Man smiling at camera holding a laptop in conference room with 5 Digital Transformation Success Factors in white text

Man smiling at camera holding a laptop in conference room happy because he has achieved the 5 Digital Transformation Success Factors

Digital transformation is intrinsically linked to technology, but the most vital digital transformation success factors are less about tech and more about planning, strategy, and support. Here we explore our five must-haves for a successful digital transformation and how you can achieve them in your organization.

Our top 5 digital transformation success factors are:

1. Be proactive
2. Avoid Band-Aid solutions
3. Focus on the need, not the tools
4. Prioritize user adoption
5. Don’t go it alone

1. Be proactive

“The key to cutting through the confusion is to see that digital transformation is not a single thing, but a multi-faceted journey with differing goals depending on your industry and digital maturity.” – Harvard Business Review

Digital transformation is much more than implementing technology. It’s a fundamental, holistic change to the way businesses run. Whether you have identified areas of improvement or wish to undertake digital transformation as part of organizational growth, you must consider your current and long-term goals. This is likely a no-brainer. But you also must take it a step further: you must look at the total impact and buy-in for digital transformation across your entire organization. This begins with a deep understanding of your existing infrastructure, architecture, processes, and teams. (In the case of mergers and acquisitions, this includes evaluating the landscape of all organizations to ensure unified integration.) Next, stakeholders and product owners must be in alignment regarding the viability of service implementation. This includes setting practical timelines and budgets with added consideration to how change requests may influence each. Also critical is establishing realistic expectations for existing teams, including if IT teams can support new infrastructure or if support solutions like MSP services may be required.

Successful digital transformation is never impulsive or performed in a departmental vacuum, but it can be challenging to know how to take the first step towards a clear and cohesive strategy. A practical starting point begins with creating an IT Plan and road map. Download our IT Planning e-book to get started.


Related Content →  What is digital transformation? Watch the video to learn more.


2. Avoid Band-Aid solutions

Being proactive is ideal, but sometimes things need to break to galvanize us into action. And seeking quick fixes, depending on the severity of the issue, can be tempting. But patching a leak will only delay the flood. What’s worse? Small ad hoc fixes can exacerbate the issue by adding even more layers of complexity to dig through, often leading to elevated costs and delays. Resist being led astray by reactive urgency. It is important to evaluate the root cause of issues to prevent recurrence and maintain long-term success.

Working with digital transformation solution experts can help you investigate pain points and identify areas of improvement. At Coretelligent, we help clients develop the strategy required to keep digital transformation projects on track and in line with business objectives. We also help clients with ongoing maintenance and support to ensure systems stay secure and running at peak performance.

3. Focus on the need, not the tools

It is human nature to be drawn to the new shiny thing. But just because a new solution, technology, or tool seems ubiquitous doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you.

It’s important to consider your end goals and ability to implement before making costly investments in technology that may not deliver. Consider these questions: Does the technology really serve all your needs? Does it pair well with your existing technology stack? Does your existing platform possess the same yet untapped capabilities desired? Do you have a team with the expertise and bandwidth to implement and support new initiatives?

We recently worked with a professional services client that wanted to gain insights and visualizations into disparate data but didn’t have the expertise to implement the tool they purchased for the job. Coretelligent helped the client gain insights by using their preferred tool and leveraging capabilities within their existing platform.

4. Prioritize user adoption

Another key digital transformation success factor is user adoption. This is of equal importance for both backend users and customers alike for digital transformation to succeed.

Employees

Enthusiastic user adoption is a critical component of successful digital transformation, and it starts with your employees. It can be challenging for teams to transition to new working methods, especially if they have grown accustomed to specific technologies and are comfortable with the habits they have structured around them. Introducing digitalization and automation may also create anxiety regarding job retention or skill capability. To help ease this culture shock, it is vital to keep teams informed and educated through the digital transformation journey. This includes providing training and being open to feedback, which can aid in identifying bugs and opportunities for enhancements. Ultimately, how well your teams adapt and adopt will translate directly to the effectiveness and efficiency of your digital transformation initiative.

Customers

You must also consider the impact on your customers, particularly if digital transformation will modify product adoption. As an example, a utility client wanted to enhance user onboarding but did not have the digital infrastructure to support their initiatives. They identified a need for a more robust, self-service website and a paperless method for new user registration. However, many of their existing customers were elderly, still preferring to manage accounts by mail and paper check. While it was important for the utility to create a web interface that modernized their customer journey, they needed to be sensitive to existing customers who would not or could not adopt digital practices. Ensuring all customer journeys remained intact was critical to the digital transformation, even if it meant retaining some traditional methods. Keeping all parties informed about changes and educating them on how to use new features allowed both new and existing customers to feel supported and more likely to remain loyal to the brand.

5. Don’t go it alone

At the end of the day, the root of all digital transformation success comes down to one key factor: support. This includes ensuring you have firm commitment to your digital transformation initiative from within your organization—and from digital transformation experts.

Even the best internal IT teams may fail at digital transformation because it is simply not what they do. Adding on an entire shift in operating procedure can be overwhelming to existing teams. Digital transformation experts help organizations objectively assess needs and develop a plan that modernizes, streamlines, and enhances existing practices with architecture and technology complementary to existing infrastructure.


Related Content → Read how Coretelligent’s CoreDTS team helped a client realize their digital transformation goals → Leveraging Digital Transformation: A Multiphase Case Study.


Working with a digital transformation services provider like Coretelligent goes beyond technical implementation. A major component includes advising clients throughout the digital transformation journey for continued support of their organization. By maintaining open communication with stakeholders and product owners, the collaboration allows clients to receive a total picture of their business’s innerworkings, guarantees buy-in, and provides more opportunities for improvement and finetuning along the way. Plus, digital transformation experts will provide training and support to ensure your teams are equipped to maximize the potential of your solution.

