Business & Technology

Security Transformation: The Key to Successful Digital Transformation

By Patrick Grillo | October 31, 2018

As the drive towards digital transformation gathers momentum, this is an appropriate time for organizations to pause and reflect for a moment on their security strategies. It’s beyond doubt that the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business can result in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers. Technologies typically associated with digital transformation (DX) include SD-WAN, IoT, and Cloud, and the changes they’re driving are quite revolutionary. However, without an accompanying Security Transformation (SX) strategy, any DX effort can fall apart.

Recent research by digital consultancy and software development company SoftServe found that security is the largest factor standing in the way of enterprise digital transformation efforts, with more than half of the companies surveyed saying that security was the number one challenge they face when implementing digital enablement technologies. Compounding this, Osterman Research recently found that 57% of businesses surveyed reported major issues finding and recruiting talented IT security staff. This presents an additional complication as DX efforts move more data and systems to the cloud, and cyberattacks grow more sophisticated.

So, what is Security Transformation (SX) and why should you care about it? SX is the integration of security into all areas of digital technology, resulting in fundamental changes to how security is architected, deployed, and operated. At the same time, SX is more than just technology – it’s also about changing how teams work. With the wide range of different technologies being adopted under the banner of DX, the different teams associated with key projects – applications, networking, and security – all need to work together to achieve a common goal: a successful and secure Digital Transformation.

To understand why SX is so vital, consider the ever-changing security threat landscape and its potential impacts on DX technologies like Cloud. In a multi-cloud environment, for example, there are many security issues to consider, including how to manage access to cloud services from remote users and branch offices, multiple cloud vendors using different cloud platforms, managing the new and constantly evolving applications and workflows that span different environments, and establishing and enforcing consistent security policies across various cloud platforms that each have their own native controls and interfaces. This complexity makes it impossible to monitor what’s happening across all the clouds, properly manage risk, address regulatory compliance, and maintain consistent security policies across both on-premise and cloud environments.

Likewise, connecting next-gen branch offices to today’s more dynamic and fluid networks requires adopting a more dynamic and fluid approach to building wide area networks.SD-WAN enables branch offices to easily connect to all resources, whether on-premise in a central data center or in any of an organization’s multi-cloud environments. The challenge however is that most SD-WAN solutions do not have the necessary security capabilities to adequately protect the branch office.

It's also important to understand that the range of different digital technologies associated with DX bring with them a range of security risks that IT teams can’t afford to view in isolation. The fact that cloud environments tend to use unique controls and services that make integrated visibility extremely difficult only makes the problem worse. To address these and similar challenges, organizations need to, where possible, step back before deployment and assess the situation with all of its associated risks in order to develop a comprehensive security strategy. This collaboration between disparate teams to achieve a common goal is the essence of SX and is a cyber-security best practice approach. Without this initial planning and the full recognition and acknowledgement of the risks that a DX strategy can entail, DX objectives cannot be fully realized – and in the worst case, the DX initiative could even fail.

Organizations planning their approaches to DX and SX, or who are now looking for ways to simplify their security strategy in their new DX environment, might find a new Fortinet whitepaper useful reading. Titled SD-WAN in the Age of Digital Transformation, the whitepaper examines the rise of SD-WAN, which is an increasingly critical component of DX strategies, with the increasing number of organizations pushing more services to the cloud. This strategy is clogging traditional network architectures, and this paper not only explores the security challenges associated with SD-WAN, but also sets out SX strategies that can help organizations ensure that their digital WAN deployments are secure.

If you would like to learn more about Fortinet’s recommendations on how to achieve a successful Security Transformation, alongside Digital Transformation, I’ll be speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2018 in Barcelona on Tuesday, 6 November at 1755. I look forward to seeing you there to discuss this important topic.

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