The Road to Freedom: How a Strong Security Culture Can Enable Digital Transformation

The “new oil” — that’s how data is being referred to these days. Organizations all over the world are redefining their business models, reinventing themselves, rethinking their security culture and building around experiences. Users and their data are at the center of these experiences, so it is only natural that data breaches and security incidents have recently taken on a new dimension.

With an average cost of $3.86 million per breach and a whopping $39.49 million for megabreaches, organizations are rightfully frightened. But where fear paralyzes, prevention, timely detection and risk management can be liberating. Cybersecurity, if regarded as a strategic business enabler rather than an obstacle, can become the path to a smoother, freer digital transformation. The main challenge here lies in an organization’s ability to innovate.

Artificial Intelligence Can Help

The NHS Institute defines innovation as “doing things differently and doing different things” as a means for opening up to greater opportunities. While this mindset is critical for digital reinvention, cybersecurity can benefit from it too. Organizations have slowly yet rather successfully gone from a siloed and perimeter-based security culture to adopting integrated and intelligence-based strategies. But today’s threat and regulatory landscapes require an even higher level of cyber resiliency. Innovation is an effective path to achieving this, but an organization must be bold enough to do things differently and in a way that addresses technology, processes and people as a whole.

Applying artificial intelligence (AI) to cybersecurity is a great example of innovation. This technology is disrupting the way organizations aggregate large volumes of data, identify and contain vulnerabilities, protect against cyberattacks, and even establish digital trust.

AI allows security leaders to augment the work of analysts significantly. The Ponemon Institute’s “Artificial Intelligence in Cyber-Security” report found that out of 603 respondents, 60 percent believe that AI-based technologies can provide deeper security than a human alone could. The same 60 percent also agreed that AI increases productivity. The math on this speaks for itself. The study revealed that security teams that don’t use AI spend 400 hours per week chasing false positives. The average time using AI is only 41 hours per week. Lastly, 40 percent of respondents said that previously undetectable zero-day exploits could be detected with the help of AI.

Download the Ponemon study

Cost Reduction Is Key, But Productivity Wins the Game

With AI also helping reduce identification, contention and analysis times, it makes sense that 61 percent of organizations plan to increase their investment in AI in the next year. It seems like a wise investment when you consider that an organization can reduce the average cost per record of a data breach — $148 — by $8 just by implementing AI technologies. The Ponemon report noted that with AI, a company can potentially save an average of more than $2.5 million in operating costs per year.

Most importantly, disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence can free security teams to better focus their energy. Ponemon’s “Cost of a Data Breach” study put the mean time to identify a data breach at 197 days, with a 67-day average to contain it. Security teams spend more than half a year identifying breaches and more than 20,000 hours chasing false positives. Caught in this vortex of cybercrime and compliance, businesses are locked in a “golden cage.” A proactive strategy with an AI-involved approach leads to businesses being more aware of what happened, what can happen and, above all, what should be done.

Innovate to Improve Security Culture

Getting the security basics right, integrating artificial intelligence and aligning technology with processes for better productivity are critical cybersecurity mandates. Preparedness and accountability also play a role in mitigating risks and removing fear from the equation. But bringing innovation successfully into the organization also means changing how people think and talk about security. A lack of awareness and growing myths around security have led organizations to face an imminent challenge: the skills gap.

It is estimated that by 2020, there will be 1.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs. This means that students and professionals are either not engaging with security in meaningful ways or encountering entry barriers too large to surpass. At IBM, we have helped address the skills gap by innovating in several domains, including:

  • Collaboration — working with our customers to leverage the research and expertise of our X-Force team to train and test their security programs;

  • Engaging in design thinking practices to help organizations achieve a holistic view of cybersecurity and apply it to their operations;

  • Working with universities on their security curriculum; and

  • Embracing a new collar approach.

A security culture that permeates all areas and levels within the organization is critical to ensuring the success of an integrated and intelligent security strategy. After all, it is the people inside the organization who hold the key to any type of transformation.

Regain Your Freedom

IBM Security’s mission statement reads, “We exist to protect the world, freeing you to thrive in the face of cyber uncertainty.” Businesses exist to do business, not engage in cyberwarfare. Organizations must consider approaching cybersecurity as a process, not a product. This shift in mindset, along with daring to innovate, can enable them to not only keep fraudsters out but also to transform freely and, ultimately, succeed.

Download the complete Ponemon study

Eduardo Palacio

Security Specialist, IBM Security

Eduardo is an accomplished security professional with extensive experience in financial fraud prevention. Currently...