Moving Data Security to the Centre of the Business

by Jon Collins, Senior Technology Consultant at Inter Orbis

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to speak to Clément Cazelot at Intralinks, about the role of data security in the digital world. As I ruminate on our discussion, I can’t help wondering how the message would be received. After all, it’s not as if we haven’t spoken about data security before.

Some of the topics may seem familiar — the fact that a company’s electronic boundaries are no longer impenetrable (if they ever were), for example. The Jericho Forum was set up in 2004 to promote the idea of de-perimeterisation; the organisation folded in 2013 when it was clear this had become the norm.

And as for data being a strategic business asset, well, that takes me back to a meal of senior security people I attended a good few years ago. All agreed with the premise, if only the business felt the same.

Or what about the fact that security doesn’t have to be seen as an unwelcome cost, but as a ‘business enabler’? This counterpoint to security’s frequent struggle for funds has been around ever since I was an IT manager, as far as I know, and probably longer.

So, what gives? Are we destined to trot out the same messages for the next few decades, as part of a continued attempt to squeeze paltry security funding out of a disinterested budgetary stone? While this may be true, bigger events are afoot.

Over a mere handful of years, technology’s role has morphed. Even as the Jericho Forum was staking its claim, Nicholas Carr was presenting the popular fiction that IT had commoditised and could no longer be the basis of competitive advantage.

Of the former, he may have been right: tech has become an intrinsic element of our post-millennial existence. Even electric toothbrushes contain tiny processors, simply because they are the cheapest option.

But, the latter point. IT is not only a source of business advantage; rather, it has become the primary source, driving innovation and engagement across every industry. While the term ‘digital transformation’ may lack definition, business leaders around the world are changing their strategies accordingly.

It is this change of emphasis that trumps all previous statements about the role of security. If data really is the new oil, its protection becomes paramount. In the digitally enabled business, security cannot be considered as a bolt-on. It is an inherent part of business success.

So yes, sure, let’s keep talking about where security fits, about how to encrypt data and architect systems to minimise technical, and therefore business risk. But let’s also recognise that if data is moving to the centre of business strategy and execution, then so must its security.

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