 

Lessons Learned from Data Breaches

Data Breaches 2022 Humans tend to move on to the next big thing quickly, and with rapidly changing security and regulatory environments, CISOs are no different. We all face new challenges daily, but as we focus on the latest priority in front of us, we must also remember to look back and revisit previous events to ensure we’re practicing hard lessons learned.

Thousands of hacks and data breaches have been reported this year, with victims ranging from public and private companies to local governments and school districts. However, several breaches stand out to me, and now that the dust has settled on them, I think they warrant a deeper dive to uncover what lessons can be gleaned from them.

In this post, I’ll share the story of three data breaches and highlight the salient details you need to know to protect your organization in this age of cybercrime.

Three Significant Data Breaches in 2022

  1. The Okta Breach

Okta works with several partners to help manage its enterprise. Hackers targeted an employee of one of these partners, the Sitel Group, who had privileged access to provide customer service to Okta clients and data. That account was empowered to reset passwords and reset multifactor authentication.

The Sitel Group serves many more customers than Okta. To perform their jobs, support staff often need administrative privileges in their customer’s environment. The attack highlights the increased risk of outsourcing access to your organization’s internal environment.

  1. The Microsoft Breach

In March, Microsoft revealed that an employee account was compromised, which granted hackers “limited access” to Microsoft’s systems and allowed the theft of the company’s source code. Microsoft referenced the hackers’ use of “social engineering and identity-centric tactics” in a blog post detailing the breach. This attack illustrates why training employees about phishing and other social engineering tactics is so important.

  1. The Nvidia Breach

Nvidia, one of the world’s largest graphics processing unit (GPU) manufacturers, was breached in a cyberattack that resulted in the theft and release of over a terabyte of proprietary data and over 71,000 employee credentials. In a statement after the breach, an Nvidia spokesperson did not disclose how hackers were able to gain access, only referring to the attack as a “cybersecurity incident,” but a well-known hacking group quickly took credit for the attack.

What Do These Attacks Have in Common?

It is no coincidence that I am looking back at these three cyber events. The hacks were all claimed by a hacking group known as the Lapsus$ group. Lapsus$ claimed responsibility for the Okta breach, the Microsoft breach, and the breach of Nvidia, among other high-profile targets. The most surprising piece of information about that group is it’s allegedly run by a group of teenagers.

Lessons to be Learned from Teenagers?

The tactics used by the Lapsus$ group are wholly unsophisticated but have still proven time and time again to be effective. The good news is that because their tactics are easily thwarted, organizations have plenty of opportunities to avoid getting hacked by following best practices.

  • Lesson #1: Lapsus$ primarily relied on social engineering schemes to gain access to a target directly or seek access via an organization’s supply chain or service providers. The group claimed that its goal was financial and that it had no political agenda; however, its chaotic approach caused just as destruction in its pursuit of exploiting data.
  • Lesson #2: The Lapsus$ group’s attacks should be a reminder that even the most robust cyber defenses can be circumvented if attackers exploit weak links in the chain. These weak links can be found in both the technical and human domains, but the likeliest way for hackers to gain access is via end-users. As a result, organizations need to be vigilant in educating employees about cyber threats and how to identify and avoid them.
  • Lesson #3: Third-party risk management is also critical in protecting against the type of supply chain attack used against Okta. Companies need to vet their service providers and have security protocols in place to prevent attackers from exploiting these relationships to gain access to sensitive data.

Related Content →  What’s a Supply Chain Attack? Watch the video to learn more.


  • Lesson #4: Additionally, the Lapsus$ group’s attacks show that even small groups of relatively primitive attackers can cause much damage. This fact should be a reminder that organizations must be prepared for all threats, not just those from well-funded and well-developed cybercriminals.

It is important to remember that breaches can and will happen, whether perpetrated by Lapsus$ or other sources, and your company’s response can make all the difference in whether it will survive unscathed. The risk of lost revenue, fines and penalties, and reputational damage require that your company set and follow disaster response and recovery plans.

Reduce Your Risk from Data Breaches?

There are a variety of actions your firm can take to reduce your risk of being hacked, but here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Employ multifactor authentication.
  • Review all critical users’ access levels.
  • Perform due diligence for service providers and third-party vendors.
  • Conduct tabletop exercises to identify possible gaps in controls and training. For example, if an internal employee shared their credentials with an attacker, how could you tell?
  • Take care of your employees. Disgruntled employees are more susceptible to bribes.

Data Breaches 2022


Related Content →  Evaluate your security readiness with our  Cybersecurity Checklist.


Next Steps

Lapsus$’s attacks are a reminder that cyber defenses can be circumvented if attackers can exploit the weakest links in the chain. The best defense is to employ a multilayered cybersecurity solution that includes end-user training, comprehensive security policies and protocols, incident response planning, regular security audits, and more.

In today’s digital world, data is the new currency. And like any other type of currency, it needs to be protected from those who would exploit it. Unfortunately, the Lapsus$ group is just one example of the many cyber criminals out there looking to profit from the data of others.

Whether you work with an internal team or outsource your IT functions, employing robust cybersecurity solutions and regularly reviewing them against your risk profile is critical. Reach out to our security professionals for help evaluating your cybersecurity program to find gaps and areas that need improvement. Implementing security controls is not “set it and forget it” but must routinely be assessed to match the needs of your business and the external challenges of today’s cyber landscape.


JasonAbout Jason

Jason Martino is passionate about the intersection of security and compliance. He is responsible for Coretelligent’s internal cybersecurity programs, governance, risk, compliance activities, and educating staff and customers on an ever-evolving threat landscape.

Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security technology that requires multiple methods of authentication from distinct categories of credentials to verify a user’s identity. It is a crucial component of a robust multilayered cybersecurity posture to help mitigate the risk of a cyberattack. It is also considered a best practice for organizations of all sizes and across all sectors to meet compliance standards—especially in highly-regulated sectors like financial services and life sciences.

Multifactor Authentication Explained

The multifactor authentication method should be familiar to all readers at this point. Companies from Apple and Google to Facebook and Amazon utilize (or require) multifactor authentication to reduce risk. Many more will follow in their footsteps as the threat landscape intensifies from cyberattacks and data breaches and as more regulatory agencies require the process.

When MFA is implemented, systems require users to present a combination of two or more qualifications to verify their identity for login. The first authentication consists of a password, which is all that’s required with single-factor authentication. The second verification can vary but often involves asking for a code sent via text or email to a device or account that has previously been verified.

MFA increases security because even if one credential becomes compromised, unauthorized users will not be able to meet the second authentication requirement and will not be able to access the device, network, or database. MFA prevents the unauthorized access of data—including personally identifiable information, intellectual property, and financial assets—by a third party who may have discovered a single password through illegal channels or via a phishing attack.

Multifactor authentication is an element of identity and access management, which consists of policies and practices designed to manage access to enterprise resources and keep systems and data secure. Additionally, Privileged Access Management (PAM) is a subset of IAM that allows for an even more granular distinction between users and access to more sensitive data.



Two-Factor vs. Multifactor vs. Adaptive

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is the simplest and most common form of multifactor authentication. With 2FA, users must supply two distinct proofs of identity for access. In nearly every case, two-factor authentication is a massive improvement over single-factor.
  • On the other hand, 2FA might not be flexible or robust enough for certain situations and specific industries. With MFA, more than two factors are required for authentication, enabling more variables and security. To elaborate, MFA can grant degrees of access across a broad spectrum of possibilities depending on various data points and multiple factors obtained from the login.
  • Adaptive Authentication is yet another certification tool that uses contextual information and business rules to determine which authentication factors to apply to a particular user, at a certain time, and in a specific situation. It combines user authentication with AI and is an effective tool for balancing security requirements and the user experience. Adaptive MFA also makes access decisions based on data, such as: consecutive login failures, geo-location, geo-velocity (or the physical distance between consecutive login attempts), device type, time of day, and 3rd party intelligence data.

MFA and Multilayered Cybersecurity

While MFA can help strengthen your security, it is still best employed as part of a multilayered cybersecurity program based on a defense-in-depth strategy. Defense-in-depth is a cybersecurity model that employs continuous multilayered security for real-time, holistic protection. The reality of today’s cyber threats is that no one cybersecurity practice is enough to protect on its own. Instead, overlapping layers of cybersecurity protections are recommended. A layered defense helps security organizations reduce vulnerabilities, contain threats, and mitigate risk.

It is also important to note that it is still critical to practice good cyber hygiene, even with MFA. Organizations should set password management policies and educate end-users about best practices. Such policies should include requirements for unique passwords and review the frequency of password rotation, among others.


Related Content →  Evaluate your cybersecurity posture with our  Cybersecurity Checklist.


What is Right for Your Organization?

The answer to this question depends on the specific needs of your business. However, in general, as the threats faced by organizations have become more sophisticated, it has become clear that single-factor authentication is no longer enough to protect data and systems.

Organizations must implement additional layers of security, and MFA is an essential part of that process. Therefore, when selecting an MFA solution, it is important to consider your firm’s needs and choose a solution that will be easy to use and manage by both your IT team and your end-users.

Reach out to our security experts for help in determining which is the right solution for your business and security needs. We can help you assess your risk exposure, determine any compliance requirements for your sector, and evaluate the ease of deployment and implementation necessary, along with other factors.


About Chris

As Chief Technology Officer at Coretelligent, Chris Messer is a transformational and strategic IT leader who establishes and leads Coretelligent’s technical vision and technological development. Click here to learn more about Chris.

Year-End IT Planning

Year-End IT PlanningAs we move into the last quarter of the year, it’s time for the annual review and realignment of your IT planning and strategy. Of course, you have actively been implementing your IT roadmap throughout the year, but a year-end IT planning and review is an opportunity to evaluate its effectiveness and update it for the upcoming year. Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan for the end of the year.

Year-End IT Planning and the IT Road Map

An IT roadmap is a strategic plan that outlines how your business will use technology to achieve its goals. A well-planned roadmap can help your business scale, improve ROI, reduce risk, and increase productivity.

Utilizing an IT roadmap ensures that your IT investments drive value and growth. In addition, a comprehensive plan can help identify areas of your organization’s IT infrastructure that need improvement and prioritize addressing them.

As with any plan, a strategic IT roadmap is only effective if you use it. A high-level annual review offers an opportunity to evaluate successful goal completion, realign with business goals, re-examine key initiatives, acknowledge and implement a plan for gaps, and provide valuable data for setting future KPIs.

What Should a Year-End Review Encompass?

As with other company activities, the year-end technology review reflects what you put into it. So don’t regard it as a meaningless exercise; instead, see it as an opportunity to get valuable information about your company. While results vary from firm to firm, there are certain aspects that all year-end reviews have in common.

1. Review the Current Technology Roadmap

Appraise the initiatives, tactics, and timelines of the current IT strategic plan to evaluate successful completion and future updates.

Reassess the technology of the organization, including:

  • Cybersecurity practices and policies
  • Technology infrastructure
  • Cloud storage and applications
  • Processes and data governance
  • Due diligence, compliance requirements, and risk management

2. Review Business Goals

The review process should also start with refreshing yourself with your company’s mission, vision, and values. Then, this is an opportunity to assess business functions and realign with these foundational pillars.

