by RSS Joseph Sykora  |  Sep 06, 2017  |  Filed in: Business and Technology

There are countless examples of companies and industries that failed to adapt to technological disruptions at their outset, and as a result have become obsolete. When was the last time you left your home to rent a movie? Fifteen years ago, Blockbuster was a movie rental giant. However, they did not adapt well to the demands of the digital age. Companies like Netflix created online portals and shipped movies to customers, and then moved to online streaming. By the time Blockbuster got on board with this digital shift, it was too late. Today, the traditional brick and mortar movie rental business model is nearly extinct in favor of streaming services and interconnected movie kiosks. 

This is just one small example of how technological advances have completely changed the way consumers interact with businesses. Consumers now expect a dynamic experience in which they can access and change information and services at a moment’s notice, from any location. With new tech-enabled brands and products cropping up every day, if users are not getting the experience they want from one provider they simply switch to another.

Consumer and employee expectations are driving what is being called the digital transformation. Digital transformation refers to the dramatic change in business products, services, workflows, and operations required to leverage available – and future – technology to its fullest extent in order to meet the demands of customers, streamline business operations, and respond immediately to shifting market demands. These changes aren’t optional. They are necessary to ensure that companies remain competitive. This is affecting every business, including those served by our channel partners.

Today, your clients across every vertical are building digital transformation strategies to stay competitive and avoid financial losses due to the lack of digital infrastructure. Fifty-five percent of businesses without a digital transformation plan already in place say their timeframe to adopt one is a year or less, while 85 percent of decision makers say that if they don’t make significant progress on their digital transformation process in the next two years, they will suffer financially or fall behind competitors. The reality is, companies that fail to adopt a digital business strategy are unlikely to survive in today’s market.

As organizations map out their digital transformation strategies, it’s important that they understand how these changes affect their overall technical infrastructure – especially as it pertains to security. The adoption of new, connected technology means a greatly expanded attack landscape – just at a time when threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated. It is important that security be part of all digital business planning to ensure that innovations do not come at the expense of strong data security. Because consumers can change their buying preferences with the tap of a screen, any public data breach can result in increased customer turnover just as quickly as the lack of expected digital features and services can. 

To assist our channel partners in guiding their customers through their digital transformation efforts, we’ve outlined three of the major objectives companies need to focus on, how these efforts can impact their network security, and how Fortinet can help mitigate these risks. 

1. Internet of Things (IoT) Adoption

The advantages that the Internet of Things provides to consumers and organizations through such things real-time information, customized transactions, device-to-device communications, and intelligent automation is continuing to drive its adoption at an unprecedented rate. In fact, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2017 there will be 8.4 billion connected devices in use worldwide, a number that is expected to grow to 20.4 billion by the end of 2020. IoT devices allow consumers to be more interactive with their own data and interact directly with a growing number of digital services and providers. Incorporating IoT devices, or connected web applications through smart devices is necessary for businesses to stay competitive in today’s market. Additionally, organizations will have to provide regular updates and new features to these connected devices – making continuous deployment processes integral to successful digital transformation.

However, unsecured devices, vulnerabilities in off-the-shelf IoT devices and software, and an increasing number of endpoints attempting to access your customers’ networks can overwhelm existing network and security infrastructure and create gaps in security that can lead directly to data breaches.

2. Big Data Analytics

Given the trajectory of the expected growth in connected devices, it’s clear the aggregate amount of data collected and communicated from IoT devices will be enormous. Successfully digital transformation depends on making this data actionable, using those data driven insights to customize user offerings and services and optimize business operations. Studies show that worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics are expected to grow to more than $203 billion by 2020. Using these insights, organizations can improve user experience and adjust their offerings to be better aligned with what their customers want and actually need, keeping them competitive in their market. At the same time, storing large quantities of personal and device data, or the development of new digital tools like effective data analytics algorithms will make your customers more appealing targets for cyberattacks.

3. Transitioning into The Cloud

Cloud adoption across industries will likewise continue to accelerate digital transformation. With such large amounts of data being generated and requested, the cloud’s elasticity is quickly gaining traction as the best way to meet expanding data processing needs and deliver essential services in a more cost effective way than building out internal infrastructure. The cloud is simply more efficient at processing data, responding to queries, and expanding digital resources in real time to meet spikes in demand.

In the cloud, servers are shareable and the cloud can reallocate or spin up additional servers based on usage demands in order to maintain performance expectations. This makes data more accessible and usable, and enables faster response times, but if someone manages to break through the security barrier, or compromise a connected device, they have access to critical data. In addition, storing and processing data and applications in the cloud can also hinder visibility into network activity.

Securing the Digital Transformation

Securing the distributed network brought on by digital transformation requires end-to-end protection that spans from endpoints, such as IoT devices, through the physical network, and out to the cloud – be it private, public, or hybrid. This not only means perimeter defenses, but also internal segmentation, endpoint protection, and web application firewalls.

Moreover, your customers must have a flexible security infrastructure in place that can dynamically expand and contract as the cloud responds to demands. Fortinet’s Cloud Security Solution offers scalable, segmented protection for every cloud environment. An integrated combination of physical and virtualized solutions means that as your elastic cloud infrastructure expands or shifts, your security moves with it. Segmentation allows you to logically break up your network, allowing greater visibility into lateral data movement, and driving visibility and control deep into the network to ensure that if a breach occurs, it will not affect the data stored in your customer’s cloud environment.

Fortinet’s Application Security Solution secures your customers from highly targeted application vulnerabilities using web application firewalls (WAFs). These WAFs harness both local and global threat intelligence to stop malicious code from exploiting the latest application vulnerabilities, detect bots, and stop DDoS attacks. This is a critical feature, as hacked IoT devices can be used to form botnets to carry out such things as distributed denial of service or distributed ransomware attacks.

Each of these features can also be woven into Fortinet’s integrated Security Fabric to deliver a comprehensive security framework. While isolated point products leave gaps in security and limit network visibility, a Fabric-based security architecture is designed to communicate between all deployed security devices in real-time, allowing them to dynamically share and correlate threat data and automatically respond to threats occurring anywhere across the distributed network. The Security Fabric is an architectural solution to the complex and distributed security issues arise from the digital transformation. It ensures comprehensive security protection and automation, without slowing down users who need access to their data, or development teams producing new software features. This makes the Security Fabric the ideal security solution to facilitate your customers’ digital transformation.

Final Thoughts

As your customers come to rely on digital assets to remain competitive, security cannot be an afterthought. The inherent infrastructural changes that come with digital transformation will alter and increase the attack surface of their networks. It is important that as your customers undergo these changes, such as cloud adoption, increased data collection, and IoT adoption that they assess how these developments will impact their cybersecurity strategy, and make adjustments to ensure consistent, end-to-end protection.

Let’s get a conversation going on Twitter! How are your customers factoring security into digital transformation?

 

by RSS Joseph Sykora  |  Sep 06, 2017  |  Filed in: Business and Technology