For a business, assets are anything that can be marketed and sold, while liabilities are debts that must be paid. The sooner organizations understand the potential of company assets turning into liabilities, proactive action can be taken to protect the business. Board members, owners, CEOs, investors, and CFOs need to heed this call to action. Ntirety CEO Emil Sayegh discusses the importance of recognizing these dangers in this piece, originally published in Forbes,Cyberthreats Are Turning Assets Into Liabilities.
Cyberthreats Are Turning Assets Into Liabilities
In the world of business technologies, the prevailing pace of evolution is directly aligned with increased technology investments, yet security incident headlines reinforce how for a good chunk of that history, security was nearly an afterthought. Protecting the organization’s information assets was seen as something for IT to do while it focused on ensuring applications and storage were up and available. Well, cybercriminals apparently didn’t get the memo about whose job it was to protect data; they kept busy looking for ways into the network, stealing data, and holding hostage everything from (very) private pictures to financial records. Earlier this year, conference software provider Zoom found themselves in a position of misplaced trust and paid a hefty price to the tune of $85 million, following their repeated crashes in 2020.
IT Assets and Liabilities
Every organization has information technology assets on one side of the ledger and liabilities on the other side. In the simplest context, IT assets are properties of an organization that includes software and hardware. Users outside and inside the organization get value out of these assets and rely on their integrity and availability. The right technology, when used properly, is an enabler of business growth and profitability. Gaps in diligence and cybersecurity planning, however, can make these assets leap from one side of the ledger to the other into liabilities. The offenses can include gaps in training, ongoing support, upgrade planning, cybersecurity programs, user training, and more. Liabilities are the weak points throughout the chain that affect the value of the asset to the business.
Over the course of the global pandemic, Zoom became a household name – exploding in use by schools, students, businesses, and more. Due to lockdown restrictions, this tool filled a significant need, making things such as classrooms, weddings, memorial services, court proceedings, and fitness classes a new virtual possibility.
The enormous spike in users increased attention on the program’s security and privacy flaws. Eventually, a class action lawsuit came along, alleging that Zoom violated users’ privacy rights. Zoom agreed to pay $85 million to settle the case. The allegations included sharing personal data with Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn, while allowing “Zoom-bombing,” the practice of hackers disrupting meetings with inappropriate language, pornography, and other disturbing content.
Crossing the Line into Liability
Executives are now on notice that they need to treat cybersecurity as a business risk. They need to know more than just how susceptible their organization is to attack. They also need to understand what is at risk, including its assets, and they must recognize when they become liabilities. That’s not always straightforward since companies often use the same technology for both corporate and personal tasks. A recent survey by research firm Gartner found that 29% of employees in organizations with end-user devices allowed workers to connect their own personally owned devices (including laptops, tablets and smartphones) to the network – with less than half of them restricting access solely to business or work purposes.
A comprehensive approach to cybersecurity should include monitoring software updates across the entire business, not just for IT systems but every aspect of the commercial software supply chain, from development through deployment onto production networks.
Protecting software assets and products of an organization requires a comprehensive security approach. This includes building a plan upon the components of a proactive security foundation and practices which start with four steps that can create a more secure cyber infrastructure:
Identify threats through an audit
Secure your application environments through a ground up security solution including Secure DevOps and Zero Trust
Set up a recovery mechanism in case of a hack
Build an assurance program that enables future compliance and resilience
Clients of Zoom and other similar software services must recognize the inherent risk contained in the practices of the service they choose to implement. Organizations can satisfy regulatory requirements for preventing or minimizing data breaches while also mitigating their vulnerability footprint through proper implementation of security measures for software.
In addition, security teams have to start working with business units across the enterprise on how they manage vendor relationships. In order for InfoSec experts to do their job properly, they need to scrutinize all third-party components that are introduced into systems – whether that’s commercial off-the-shelf software or any type of service that gets connected.
Check out this piece, originally published in Forbes, hereand follow me on LinkedIn.