Of course, a review would not be complete without the inclusion of the business goals for the year you are looking back over. These business objectives can help you formulate a list of questions that can be answered through your review.

Review current business objectives, initiatives, and IT needs across the organization to determine IT initiatives. SWOT analysis can help identify gaps in IT needs across the organization. Key elements to include in the plan include proactive cybersecurity, compliance requirements, business drivers, expected growth, risk management, and identifying opportunities.

3. Assess Key Performance Indicators and Results

Determining success by reviewing metrics is key to establishing the effectiveness of any plan, and an IT roadmap is no exception. Beyond assessing whether goals were completed, there’s also plenty of insight to be gleaned from evaluating the objectives you did not reach. Undergoing this exercise is where the work of developing next year’s IT roadmap through identifying gaps and deficiencies, goals out of alignment, and new technology needs begins.

4. Putting IT All Together for Next Year

The outcome of this exercise is to use these findings from this strategic year-end IT planning process to set initiatives and develop strategic goals for your organization for the upcoming year.

Additionally, business leaders should look externally and evaluate business drivers and market forces, apply competitive research, and assess technology disruptors when determining upcoming IT priorities and business goals to include in next year’s plan.


Download our e-book Paving the Road to Success with Strategic IT Planning to learn more about how developing and implementing an IT roadmap can steer your firm towards success.


Chris Messer, Chief Technology Officer at Coretelligent, HeadshotAbout Chris

As Chief Technology Officer at Coretelligent, Chris Messer is a transformational and strategic IT leader who establishes and leads Coretelligent’s technical vision and technological development. Click here to learn more about Chris.

Person pointing to visualizations and mobile app development to the right of text The Importance of Digital Transformation in Business

Person pointing to visualizations and mobile app development to illustrate the importance of digital transformation in businessThe way we interact with technology has undergone a permanent change.

Customers now communicate virtually, make in-browser or in-app transactions, and manage accounts and sign-ups online without ever touching paper or interacting in person. Covid-19 accelerated how technology transformed business, amplifying the need for new digital processes, and our inevitable adoption of them.

The pandemic forced businesses to modify their workflow and service delivery to accommodate changes like remote work and the move away from brick-and-mortar establishments. Businesses needed to rapidly reevaluate their IT infrastructure and put mechanisms in place so they could continue to provide service and stay competitive while adapting to a changing world.

This disruption acted as a global case study for the vital need to embrace the importance of digital transformation in business. And it worked: according to Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology Trends 2023, “94% of CEOs want to maintain or accelerate pandemic-driven digital transformation.”

So, what is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is the strategic adoption and implementation of digital technology to enhance customer experience and drive success.

From the wheel to mobile phones, technology has always been a part of our lives. The switch to digital technology is the first step towards a digital transformation. At the most basic level, this means transitioning away from all things analog, a process referred to as digitization. A common example of digitization would be a company taking data from physical repositories, such as on-premise servers or physical paper files, and moving that data to the cloud.

Inherently, moving from analog to digital means adhering to new processes that are baked into the new platform, tool, or technology that is being used, adjusting how business is conducted to suit, and using these adjustments as opportunities for change—this is digitalization. Instead of accessing a physical file cabinet to find a document, digitalization requires you to access that same data from a cloud-based content management system and follow out-of-box steps to complete tasks such as secure file sharing. This can fundamentally change the way a business runs. For instance, the process above could be the first step towards a remote work transition.

But digitized data and digitalization are only as good as what you do with their potential. Transformation is critical to developing strategy that leverages the power of both in a way complementary to your business needs.

Getting Started with Digital Transformation

Digital transformation begins with evaluating how workflows, operations, and customer success can be served better using digital technology. Expertly crafted strategy is then developed to address challenges, optimize processes, and support goals as they shift and scale. Following development, integration, implementation, and deployment of required services, digital transformation experts can provide training and support to maintain enthusiastic user adoption.

Let’s consider our example scenario above. While the company may have gained better organization and collaboration upon digitizing their data, they may still be unsatisfied with their technology investment. An evaluation conducted by digital transformation experts might uncover that the company’s team continues to struggle with data entry errors and time-consuming reporting due to manually entering data from paper forms into spreadsheets. A digital transformation strategy could include identifying ways in which the company could leverage their current technology platforms to streamline processes to capture data more securely and effectively, automate reporting, and even provide on-demand visualizations in dashboards available on mobile devices.

Digital transformation experts are key to identifying roadblocks and building strategies to help businesses overcome hurdles. By developing strategy that incorporates how to leverage the key components of your technology environment, digital transformation strategists can identify how those technologies work with existing architecture and platforms to address needs, provide opportunities for growth and enhancement, and suggest ways to economize and generate revenue. Digital transformation also considers how both business users and customers will interact with and benefit from these enhancements to ensure that all parties utilize them.

Digital Transformation Services

Digital transformation encompasses many technologies and service types. As a digital transformation service provider, Coretelligent has identified the following solutions as the most significant and sought-after digital transformation services for our clients:

In addition to being game changing standalone services, the importance of digital transformation in business is best exemplified in the way these services can work together for an even more robust impact. These services are also highly complementary and able to provide robust value as total digital transformation solutions.

Here are some of the more common digital transformation solutions:

  • Mobile app development, including UI/UX services, application integration, data warehousing, analytics and visualizations, automation services, microservices, support services
  • Website redesign, including website development, UI/UX services, ecommerce, data management, API integration, maintenance, enhancement, and support services
  • Workflow automation, including end-to-end automation services, data quality, data analytics, visualizations, and compliant infrastructure

Coretelligent’s digital transformation experts can deliver the services you need to stay competitive and agile over the competition. Coretelligent will assist you in maximizing the potential of your digital transformation from development through support using a comprehensive build-and-operate approach. We will work with you to evaluate your business needs and challenges and develop a strategy that makes use of the best available technology and your existing IT infrastructure. After deployment, we’ll make sure your solution keeps working for you by providing the maintenance, improvements, and support you need. Learn how Coretelligent can help you recognize the importance of digital transformation for your business and help you gain a competitive edge with our CoreDTS solutions.

