Thomas Stoesser l Oct 26, 2023 l Data Protection, Business Value

How Cybersecurity Can Be a Catalyst for Technology Innovation

Innovation is a primary engine of growth for modern business. It helps organizations stay relevant at a time of intense technological change. It can also help them to become more efficient. And it can even encourage the brightest and best talent to join the company, as well creating a buzz among customers. Yet for innovation to thrive it must go hand-in-hand with cybersecurity. Without the latter, important digital transformation projects could be derailed—losing the trust of customers and regulators.

By protecting the critical intellectual property on which innovative ideas are built, and the services themselves, organizations can use cyber as a foundation for innovation-fueled growth.

Innovation under threat

Innovation is more than just a nice-to-have for ambitious boards. McKinsey research reveals that companies capable of harnessing “the essentials of innovation” can generate profits 2.4 times those of other businesses. It’s no surprise that over 80% of executives view it as a top three priority. Yet working out the “who,” “what” and “how” is not even half the battle. Once those ideas are formulated, it’s critical that they are kept safe from prying eyes.

That’s especially true in highly competitive industries like pharmaceuticals, where it can take 10-15 years to bring a drug to market. A single misplaced click on a phishing link could be enough to herald a devastating data breach, akin to potentially throwing away billions of dollars in R&D. Innovation is also intrinsically linked to technology development. Here too security is vital to keep important projects on track. Just consider if:

  • An innovative new customer-facing app is compromised, exposing the details of countless customers to threat actors. The number of web application attacks on financial services firms alone surged 257% between 2021 and 2022
  • A developer team accidentally downloads a buggy or malicious open source component, causing a major security incident. One report found that 2.1 billion open source downloads with known vulnerabilities in 2023 could have been avoided if developers had chosen a fixed version instead

Security as enabler

According to EY, only 6% of energy firms would describe cybersecurity as enabling innovation. Most consider it in terms of “compliance” or managing risk. This view is likely shared across most sectors. That’s a huge missed opportunity. In fact, cybersecurity can be a critical enabler of innovation and growth, if organizations allow it to.

It can protect important IP to safeguard innovative R&D secrets. It can minimize the chances of vulnerabilities or malware finding their way into code. And it can ensure that, even if an organization is breached, it won’t suffer any major regulatory repercussions or reputational damage. That’s particularly important to innovation, because such concerns can rapidly derail or postpone important digital transformation projects. Security provides pace of mind to shoot for the stars, safe in the knowledge that security breaches won’t prematurely halt work. It’s why security by design and default is now recommended as best practice across every industry.

So how can organizations get to a level of maturity where they’re building security into everything they do? CISOs should consider the following:

  • Upskill and direct the security team to work closely with project leaders from the start on any new technology initiative
  • Engage the board to show why security needs baking into such projects. And engage frequently with them to show the value of doing so
  • Find ways to insert security into business processes without impeding progress on innovation. Continuous automated patch management, seamless biometric authentication and data-centric security are a good place to start

This is where comforte’s Data Security Platform can help. It’s designed to automatically, continuously and seamlessly discover and classify data wherever it resides in the organization, and then provide multiple options for protecting it. This includes tokenization, which allows data to be used for innovative analytics use cases without compromising security. With the right approach, security can be a catalyst for tech innovation, and therefore a critical competitive differentiator.

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