Industry Trends

Implementing Security with Digital Transformation Initiatives

By Susan Biddle | October 19, 2017

Fortinet’s Vice President of Strategic Programs, Jonathan Nguyen-Duy, recently hosted a webinar called “Implementing Security with Digital Transformation Initiatives.”  This talk touched on why digital transformation is so crucial across industries, as well as the technological capabilities organizations need to adopt in order to ensure a successful digital transformation.  

In addition to examining how and why organizations are going through digital transformation, this webinar also focused on its associated challenges. Specifically, attendees learned how the adoption of digital transformation technology is increasing network complexity, expanding the potential attack surface, and forcing IT teams to rethink their security strategies from the data center to the cloud, and from the edge to IoT.

Below are a few key takeaways:.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is a trend affecting organizations across all vertical markets. Its aim is to optimize business operations and enhance customer engagement through the adoption and use of digital technology. This digital transformation effort is what is driving consumer-focused innovations such as mobile banking and telehealth. This transition has become necessary for organizations to remain competitive, as consumers are increasingly demanding digital access to their data, highly responsive applications and services, and customized experiences.  Digital transformation can benefit organizations through:

  • New tech-enabled business models
  • Demand and supply-side changes
  • Better customer engagement
  • Acceleration of all business operations

To provide this functionality to customers and reap its business benefits, organizations are turning to the Internet of Things (IoT), the cloud, and web applications to collect critical, real-time information, optimize internal workflows, and accelerate data analysis. They then leverage the data collected by these technologies to generate deep insights into consumer demands and business processes in order to drive exponential business growth. This data-driven approach to business enriches the customer experience through personalized targeting and engagement

Digital Transformation Technology Requirements

To reap the full benefits of digital transformation, the technologies that businesses adopt have to offer four key capabilities:

  • Virtualization

This refers to the simplification of IT infrastructure by moving applications into virtual machines, whether local or through the public cloud, resulting in fewer physical servers – and their associated overhead – being needed for applications to operate efficiently.

  • Ubiquitous Broadband (5G)

In order for computing to be done on any device from anywhere using networked devices, high performance bandwidth is a necessity. 5G allows for increased mobile web traffic, thereby facilitating IoT deployments and communications. In addition, solutions need to be able to adapt as broadband speeds and services continue to accelerate.

  • Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is a network of connected devices that are commonly used in everyday interactions. They can range from consumer-based devices such as wearables and smart appliances, to commercial tools such as system monitors or inventory control tools. These devices are valuable as they allow organization to collect and analyze individualized data from a variety of sources in order to derive critical and competitive insights.

  • Big Data Analytics

Big data analytics is often enabled through cloud computing. In the context of digital transformation, big data analytics means looking at the data collected through IoT devices to find actionable insights, such as consumer and market trends, as well as uncovering operational trends that can be improved.

Incorporating technology with these capabilities can offer organizations huge benefits in terms of tailoring customer offerings, enhancing internal workflows, and gaining actionable insights into how to improve operations. However, the use of these technologies, combined with the exponentially increasing numbers of connected devices, adds a new degree of complexity to the network, creating new security challenges.

Digital Transformation Security Challenges

These new technology strategies are also serving to eliminate traditional network perimeters. As a result, determined and enterprising cybercriminals are launching more sophisticated and frequent attacks in order to exploit this new attack surface. The security challenge with the distributed nature of these networks is that while they offer vast new business opportunities, they also reduce data and network visibility. 

To maintain essential data security during this digital transformation, IT teams must now learn to harness the complexity that has traditionally been used against them and make it into a security advantage. This can be done through increasing automation, segmentation, and virtualization to improve visibility, threat detection, and response.

Implementing Security into the Digital Transformation Process

To secure digital transformation and the aforementioned four key technologies, organizations need to deploy a unified security framework that incorporates:

  • Auditing or pen testing
  • Application security readiness
  • Scalable security
  • Integrated intelligence
  • Automated segmentation

With an architectural approach to security, organizations can achieve the competitive benefits of digital transformation while ensuring comprehensive network protection. Integrated intelligence allows each security control to be automatically updated with the latest threat intelligence, be made aware of alerts from other tools, and participate in a coordinated response to detected threats.

As more devices connect to your network, especially at peak traffic times, your security has to be able to scale along with your virtual environment to ensure there are never any security gaps. Increased device use is also why application security readiness is essential, as vulnerable web applications that mediate between IoT devices and your network are increasingly being targeted because so many of them can easily be compromised.

To ensure a secure digital ecosystem, enhanced security controls need to be combined with an internal segmentation strategy that can dynamically divide IoT device traffic accessing the network into managed, tolerated, and rogue categories. Each of these categories should be segmented from your organizations managed and critical assets, along with necessary security controls guarding and managing the entryway between each segment, based on the level of trust for each individual or class of device.

Final Thoughts

To keep up in the rapidly evolving tech-enabled business world, implementing a digital transformation plan is absolutely necessary. However, the security challenges that come with such digital transformation cannot be ignored. IT teams must learn and implement the necessary security measures to ensure and maintain network visibility, threat detection, and prevention, across the distributed network, from IoT to the cloud.

To learn more about staying secure during a digital transformation, view the webinar in full.