Four Tools to Evaluate and Improve Your Cybersecurity Posture

 

Cybersecurity ResourcesCybersecurity Awareness Month is recognized every October. Now in its 19th year, this month is a collaborative effort between Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to ensure that individuals, organizations, and businesses have the cybersecurity tips and resources they need to be safe and secure online.

Cybersecurity headlines often focus on breaches or attacks, but this month highlights available resources and strategies to maintain security all year long and avoid the headlines.

To do our part and help raise awareness, Coretelligent has put together a list of various digital resources to utilize to better evaluate, understand, and improve your cybersecurity posture.

What Cybersecurity Resources Can You Utilize Today?

  1. Cybersecurity Checklist

    To help you appraise your cybersecurity readiness, the experts at Coretelligent have created a Cybersecurity Evaluation Checklist. This checklist is a jumping-off point to help your enterprise determine its ability to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks before it is too late.

    This checklist can help you identify initial cybersecurity successes and opportunities for growth in your existing security measures to help you develop an IT roadmap that minimizes risk while supporting growth.

  1. Risk Mitigation Case Study

    This risk mitigation case study looks at Coretelligent’s partnership with client Courier Express to establish a comprehensive cybersecurity solution and can help you better understand partnering with an MSP.

    As one of the largest courier companies in the nation, Courier Express has round-the-clock operations that rely on a continuous flow of transactional data. Understanding that cyberattacks pose a significant threat to their operations, Courier Express works with Coretelligent to mitigate those threats.

    This study illustrates how an MSP partnership can help you defend against cyber threats, elevate your IT game, and free up your in-house staff to focus on growth and innovation.

  2. Best Practices for Safeguarding Against Critical Cyberthreats

    Looking for ways to increase your cybersecurity posture today but not sure where to start? Watch this video to learn ways to protect yourself and your organization from cyber threats.

    In 2021, ransomware attacks increased by 105%, and the current geopolitical situation has led to an even higher level of risk for businesses of all sizes and across all industries. This heightened cyber threat landscape requires robust security solutions to protect against cyberattacks, data breaches, malware, ransomware, and other critical cyber threats. Learn more about what steps you can take today and how to stay proactive into the future.

  3. Multilayered Cybersecurity with Defense-in-Depth Video

    Maybe you already have some cybersecurity solutions but want to build more robust protection. That’s where defense-in-depth comes in. It is a system of continuous and overlapping security layers that range from simple controls to complex security tools. These layers are designed to create an interlocking barrier that is continuously monitoring and protecting your assets. With multilayered security, if one layer of defense is breached, there are additional layers in place to mitigate any exposure. This model is designed to handle sophisticated cyber-attacks and delivers a more robust cybersecurity solution that is necessary for today’s volatile cyber landscape.

    In watching this video, you’ll learn more about the goal of defense-in-depth and how it benefits your company. Creating multiple barriers slows down attackers and sends out intrusion alerts before significant damage is done. Multilayered cybersecurity will also satisfy many compliance standards for industries like financial services and life sciences.

Build a Balance of Business and Security

Balancing business initiatives with security and technology can seem challenging, but Coretelligent can help. After reviewing these resources, we encourage you to contact our cybersecurity experts. Protect your business and learn more about our enhanced managed cybersecurity services designed specifically for small-to-mid-sized companies. Reduce your risk from security incidents – contact us today for help responding to your cybersecurity gaps.

Looking for more cybersecurity tips? Check out our list of 7 Security Tips for Practicing Good Cyber Hygiene.

Cybersecurity and the Human Element

Businesses invest in many technologies to prevent cybercriminals from breaching their systems. By implementing firewalls, antivirus, and endpoint protection, organizations hope to put a barrier between an attacker and company data. These tools are very effective when implemented correctly, but there’s a catch. Cybercriminals often bypass perimeter security measures by focusing their efforts on one thing, humans.

That’s right; humans often play a critical role in data breaches. Attackers look for human errors to exploit or leverage social engineering tactics like phishing to obtain sensitive information and credentials. Once a cybercriminal possesses stolen credentials, they will look for ways to move laterally throughout your network.

Firms need to establish strong cybersecurity policies and provide user awareness training to minimize the human element. In fact, user training and awareness are so critical to cybersecurity that The Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) identified them as key factors in its Cybersecurity and Resiliency Observations report.

Cybersecurity Policies

To prevent users from putting your business at risk, create robust cybersecurity policies that include:

Password Policies

Make sure your organization has password policies. Bad password habits make it easy for attackers to gain access to your systems. Two of the most common password problems are weak and reused passwords. Attackers often use automated systems to guess passwords. The weaker the password, the easier it is to guess. Require your users to have strong passwords that are long and complex.

Your policies should prohibit users from reusing passwords. Reusing passwords makes it easy for an attacker to gain access to multiple accounts. For example, let’s say a user has the same password for their online banking and business email. If their bank becomes breached, that attacker now has information to access an email account at your business. From here, the attacker could impersonate the user, sending malicious emails throughout the company.

Lastly, your organization should create a standardized schedule for password resets. A standardized schedule improves security and keeps password policies top of mind for users.

Clear Desk Policy

Cybercriminals may use in-person tactics. Implementing a clear desk policy can prevent an attacker who visits your organization, an employee who’s an insider threat, or someone who wants to capitalize on an opportunity from stealing or leaking data. Require users to lock their computers when they are not at their desks. Any document containing personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property, or sensitive information should be locked in a restricted storage area to prevent unauthorized access.

