Securing the Digital World

Managing Business Disruption in the Digital World

Mar 23, 2020 | by Steve Schlarman |

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum published its annual report on global risks. This report has one of the broadest lenses when it comes to assessing risk across the globe. From geopolitical and economic disruptions to biodiversity and climate change, the risks examined in this report reflect an extreme range for risk management professionals to contemplate. Today, we are seeing one of the risks identified—"Strained Health Systems”—unfold on a global scale. The effects of the current disruption are rippling across communities and impacting organizations of all sizes and industries. This has prompted many companies to test continuity planning as workers transition to working remotely.

The situation today requires us to take a step closer to the realities of the digital world. Security—crucial when workers are on-site—becomes paramount when workers are forced out of their normal routines and become remote. Many organizations already have embraced the “work anywhere” strategy, allowing employees to access company resources remotely. However, expanding remote usage can strain system resources. Beyond that, organizations also have an increased risk related to another of the global risks highlighted by the WEF: “the Wild Web.” Underscoring the magnitude of digital risk, cyber attacks ranked fifth in the short-term risk outlook of the World Economic Forum report.

The digital workforce is just one element of digital transformation. Empowering the workforce with the latest technologies is not new. As an industry, we have been on a consistent trajectory utilizing technology to allow more access to internal and external systems. But the flexibility that enables organizations to respond to crises does not come without risk.

Last year, RSA conducted a survey to dig into the risks associated with digital transformation. We saw many consistent themes:

  • Respondents see risk profiles changing as digital transformation efforts alter business operations.
  • Priorities for risk management related to digital transformation vary across regions but are top of mind for all organizations.
  • The negative consequences of digital risk are significant, ranging from reputational damage to financial performance.
  • Companies want to protect their digital investments.

While a health crisis may seem several steps away from digital risk, the current situation makes it clear the physical and digital worlds are connected more than ever. Technology makes it possible for organizations to weather the storm of remote working. Technology also enables other efforts ranging from data analysis to sharing much needed information. The digital world opens many doors. But as we discovered in our survey, it also is altering the risk profile and, in turn, shifting risk management priorities.

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