Adaptability and awareness are key to preventing cyber-attacks in 2018
Cybersecurity was a massive concern for most organisations in 2017 and looks to continue to be a headache for CIOs in 2018. Symantec recently released their cybersecurity predictions for 2018, listing the many concerns that CIOs and InfoSec specialists may have in store for them this year. The outlook is bleak, and there is not sufficient knowledge of the threat landscape to prevent attacks. Organisations need to act to avoid potential threats as well as be prepared in the event of a breach.
It is vital that organisations understand their own current security maturity, taking into account the existing cyber threat landscape and the industry in which they operate. This cannot be a generic check. Different parameters exist for various industries and every industry has a different threat or risk profile. A financial services provider for example, which deals with sensitive information, on a daily basis, will have different security requirements to say, a glass manufacturer.
Despite different threat profiles, every industry also has exposure to the same types of threats that are out there. As the Symantec report evidences, there are several distinctive threats to be cognisant of. Ransomware was the most talked about threat last year, however lesser publicised threats such as data theft, identity theft and financial trojans are also leaving considerable damages in their wakes.
A cyber-attack can do a lot of damage. Beyond the financial impact of lost data, compromised identities or having to pay a ransom to recover data- there is also reputation damage to consider. People are more reluctant to do business with an organisation known to have suffered data losses.
Cybersecurity maturity evaluation
The first port of call for any organisation should be to evaluate and understand where their weak points are, not just currently but in line with their business strategy too. Current security controls need to be reviewed frequently in line with the business trajectory, while also incorporating any possible digital transformation strategies. Current and potential gaps should be identified and prioritised, and a security roadmap should be implemented for remediation- incorporating whatever changes are required, budget permitting.
Any planned digitalisation needs to be measured against current security controls to evaluate their suitability and sustainability. New technologies, applications and programs open up new vulnerabilities, and therefore existing security controls may not be sufficient.
One key factor to consider when planning a security strategy or roadmap is the shortage of proper cybersecurity skills- particularly in South Africa. An organisation planning on executing a complex digital strategy with equally complex cybersecurity demands, should consider outsourcing its security to a reputable and knowledgeable partner. This will ensure that security remains current and equipped to handle the myriad of threats out there.
Awareness, awareness, awareness
So important, it needs to be repeated frequently. Many security breaches occur simply because employees are not aware of how to work securely and responsibly. While assessing the security threat landscape and an organisation’s security maturity, they should also continually assess their internal awareness of both.
Frequent training and awareness programs can go a long way to reducing the risk of attack. Mindful employees are empowered with the knowledge of how to identify risk areas, handle any security incident and the appropriate reporting channels in the event of a breach.
A simple way to assess an organisation’s security maturity, identify weak points and evaluate internal awareness levels - is to conduct cybersecurity simulation exercises. Similar to a fire drill, by simulating a cyber-attack, such as ransomware and implementing the relevant procedures in response, a business can clearly spot the gaps and remedy its reaction plan.
A simulation addresses the entire response process- including the technology, skills and capabilities within the organisation to ascertain whether or not they are geared to handle the real deal. It also looks at the suitability of a business’ crisis communication plan and whether or not the breach is properly communicated to stakeholders and correctly managed from a remediation point of view.
Simulations can teach the employees within a business a lot about whether or not they are properly prepared to tackle a security threat, and what can be reasonably changed to ensure success.
There is no doubt that 2018 will be riddled with cyber threats, as cybercriminals seek to profit from the likes of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) and more. An organisation which stays on top of the current security threat landscape and constantly adapts its security strategy accordingly, is more likely to see out the year successfully, with little to no impact.
Paul Jolliffe is the Lead DSM of Security at T-Systems South Africa
Grupo Espinosa: 70 years of constant evolution
Founded in 1952, Grupo Espinosa has been relentlessly supporting the publishing industry with producing more than 100 million copies every year – whether its books, magazines, catalogues or single-order custom prints. No project is big or small for Grupo Espinosa, as the facility can scale up on demand and their turnaround times are highly competitive. Grupo Espinosa works with on-demand digital press or offset press, in paperback with glued softcover binding, PUR softcover binding, stitched paperback binding, binder’s board, hardcover, saddle stitched, Spiral or Wire-O. Equipped with the experience needed for a product to leave the plant ready for distribution, Grupo Espinosa delivers anywhere inside or outside Mexico. Traditionally starting off as a black and white printing press, Grupo Espinosa has experienced transformation first hand – from colour to digital offset printing. Currently, Grupo Espinosa is also looking at making capital investments into audio books to match with the increasing demand.
So how did a seemingly local operation in Latin America become a world-renowned printing facility trusted by hundreds of clients? As Rogelio Tirado, CFO of Grupo Espinosa for the last six years says “It all comes down to our market experience and our dedication to quality”. With nearly 70 years behind them, and located in Mexico City, Grupo Espinosa has two major locations – one spanning 75,000 square metres and the other about 45,000 square metres. Both locations are controlled by a single ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system ensuring speed, consistency and quality of work. Tirado says this isn’t their only competitive advantage. He adds “Our competitive advantage is the relationship we have with customers and the trust they put in us with their intellectual property”. Speaking of trust, global publishing giant Macmillan Education exclusively partners with Grupo Espinosa for their Latin America operations, as part of Macmillan’s decentralized hub strategy. Having a facility that offered the full spectrum of service – from storing digital content to printing and distributing – was one of the major requirements for Macmillan, and Grupo Espinosa was recognized as the leading printing hub for providing this 360 infrastructure. Another factor that has led to success for Grupo Espinosa is the absolute focus on quality and time. The staff are committed to providing the best quality in the best possible time, without causing wastage of resources. Sustainability is a huge factor playing into Grupo Espinosa’s operations, and they’ve created a healthy environment with the sustainable use of paper and energy resources as well as keeping their employees – most of them associated with the organisation for over 10 years – happy. He adds, “In order to be truly successful, you need to be good to the environment, employees, suppliers, and your customers. But most importantly, you need to be sustainable, you need to have proper working conditions, pay proper salaries, proper prices for paper, source the paper from sustainable sources, pay your taxes, basically be a good global corporate citizen and that's probably one of the biggest achievements that we have.”