Security Awareness Training

Cyberattacks have become more sophisticated, making it difficult for users to tell the difference between cybercriminals and trustworthy sources. KnowBe4 reported that “…1 out of 3 employees was likely to click on a suspicious link or email or comply with a fraudulent request…” in their Phishing by Industry 2022 Benchmark Report. The good news is that this same report showed that users could substantially reduce their risky behaviors with phishing awareness training.

Human error often happens because users don’t understand the level of risk associated with their actions, and they are not familiar with the tactics used by cybercriminals. Comprehensive security awareness training educates users on identifying attacker tactics and actionable steps they can take if they notice something suspicious. Organizations should also consider phishing-specific awareness training as phishing is one of the most common attack vectors.

Businesses should conduct user awareness training regularly. After users have completed awareness training, your organization should verify the effectiveness of that training by conducting a phishing test. These processes will help you identify your organization’s risks and help you further develop your training.

Reducing Risk

Even a human with the best intentions can make a mistake. Unfortunately, no matter how innocent the error, it can lead to a breach. In addition to cybersecurity policies and user awareness training, implement tools to strengthen your access rights and controls, and monitor your network for suspicious activities.

Multi-factor Authentication

If an attacker obtains credentials to your business, having multi-factor authentication (MFA) implemented can prevent the attacker from accessing your network. With MFA, a user needs to enter another factor like a code via an app or text in addition to their username and password. So, an attacker would require a user’s cellphone and credentials to log into their account.

Set Expectations with New Employees

A new trend has emerged that targets new hires directly, taking advantage of the victim’s status as a new employee. Attackers prey on those who have recently announced new roles on social media websites such as LinkedIn. Attackers find the target’s phone number on a data brokerage website and use it to send an SMS phish while pretending to be an executive from their new employer. The SMS phish will often ask for either gift cards or sensitive data. New hires must have appropriate security awareness training to combat this new social engineering tactic. Share with your employees what standard communication from the C-Level or executives in your company would look like so that it is easier to spot a fake. Lastly, new hires should be advised to limit posts about new positions on social media to give these threat actors fewer opportunities to strike.

Active Security Monitoring

Organizations can make the mistake of assuming that they have security monitoring when they only have performance monitoring. Security monitoring detects your network’s suspicious activities and security incidents, while performance monitoring only checks for functionality.

If a human error allows an attacker to access your network, security monitoring can help your security team detect the attacker’s activities. It can be difficult to identify an attacker’s behaviors when masked by a legitimate account. Implementing a security event and information management (SIEM) platform helps security analysts identify an attacker’s behavior by correlating activities across the network. SIEM platforms allow security teams to investigate a problem before it becomes a breach.

Holistic Cybersecurity

At the end of the day, humans make mistakes. The truth is a data breach can happen even with the best technology and user training. Taking a holistic approach to cybersecurity is the best way to mitigate your risk. Start by evaluating your current cybersecurity risk with our Cybersecurity Checklist.

After completing your evaluation, reach out to discuss your current cybersecurity posture with our technical experts. Coretelligent has years of experience providing the holistic, real-time protection and threat intelligence needed to safeguard your critical systems and data and maintain compliance.

Data Loss Prevention

We are all aware of the anxiety losing something can cause. If you’ve ever misplaced your wallet, you are aware of the lasting impact it has. First, you have to get in touch with your bank, then request a new license, and then update all your existing accounts with the new information when it arrives. Even after handling the seemingly endless immediate effects of the loss, the fear of what happened to your personal information may last a while.

Now imagine if you were an organization that lost hundreds of thousands of records containing personally identifiable information (PII) or intellectual property (IP). In 2022 alone, several major companies such as Uber and Rockstar Games have been affected by data breaches that have compromised large quantities of their stored PII.

Numerous factors, including internal and external threats, system flaws, or even human conduct, can lead to data loss. Whatever the source, your company can take steps to stop data loss, shorten the duration of the incident, and lower the overall cost to your organization. The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) notes data loss prevention as a critical area in their Cybersecurity and Resilience Observations report.

What is Data Loss Prevention?

Data loss prevention (DLP) involves having systems, tools, policies, and training to prevent data from being misused, lost, or accessed by unauthorized users. Preventing data loss is especially crucial for businesses that handle sensitive information like personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property (IP), and personal health information (PHI). IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report found that PII was the most common type of record lost, included in 44% of breaches. PII is also most costly type of stolen record costing businesses up to $180 per record.

For those in highly regulated industries, like financial services and life sciences, data loss prevention is required. Data management and security are crucial elements in FDA Title 21, CFR Part 11, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), FINRA, and SEC rule 17a-4. Keep in mind that many of these regulations require preventative measures, specific actions, and documentation in the event of a data breach.

The Cost of Data Loss

Whether you experience a data breach from an inside user or permanent data loss from a malicious attack, there are long term consequences. Decreased productivity, loss of consumer and investor confidence, legal fees, and remediation expenses are only a few of the costs. For many organizations, it can take years to recover from the damage. Unfortunately, some businesses don’t survive these costs and are forced to close.

Even if you experience a breach, having a data loss prevention strategy can reduce the costs. The average cost of a breach is $4.24 million. Data loss prevention can reduce the overall cost of a breach by $136,992, according to IBM’s 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report.

Developing a Strategy

To meet compliance standards and secure your data, your organization needs to have a comprehensive security plan that includes preventative and responsive actions.

Develop Comprehensive Policies

When we think about cybersecurity and data protection, we often think of technology. Although technology is a significant factor in security, policies set the tone for the organization and provide guidance on which technology solutions are needed. A lack of policies and procedures can undermine even the best technologies.

