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The cloud is almost irresistible. Modern business operations are rapidly moving towards technology dependent infrastructures where agility is at the core of the strategy. Forrester Research recently predicted that the cloud market will reach $191 billion by 2020. Early adoption of new enabling technologies can be an important manoeuvre to outflank your competitors and get ahead of the curve, but it’s not a race. You need to implement a cloud based IT strategy now – that’s a given – but with more haste and less speed.

Why?

Because like everything else in the IT world there will be risks, and in this case, cybersecurity risks. The UK government reports that 90% of large businesses, and 74% of small businesses, incurred a security breach in 2015. This statistic is largely representative of the fact that enterprises have behemoth IT systems that are slow to respond to cyberattacks, whilst smaller businesses who began life in the cloud are able to move fast and adapt to change.

It’s here where we need to focus, and ultimately change. Large static IT systems that operate disparately within your organisation are unfortunately not going to last in the evolving, hyperconnected world. Although businesses have their reservations about the cloud, it’s a fundamental component of IT business strategies across the nation, improving employee productivity and operational agility. The importance it plays in modern business can’t be ignored, and what’s more, the security risks can be mitigated.

Rethink the relationship between IT and security
Traditionally, attempts at defending cyber security breaches means firewalls. ‘The more the better.’ However this doesn’t protect your data, it merely builds a wall to stop malicious malware from infiltrating the cyberspace. What if that data itself was protected? It’s no lie that in public virtual spaces such as the cloud, your information and IT frailties will be in a more vulnerable position to security threats. Yet with the right deployment and adequate security awareness training, your company data is in a markedly better situation in an open and remote environment that it would be stored on a stagnant server.

Limit access and sharing abilities
81% of companies reported that a majority of their IT security attacks involved members of staff. One in 14 IT workers admit to bypassing data security policies when they felt it was okay to do so. But whether these breaches are inadvertent or deliberate, it’s a major concern that requires strategic data protection measures put in place. One way to do this involves implementing two-way authentication requirements between the cloud and the user to mitigate the risk of a breach.

Cisco state that the main hurdle for senior IT management is to empower their people to maintain a high working performance in the mobile and agile state. This means devising IT security strategies that enable, rather than constrain. In doing so, IT departments will see a shift in attitude towards security policies and treat them with more due diligence.

Visibility gives tighter IT security
As cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated in their digital invasions, and the number of platforms to target has grown exponentially in the digital era – social media, mobile, big data – IT managers must have a 360 degree view of not just their own department, but the entire business. Moving away from a siloed endeavour, IT should be at the epicentre of a business’ core operations. The cloud enables accessibility, from any location on any device. New thinking around the management of cyber attacks focuses on simplicity, where the open cloud environment allows for easy and early detection of security threats. The fluidity and change ready benefits of the cloud also ensure IT managers can take action quickly with minimal disruption.

The cloud provides the platform to pull off this balancing act, however the approach should be security first, agility second. The most effective way of preventing cyber attacks is to operate on an agile basis with flexibility at the core, but the foundations for IT security need to be established.

For more on the legislative measures that could threaten your business, the full scale of the problems facing modern businesses and how you can begin addressing your specific data risks, download our Data Protection Executive Brief HERE

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