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3 Imperatives In Creating Battle Plans To Combat Cyber Attacks

November 2016

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Cybersecurity, hacking, network breaches, data security and your smart device all have one thing in common: they cost your company business today and will undoubtedly cost you more tomorrow. The recent data breaches at Sony, Yahoo, Target and the GSA caused consumers and businesses alike considerable harm — but this is only the tip of the iceberg.

What we don’t hear much about is the intense battle going on behind the scenes between network infrastructure providers and software companies competing for consumer wallet share on the one hand, and the introduction of leading-edge security measures by manufacturers to protect smartphones from hackers on the other. Beyond this battleground, there are other challenges presented by countries that refuse to allow sales or imports of handheld devices containing Trusted Platform Module microchips, currently banned by the Chinese government. Similarly, the Russian government is exploring measures that would require all network providers to allow unfettered government access to handheld devices that are active on Russian Federation territory.

The challenges that large multinational companies face in trying to protect consumer data on a global scale are extremely complex, but also increasingly critical as more and more consumers enter personal data into their iPhones, Galaxies and Pixels. Consumers are increasingly reliant on these devices for banking, health records, smart homes and other connected needs. Fortunately, Silicon Valley and the Israeli technology communities know this, and are pouring money into startups and early-stage companies focused on cyber solutions for smart consumer devices.

Unfortunately, most multinational companies are still not equipped to deal with cybersecurity threats.

In a recent survey of executives responsible for IT, resilience and business operations at major global companies conducted by British Telecom and KPMG, findings revealed that 97 percent of companies incurred a digital attack over the past two years, and only 22 percent are fully prepared to deal with future incidents. In addition, 71 percent of those surveyed have procedures in place to review tools and strategies used by cyber criminals. However, only 30 percent of the same respondents truly understand and/or deploy the tools that they have in-house.

The implications for the C-Suite are both critical and straightforward: protect customer data and your company’s intellectual property at all costs by leveraging the best talent, technology and practices available.

Hire And Continually Train Leading-Edge Talent

The cyber battle is no longer a game quarterbacked by ex-U.S. Secret Service or senior law enforcement professionals, who are more typically playing defense versus offense. The new playing field is led by advanced software developers and sophisticated consultants who may have played for the other side earlier in their career. These individuals have led geographically dispersed teams in very fluid operating environments, and have the unique ability to know what the other team’s coaching staff (management team) may be thinking – and planning.

The troubling statistics from the British Telecom/KPMG survey indicate that there is still a lack of focus and understanding among many chief information officers (CIOs) about how to deal with cyber attacks and their consequences. As part of a corporate battle plan, it’s important for the CEO and Board to hire CIOs that are in tune with today’s digital needs — but there’s also a commitment required to ensure CIOs and their teams spend a smart portion of their time learning about new advances in technology and software to stay ahead of the battle. Given the difficult hiring market for I.T. professionals, providing the training and ongoing education they need to keep a strong offensive posture in place is imperative.

Demand Collaboration Between CIOs And CHROs 

Organizations of all stripes are looking to secure cybersecurity talent. But, according to a survey of IT decision-makers conducted by Intel Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 82 percent of respondents reported a distinct absence of cybersecurity skills within their organizations. Along with being left vulnerable to attacks, this lack of talent has led to one in four respondents claiming reputational damage and the loss of proprietary data.

Chief human resource officers (CHROs) and CIOs must work together to curb this problem and enhance their organization’s security. CHROs must continually mine the market for leading-edge IT and cybersecurity talent that understands the technological challenges required to win the war, but they need to work with CIOs to hone in on practices that will attract, challenge and retain valuable talent. And, there is a need for these executives to have the right skills to work with a millennial workforce that is generally less loyal and often harder to retain.

Ensure Cultural Fit And Leadership

Multinational companies need to constantly monitor the IT security and cyber talent landscape to determine who the senior leaders are in cloud, security and ‘smart’ asset protection as they search for talent to manage their increasingly complex and dispersed information technology needs. This is especially true for making that critical CIO hire, because multinational companies need executives that have the depth and breadth of experience required to manage both cybersecurity threats and the other needs associated with managing a company’s data and IP assets.

That said, having technical knowledge is only half of what is required of today’s FTSE 200 / Fortune 500 CIO. Companies also need to find candidates that understand the global technology landscape to be able to address threats and roadblocks from countries like China and Russia. They also need to find candidates that provide the right cultural fit to be able to serve in a leadership role, including the ability to communicate their position on IT issues to Board members and employees alike. CHROs who employ the right tools upfront to help assess cultural fit will benefit in the long run given the prominent role a CIO plays within a multinational organization and the investment that is made at this level to retain the best talent.

Through continual training, better communication and ensuring a strong cultural fit, multinationals will be one step closer to helping ensure they’ve done all they can in being proactive and aggressive in the way they deal with potential cyber attacks.

 

This article was written by CIO Central Guest from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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