Create an Asset Inventory

You can’t protect your data if you don’t know where it is. Develop an asset inventory that lists all your data, where it lives, and how it’s currently being protected. Be sure to note your critical assets and systems that would affect your business operations.

Assess and Treat Vulnerabilities

To understand how your organization could experience data loss, you need to be aware of what vulnerabilities exist in your environment. Establish regular, comprehensive vulnerability assessments and penetration tests to stay on top of your current weaknesses.

Create and implement treatment plans for discovered vulnerabilities, e.g., patch management schedule, awareness training, and comprehensive policies.

Implement Access Control

Determine paths of ingress and egress for sensitive information. Determine who has access to sensitive data and implement the principle of least privilege to ensure that access is restricted to only those that should have it. Ensure access and usage are audited. Implement appropriate restrictions and logging at all points of egress.

Conduct Security Awareness Training

Since human error remains among the top causes of data breaches, it’s essential to conduct quarterly or semi-annual security awareness training. Users who have received training are better equipped to spot harmful emails and phishing schemes. It also teaches them what steps to take if they have received this type of communication.

Implement Perimeter and Endpoint Security

Remote work is here to stay, and as such, the perimeter of your network is no longer limited to the boundaries of your office or data center. You need to ensure that you have total visibility into all incoming and outgoing network traffic, including endpoints. Implement firewalls, endpoint protection platforms, and email security. These tools will give your IT team or MSP the visibility they need to detect and respond to threats straight away.

Having a dedicated security team to actively monitor your environment around the clock allows them to respond quickly to suspicious activities occurring on your network.

Properly Dispose of Legacy Systems

Remove software that is no longer receiving security patching from the vendor. Ensure that all sensitive data is removed when disposing of outdated software and hardware. Use disposal or recycling vendors that provide a certificate of destruction.

Create a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan

Unfortunately, even with the best security measures in place, data loss is still a possibility. That’s why you need to have regular and tested backups along with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. A plan will help your organization maintain business continuity and compliance while addressing a disaster or breach.

Staying Compliant and Protecting Your Data

Data loss can have a significant and irreversible impact on your business. Data loss prevention is an essential component of your overall security posture. To maintain compliance, your organization must secure and monitor your data continuously. As the threat of cyber-attacks continues to grow, it can be challenging to balance security, compliance, and day-to-day support. Coretelligent can help to strengthen your cybersecurity posture and protect your data. You can learn more about what we offer, including cloud-based solutions, backup and business continuity services, IT planning and strategy, compliance solutions, and more here.

IT Security and Compliance

IT Security and ComplianceSecurity and compliance are often used interchangeably in IT, but that is actually a misnomer as they are not equivalent. So, just what are the differences between IT security and compliance?

Security and compliance are equally important but for varying reasons. Whereas security drivers are related to mitigating business risks, compliance drivers are regulatory or legal in nature. Compliance and security have similar objectives around managing risks and securing sensitive data and systems but have different processes and workflows to accomplish these goals.

Compliance involves applying regulatory standards to meet contractual or third-party regulatory requirements.  In contrast, security constitutes the implementation of adequate technical controls to protect digital assets from cyber threats.

 

IT Security and Compliance

Still, again, they are similar but not equal. So why is the distinction between security and compliance important? It is significant because implementing one without the other could lead to devastating consequences for your company.

Cybersecurity

Ask yourself, “Would it be a significant hardship if company assets are stolen, compromised, misused, or destroyed?” The answer is, “Of course.” That’s the motivation behind implementing cybersecurity—the desire to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of company assets through security controls and best practices.

IT security is unique to each organization—the measures set by one entity may be entirely different from those of another. Security focuses on comprehensively mitigating any risk that may threaten an organization’s data confidentiality, availability, and integrity—it relates to all the electronic and physical data of an organization and not just those covered by compliance.

We don’t walk around with our bank account or social security numbers on our foreheads—that would be reckless. Instead, we do our best to secure sensitive information from individuals who want to steal it because securing valuable data is a prudent action to reduce the associated risks of identity theft and drained bank accounts.

Cybersecurity acts the same way. Recognizing the risks, smart business leaders choose to secure assets to protect their business from harm and keep their business. The fallout from inadequately securing business assets can lead to loss of business revenue, costly lawsuits and settlements, theft of intellectual property and proprietary information, reputational loss, inability to operate, and business shutdown.

IT Compliance

The confusion between the two functions arises because the outcomes from implementing compliance measures often overlap with implementing security measures. However, the motivation behind organizational compliance is to ensure that obligations and requirements are satisfied to avoid negative consequences and ensure business viability.

These external compliance requirements and standards include a range of often intersecting and complicated networks of government, industry, financial, and even customer requirements. Cybersecurity is often a small part of a greater set of requirements. Examples include:

  • Self-regulatory organizations like PCI Security Council (PCI DSS) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
  • Governmental bodies like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Government regulations, including Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GBLA), FTC Safeguard Rule, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX)
  • Privacy standards, including HIPAA/HITECH, GDPR, CCPA
  • Technical Standards and Certifications, including ISO27001, SOC2
  • Control frameworks, including NIST CSF, CIS Critical Security Controls
  • Client SLAs
  • Due Diligence requests (DDQ)
  • And more depending on your industry and other factors.

Looking at the worst possible outcomes, the legal and financial ramifications of non-compliance with these and other standards would lead to your organization paying hefty fines and penalties, facing costly lawsuits, being blocked from working in certain locations and industries, not being able to take payments, loss of financing and investors, not being able to acquire insurance, and more.

The Big Picture

The reality is that neither IT security nor compliance lives in a vacuum. Instead, they are complementary—symbiotic even. They successfully function from a mutually beneficial association that enhances and reinforces the benefits of each other. One without the other would be like trying to make water without oxygen or hydrogen.

