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Ongoing Cyber Attacks Require Focused Attention and Proactive Thinking

Thursday, June 1, 2017
EAST GREENWICH, RI—The recent rise in hacking and ongoing cyber attacks will require organizations to revisit their assumptions about data security business risk, according to The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC).

Hacking Hits Brands as Well as Data

Gone are the days when security breaches could be kept quiet and contained,  according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates, and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters. Today, it's often the hackers themselves who let the world know consumers' data has been compromised.

"When this happens, the damage goes beyond the data exposed. The organization's brand is at risk—can consumers count on this brand in the future to maintain the security of their sensitive information?" she said.  "There's also concern that an organization may be hiding what happened, not letting customers know what's been compromised."

Having a crisis communication plan prepared is key. "It's no longer a matter of if something might happen, it's now when an event will occur. Maintaining an open communication channel with customers and other key constituents is critical to rebuilding trust and riding out the storm," according to Popky.

Outsource to the Experts

Manufacturing operations strategist Rebecca Morgan, president of Fulcrum ConsultingWorks, Inc, states that "future manufacturing operations success relies heavily on internet-based data communication, analytics, and storage. Awareness of both that fact and the commonality of hacking, denial of service, and other cyber-attacks makes an integrated data security and operational strategy mandatory.

"Clearly more than simply operational data is at risk, and the cyber strategy must consider protection of all data," she added. "Few mid-sized manufacturers (less than $1billion USD) have, or even should have, the technical capabilities to ensure data security on top of network, application, and other critical IT-based challenges. Those companies, as well as small manufacturers should outsource data security management to highly qualified organizations. They should also strategically define how IoT and increased data reliance will be used to increase product, business, and operational capabilities."

Streamline and Simplify

According to Praveen Puri, expert in strategic simplicity and president of Puri Consulting LLC, "the biggest step business leaders should take to address hacking/cyber-attacks is to insist that IT follows a strategy of simplification.

"Corporate IT departments tend to have a complex mix of redundant technologies from different eras, as well as overly-complex user interfaces and infrastructure.  Software tends to have been written over a period of years, by different programmers," he said.

"IT departments need to take the time to streamline and simplify hardware and software, so that they can provide the same functionality/value in a much more straightforward and minimal way.  Simple and minimal technology systems are much easier to secure, and are much less vulnerable to undocumented hacks."

Under Cyber Siege - A Problem for Business

Dr. Maynard Brusman, a consulting psychologist, executive coach, and emotional intelligence/mindful leadership expert, notes that in the past cyber security was easier. "Corporate information assets were safely behind a firewall, secure within a data center. Companies had a set of access controls, and didn't consider the corporate brand to be a target for hackers. Leaders focused on how to grow the business, and protecting data was a reactive process."

According to Dr. Brusman, "The business world has now reached a state of cyber siege, with data breaches dominating news headlines. Companies are struggling to protect critical information assets as their networks are hit by a constant barrage of attacks."

Dr. Brusman advises clients, "to combat cyber attacks, prudent company leaders need to shift from a perimeter-based mindset to an IT security strategy that focuses on multiple layers of defense, analytics and incident response."

Small Businesses May Have More to Lose

"Cybercrime is a huge business for criminals, far surpassing bank robberies in the old days," points out Lisa Anderson, The Manufacturing Business TransformerSM and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., Claremont, CA.  "As business leaders, we must get up-to-speed on cybercrime so that we can take action to avoid and/or minimize impact if we want to stay in business.

"The statistics are truly horrifying. Start by sharing these with your executive team.  No business is immune, and the statistics show that although large businesses lose large sums of money, small businesses are especially vulnerable and typically close their doors within six months of being attacked," she said. "Not only must you get top-notch I.T. resources and suppliers, but you also must train your employees for what to look for and how to handle cyber attacks.  Last but not least, culture plays a big role.  If your employees don't question suspicious emails, you might just be closing your doors." 

A Move Back to Hard Copies?

"There is a tendency to try to engage in multiple levels of security and far more investment, which is often short-lived protection because of the increasing sophistication of the attacks," said SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD.  "It may be time to keep less information about customers and to quickly discard sensitive information or keep it in a different form. No one ever hacked hard copy records."

 
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