper for you sunshine!”), those taking a more digitised approach actually have the potential to be more secure.

How so? A lot of companies are now re-engineering their digital processes so that cybersecurity is the foundation.

Here’s how they do it:

Step 1: Identify insecure technologies and the business processes they enable.

Step 2: Replace them with new technologies and processes that integrate cybersecurity from the very outset.

Step 3: Institute cybersecurity expertise at all levels of the company.  It’s all about taking proactive measures that helps the business excel in cybersecurity, and also boost product development, risk resilience, threat analysis, and response.

Here’s some tips on how to make cybersecurity more of a boardroom topic.

So, now’s the time to choose projects with a high opportunity-to-risk ratio, not just a low-risk profile.

And yet, here’s the kicker:

Nearly three quarters of our survey respondents indicated that their organisations are reluctant to innovate in areas such as digital products and services, because of the perceived cybersecurity risks.

So, there’s still that ‘fear’ amongst most businesses about venturing down a path that will introduce much more network traffic and more myriad devices.  That fear often comes down to a lack of confidence in their processes – if a breach were to happen, how would we cope?  Can we find it and quarantine it quickly enough?

For tips on how to handle a security breach, we’re running a webinar on Thursday 30th November at 3pm.  It’s free, and you can sign up here:

You’ve been breached, now what? Breach readiness and response webinar 

In the meantime, what’s the solution to innovating securely?

1) Increased visibility

In order to get to more effective security, we need visibility everywhere.  From the network to the endpoint to the cloud – and everything in between.  At Cisco, we know what mobile devices are connecting.  And we see the computers, operating systems and users connecting locally.

We stop more threats with usable threat intelligence across files, DNS, web, email and network traffic.  We connect the dots of the data and telemetry we see, and convert that to insights.  The things we see that may appear benign are suddenly revealed for what they are – threats that need to be stopped.  And you don’t have to just take our word for it.  We’ve been identified as the leader for three years in a row in the NSS Breach Detection Systems (BDS) test. 

It all starts with our intelligence gathering through our superb Talos team.  Cisco Talos examines more data sets from diverse sources than anyone…sources like threats and malware, web traffic, email, DNS, network intrusions and endpoint intelligence – even insights about attacker infrastructure.

Talos coordinates threat protections so all products are seamlessly in sync to block threats.  Once a threat is detected, Talos immediately coordinates protections across products, from web and email security to endpoint and network security, for a fast, synchronised response across our entire portfolio, with no effort needed by the end user.

2) An integrated threat defence

The goal for businesses has to be to see a threat once, and block it everywhere – across your entire network. Supported by this capability, organisations can advance their business more quickly and capture opportunities ahead with the confidence that they are secure.

To do this, you need security products that intentionally play nicely with others in the security stack.
This openness fosters “best of breed” solutions in the truest sense of the word—solutions that interoperate. Cisco’s security products are open, which means that when you use them, they will solve incrementally more of your security problems.

Cisco builds products designed to interoperate at every level of the security stack, not only across our portfolio but also with products provided by others. Open offerings set the stage for an ecosystem that can accelerate innovation.

3) Getting the strategy right: Not just ‘reacting’

If businesses keep moving forwards without building security into the core strategy, the likelihood is that that fear of moving forwards and growing will become never ending.

With a ‘making do’ approach, you just have to hope that you are heading in the right direction. And hope, as we all know, is not a strategy.

If we don’t build our businesses with security in mind, the so called ‘digital revolution’ will be plagued with issues.  All those great ideas may begin to work against you.  Which is not only inconvenient; it’s a travesty.

It’s our goal to empower businesses to understand how to anticipate and respond to new threats, reduce complexity and fragmentation, and adapt with agility to changing business models.

Backed by our team of talent from former CISOs to consultants to forensic experts and architects, Cisco customers can better manage risk and compliance, control cost, and achieve strategic objectives.

To learn more about how to innovate securely, take a look at our ebook: “Cybersecurity done right” which includes a section from one of our Talos experts Martin Lee on how to keep tabs on rogue IoT devices.

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  1. Excellent blog post Hazel.