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Embracing the Digital Supply Chain

Updated: May 20

Navigating Security in the Era of Shadow IT

The global digital transformation sweeping through organizations has fundamentally reshaped how businesses operate, innovate, and compete. At the heart of this transformation lies the digital supply chain, multiple technologies, and SaaS applications embedded in the organization’s operations daily. This “new” form of a supply chain is critical to ensuring continuous innovation. However, this rapid digitalization comes with its own set of challenges, particularly in the realm of security and risk management.

The Rise of Shadow IT

shadow IT

One of the most significant challenges posed by the digital supply chain is the exponential growth of shadow IT. Shadow IT refers to information technology (IT) systems, solutions, devices, software, applications, and services without explicit IT department approval. This phenomenon has grown exponentially due to the adoption of cloud-based applications and services. According to a Gartner report, by 2027, a staggering 75% of employees will acquire, modify, or create technology outside IT’s visibility, a sharp increase from 41% in 2022. This surge is driven by the accelerated adoption of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the expansion of digital supply chains, increased corporate presence on social media, custom application development, remote working, and internet-based customer interaction with the organization’s activity. 

Security Risk Management: A New Paradigm

Security Risk Management (SRM) leaders must rethink their operating models to address the security risks associated with this evolving landscape. Traditional approaches to security, which often view it as a barrier to innovation, must be replaced with strategies that position security as an enabler of secure digital innovation.

  • Reskilling and Recruitment: SRM leaders must invest in reskilling their teams and hiring new talent with profiles tailored to address the complexities of the digital supply chain. This process involves retaining existing talent to understand the risks involved in new technologies and recruiting individuals with expertise in areas such as SaaS security, cybersecurity for social media, and secure application development.

  • Changing the Narrative: The perception of the cybersecurity function within organizations must evolve. Executives, team leaders, and developers should not think about security as an obstacle to innovation but as a crucial partner in the digital transformation journey. This narrative change requires an organizational shift to emphasize the importance of secure practices in fostering innovation.

  • Securing GenAI and Its Impact: The increased adoption of GenAI applications such as ChatGPT and Bard forces organizations to secure these technologies, as their adoption can be a Double-edged sword if not appropriately managed. SRM leaders must ensure that GenAI tools are integrated securely into their operations and that their impacts on cybersecurity are thoroughly understood and managed.

Here are a few Actionable Recommendations

Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) play a pivotal role in navigating the challenges posed by the digital supply chain and shadow IT.

  1. Implement Robust Governance Frameworks: Establish governance frameworks that provide clear guidelines for using shadow IT and ensure all technology acquisitions and developments align with organizational security policies.

  2. Enhance Visibility and Control: Invest in tools and technologies that enhance visibility into the physical and digital supply chain. This capability includes deploying solutions that monitor and manage shadow IT and implementing advanced threat detection systems.

  3. Foster Collaboration: Encourage collaboration between IT, security teams, and business units to ensure that security considerations integrate with developing and deploying new technologies. Regularly conduct cross-functional workshops and training sessions to promote a security-first mindset.

  4. Adopt Zero Trust Architecture: Implement a Zero Trust security model, which assumes that threats can be present inside and outside the network. This approach requires strict verification for every user and device attempting to access resources within the organization.

  5. Regularly Update Security Protocols: Ensure an ongoing review and update of security protocols (you can start with an annual protocol review program) to address new threats and vulnerabilities associated with cybersecurity threats. This type of program includes conducting frequent security audits and vulnerability assessments.

  6. Educate and Empower Employees: Provide continuous education and training for employees on the risks associated with shadow IT and the importance of adhering to security policies. Empower employees to be proactive in identifying and mitigating security risks.

Digital supply chain exponential integration with modern business operations brings both innovation and challenges, particularly in cybersecurity. One significant challenge is the rise of shadow IT, with Gartner predicting that by 2027, 75% of employees will acquire or create technology outside IT’s visibility.

Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) programs are crucial in this new business landscape. Ongoing cybersecurity programs and processes that adapt to business requirements and market changes will ensure a robust security environment alongside technological advancements. Unlike static security protocols, CTEM involves regular assessment, monitoring, and updating security practices to address new threats and vulnerabilities. The importance of CTEM lies in its dynamic nature, allowing organizations to respond swiftly to emerging threats and adjust their security posture in real time. This proactive approach helps maintain business continuity, protects sensitive data, and supports secure innovation. By implementing CTEM, organizations can better manage the risks associated with the digital supply chain and shadow IT, ensuring that security remains a crucial enabler of business growth and competitiveness.

How many SaaS applications have been installed in your organization without undergoing review by the IT security team?

  • 0

  • 1-10

  • 11-20

  • 20+

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