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5 Tips for Transforming IT Amid Rising Cyber Threats

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As we close out National Cyber Security Awareness Month, it is important to underscore the role of strong leadership – from C-suite executives to IT professionals in the field – in the face of cyber security threats.

In order to effectively mitigate or prevent cyberattacks, leaders have to approach the procurement and management of IT infrastructure with long-term stability in mind. Here are five ways businesses can better protect themselves from cyber security threats while they pursue IT transformation.

1. Acknowledge the Potential Threat

According to recent reports, almost 2 billion data records around the world were lost or stolen by cyberattacks in the first half of 2017, and this wave of cybercrime does not show signs of slowing any time soon. Leaders have to educate themselves and their employees about these threats and accept the fact that they could be vulnerable, then invest accordingly, for the good of the company, its employees, and other stakeholders.

2. Understand Your IT Environment

Beyond annual cyber security training, the power of technology itself is the best hope for counteracting hackers. Gaining full visibility into your entire IT environment –from networks, to data centers, to end-user mobile devices or applications–will give leaders the best chance to stop a small flaw from becoming a big problem. Take the retail industry, for example. Things like payroll records, inventory data, self-checkout kiosks, barcode scanners, and security devices are built for different purposes and provided by different sources. Managing a large infrastructure seems daunting, but solutions like IBM’s Multivendor Support Services provides a single point of expertise that can help prevent problems before they occur and unite discrete technologies under one umbrella.

3. Encourage New Innovation

When we talk about IT transformation today, incremental stop-gap improvements are no longer adequate. The era of cloud and AI requires similar IT innovation to meet the demands of these kinds of breakthroughs. Cloud resiliency orchestration and augmented intelligence have shifted the way IT professionals approach disaster recovery and business continuity management (BCM) in the event of natural or man-made disasters. By automating much of the disaster recovery process with pre-determined objectives, companies can spot vulnerabilities before they fail to boost their cyber resiliency and stay ahead of cybercriminals.In fact, according to The Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study: Impact of Business Continuity Management, 95 percent of companies said adopting BCM and resiliency orchestration had a significant impact on mitigating the effects and costs of a data breach.

4. Empower Your Workforce to Become Cyber Resilient

Designing or adopting new innovations can bolster your IT portfolio, but cyber security also requires a total team effort, in which all employees feel empowered and know that they contribute to the company’s cyber resiliency efforts regardless of job title. Cyber resiliency unites the areas of information security, business continuity, and organizational resilience. This requires everyone to think differently about how they can prepare for cyber threats.Just as CEOs know how to get deals done in the boardroom, IT technicians know the solutions they need to secure their environments. The best leaders will listen to those requests and work together with their employees to provide the necessary resources to repair issues or prevent data breaches from ever happening in the first place.

5. Maintain the Highest Standards

The backbone of any organization is its IT infrastructure. While it seems like the frequency of data breaches might overwhelm our ability to stop them, we have seen that solutions like the ones mentioned above are already proving to be successful safeguards.

Even if an organization has avoided a cyberattack for a long time, however, leaders cannot grow complacent. Employees and investors have dedicated time, energy, and financial support with the belief that they will be rewarded for those efforts. The best way for leaders to repay that is to do everything in their power to protect their organizations from harm.

General Manager, Solutions, Delivery and Transformation, IBM Global Technology Services

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