Being compliant with a specific set of standards is not the same as having an effective and robust information security system. Compliance simply measures whether your security protocols meet a given set of one-size-fits-all security standards at a given point in time.

A robust security system makes it easier for an organization to meet compliance standards since most of the needed controls will already be in place. All that would remain, to attain compliance, would be documentation work and adhering to industry-specific policies.

It’s All About Managing Risk

The real question every business leader should be asking is how to leverage both security and compliance to reduce exposure and risk. Compliance establishes a comprehensive baseline for covering an organization’s overall posture. At the same time, security practices build on that baseline to ensure that the business is protected from every angle.

It’s all about risk. Or, more accurately, reducing risk. And security combined with compliance is the one-two punch every business needs to minimize risk and protect assets.

For companies of any size, Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is about aligning cyber and information technology with business objectives, while managing risk and meeting regulatory compliance requirements. Therefore, an effective GRC strategy is essential because it pulls together the complexity of various risk, compliance, and governance functions into a single strategy.

Successful companies address cyber risk in a business context. From that point of view, avoiding fines and data breaches are preferable. In establishing and implementing compliance and security, smart leaders treat them as a risk-management concern and just not an “IT problem.” Integrating your security and compliance teams into your risk assessment program will lead to mutually assured success.

Additionally, certain industries, like financial services and life sciences, have overlapping requirements originating from a variety of sources which can make fore a complicated matrix to follow. Working with an IT vendor who specializes in your particular industry is ideal to ensure compliance across all regulations.

Choosing the right security and compliance solutions is also critical. Operating with a “checkbox” approach to either compliance or security will lead your organization towards a rocky future. Instead, focus on developing and adhering to robust policies and choosing the right solutions based on your industry needs, risk assessment, and business goals to satisfy and streamline your compliance and security activities.


JasonAbout Jason

Jason Martino is passionate about the intersection of security and compliance. He is responsible for Coretelligent’s internal cybersecurity programs, governance, risk, compliance activities, and educating staff and customers on an ever-evolving threat landscape.

Data Terms Data Lake vs Data Warehouse vs Data Fabric

Data Terms Data Lake vs Data Warehouse vs Data FabricOur shift to a digital world is fueling the creation of massive data reservoirs with almost unlimited potential. With this increase comes new data terms and technologies for managing and analyzing data. This digital transformation shift can result in companies generating more data than they can manage or utilize with their current infrastructure and resources if not adequately conceptualized.

Currently, we find ourselves firmly in the Zettabyte Era, a term coined back in 2016 recognizing the changeover to measuring the world’s data in terms of zettabytes. A zettabyte is a unit measurement for computing storage capacity, and it represents a whole lot of data. To provide some context, the world’s data is estimated to be just under 100 zettabytes in 2022. While in 1998, for comparison, the world’s data was estimated at just a few thousand petabytes. A zettabyte equals one million petabytes!

As digital transformation and the growth of data have become the norm, business executives must gain a broad understanding of the data landscape in order to take advantage of the business intelligence possibilities. Data management infrastructure can be complicated, and while there is no need for business leaders to become experts in data management, more knowledgeable leaders make better IT investment decisions.

Data Terms: Data Lake vs Data Warehouse vs Data Fabric

Gaining an awareness of data infrastructure terms like data lakes, data warehouses, and data fabric is a great place to start. A big picture overview of these data management technologies can only help in making more informed choices about your firm’s IT infrastructure.

What is a Data Lake?

A data lake is a centralized repository for storing enormous amounts of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. Data can be brought into a data lake from multiple and disparate data sources, validated, and optimized to improve access, connectivity, and analytics.

The main benefits of using a data lake are that it allows for cost-effective storage of large amounts of data without having to worry about the data’s format and can improve the functionality of data from multiple sources.

One pitfall of a data lake is that along with the unlimited data consolidation capabilities of the data lake, without the development of an adequate framework for enrichment and enhancement, data within a data lake is no more usable than before.

What is a Data Warehouse?

With a data warehouse data flows in from transactional systems, CRM, operational systems, and other sources, typically on a regular cadence. Business analysts, data engineers, data scientists, and decision-makers access the data through business intelligence tools and other analytics applications.

One key advantage of using a data warehouse is that it enables businesses to consolidate structured data from multiple sources into a single, centralized location to improve reporting and dashboards.

Having clearly defined and robust data governance policies is a requirement for getting the most out of a data warehouse.

What is Data Fabric?

Data fabric is a flexible data architecture that enables the integration of data from a variety of sources and cloud environments. In a sense, it knits together all the data of an organization regardless of the location or infrastructure providing a unified view of an organization’s data, making it easier for businesses to reduce data silos and better manage their data. Additionally, data fabric can help companies save money by reducing the need to duplicate data in multiple systems and providing flexible, agile, and scalable solutions for accessing and using data.

A Simplified View

Among the main differentiators among the three data structures is that data lakes can store raw data, while data warehouses only stores processed and refined data, and data fabric connects one or more of the other structures for better connectivity.

It’s About Business Intelligence

Data lakes, warehouses, and fabric are data technologies that can help businesses reduce silos and provide actionable data necessary in today’s data-driven business environment. Painting with a broad brush, they store (or can access) data in a centralized location, help businesses better understand their data, and reduce the need to duplicate data in multiple systems. Still, they have specific benefits and challenges that must be weighed against your organization’s requirements and business goals.

As with many things, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to data management and how best to gain the business intelligence (BI) needed to increase revenue, improve outcomes, and reduce the total cost of ownership.

Reach out to connect with our technical experts to discover how to optimize and utilize your data for better decision-making. Coretelligent has years of experience building and supporting customized IT infrastructure and solutions utilizing tools like Microsoft Azure, Power BI, Tableau, and other BI tools designed and built around our client’s business goals.