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In this article, we look at seven key challenges of digital modernization, including phishing attacks, insider threats, and compliance and regulation.


The Seven Biggest Cybersecurity Challenges of Digital Modernization

Posted by Angela Davis on February 7, 2024
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Are you running an established enterprise with legacy systems that aren’t designed for the modern age of digital? From mainframes to mid-range systems, databases to applications, monolithic tech can leave you feeling stuck in the past. 

With this in mind, you may be tempted to jump into a digital transformation. However, without careful and strategic planning, your enterprise could be at risk of significant cybersecurity threats. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the seven biggest cybersecurity risks that come with digital transformation—and how to protect yourself against these.

Don’t let cybersecurity challenges hold your business back. Read on and learn how to keep your enterprise secure in the digital age. 

What is digital modernization?

Global Cybercrime damage costs

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Let's say you're running a business with an outdated mainframe—digital modernization would be the process of upgrading these legacy systems using modern technologies to stay competitive. 

These systems need to be updated because they’re often not scalable and can limit your business's growth potential. 

One way to achieve digital modernization is by adopting a microservices architecture. Microservices break down monolithic applications into smaller, more manageable services, making systems agile, scalable, and cost-effective.

Digital modernization is incredibly important in today's business landscape, where competition is fierce and customers have high expectations. By adopting the latest technologies, like microservices, you can stay ahead of the curve and deliver better products and services. 

But it's not all positive—as with any major change, there will be challenges along the way.

One of the biggest problems organizations face during digital modernization is cybersecurity risks. With more devices connected to the internet, there are more entry points for online criminals to exploit. 

This could include things like hacking into your cloud storage or stealing sensitive customer data. And these cybercrimes can cost a lot! According to a study by Cybersecurity Ventures, the cost of cyber-attacks was $6 trillion in 2021—and is expected to grow to $10.5 trillion by 2025.

So, what are the biggest cybersecurity challenges facing organizations during digital and/or cloud modernization? Let's take a closer look.

1. Phishing attacks

One of the biggest cybersecurity challenges facing businesses is phishing attacks. This is where cybercriminals send fake emails, texts, or messages to trick people into giving away their login or bank details.

For example, say your enterprise has a legacy system that’s not secure enough for modern digital needs. You’re currently going through a modernization process when you get an email that looks like it's from your IT department. They ask you to click on a link to verify your account info. 

Without thinking twice, you click the link and enter your password and username. Unfortunately, this was a phishing attack, and now the cybercriminal who sent you this email has access to your login details.

So, how can you protect yourself from these attacks and prevent this pricey mistake? Here are three tips:

  • Make sure you verify the sender's ID before clicking on any links or entering your personal information.
  • Look out for emails with spelling mistakes or other signs that they could be a scam.
  • Don't open attachments from unknown sources, even if they seem legitimate at first glance. 

2. Ransomware attacks

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Last year, the San Francisco 49ers' data was stolen and encrypted by a well-known ransomware gang called BlackByte. Over 20,000 people's personal information was affected.

Ransomware attacks can be devastating for businesses everywhere. Not only can they lead to a loss of data, which can be extremely pricey, but they can also cause reputational damage. 

To prevent and prepare for ransomware attacks, there are a few best practices you can follow.

  • Ensure your systems are up-to-date and not left vulnerable to attackers.
  • Be sure to have a plan in place (for recovering lost data, for example) in case you fall victim to this kind of attack. 
  • Speak to your employees about the dangers of ransomware attacks. Teach them what to look for and some simple tips and tricks for spotting suspicious emails.

3. Insider threats

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Ever heard of insider threats? It's essentially when someone who has access to your organization's data and systems misuses that access to cause harm. 

Insider threats can be intentional or unintentional, and they can come from your current employees, former employees, or contractors who work with your company.

This kind of threat can manifest in a few different ways. For example, an employee might steal confidential data, intentionally download malware, or sabotage critical systems. In contrast, a staff member might unintentionally cause harm by falling for a phishing scam (like we mentioned above).

There are three types of insiders you should know about. They include:

  • Malicious insiders. People who purposely harm your organization, often for money or revenge.
  • Careless insiders. Employees who accidentally cause harm because they haven't been trained proficiently or aren't aware of these scams. 
  • Compromised insiders. Insiders whose accounts have been compromised through phishing or other scams.

So. what can you do about this? Here are a few ways you can mitigate these scams:

  • Make sure employees only have access to the systems and data they need to do their jobs. 
  • Conduct thorough background checks before hiring new employees.
  • Monitor employee behavior to try and identify malicious insiders early on. 

As we mentioned earlier, it's important to make sure your staff are trained to spot and subvert these kinds of attacks.

4. Cloud security

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As businesses go over to the cloud to make their operations more modern, securing data and systems becomes even more important. Cloud security refers to the measures taken to protect information stored in the cloud from theft, leakage, or damage by cybercriminals.

One challenge is the lack of visibility into the cloud environment. It can be tough to identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities. Plus, since both the cloud provider and the customer are responsible for security, this can lead to gaps in security coverage.

To ensure cloud security, here are some strategies you can use:

  • Identify potential risks and vulnerabilities in your cloud environment.
  • Work with your cloud provider to implement security measures like access controls, encryption, and network segmentation.
  • Regularly monitor your cloud environment for unusual activity and security incidents.
  • Stay in the loop by researching the latest security threats and vulnerabilities in the cloud.

Educate your employees about cloud security best practices too, like using strong passwords and avoiding phishing scams.

5. Internet of Things (IoT) security

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The Internet of Things (IoT) are devices connected to the internet, such as smart home devices and industrial equipment. The IoT is important because it allows businesses to collect and analyze data for insights and improved decision-making.

However, IoT devices can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Some common security challenges include:

  • Devices not having strong security measures.
  • Not regularly updating the software on IoT devices.
  • Hackers exploiting weak authentication mechanisms on IoT devices.

Imagine your enterprise has smart security systems like cameras, motion sensors, and door locks, all connected to the internet. One day, you discover that your security system has been hacked and video footage from your cameras has been stolen.

This is not just a hypothetical scenario. There have been several real-world incidents of hackers accessing smart home devices and using them to spy on people or steal their information.

To keep your IoT devices secure, you can follow these best practices:

  • Change default usernames and passwords to stronger ones.
  • Update the software on IoT devices regularly.
  • Use encryption to protect sensitive data transmitted over the internet.
  • Monitor the behavior of IoT devices to detect any suspicious activity.

6. Data privacy and protection

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Data privacy and protection are crucial in today's digital landscape. They help organizations safeguard sensitive information and maintain customer trust. 

Data privacy essentially means giving people control over how their personal information and data is collected, used, and shared, while data protection means securing and safeguarding this.

Common issues with data privacy and protection include data breaches, insider threats, and compliance with regulations.

To ensure data privacy and protection, there are steps you can take. For example, you can use security measures like firewalls, encryption, and access controls. Regular employee training can also prevent potential threats like phishing attacks.

Compliance with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA is essential to protect customer data. Organizations should have policies and procedures in place to ensure compliance, such as conducting regular data protection impact assessments and providing clear privacy notices to customers.

7. Compliance and regulation

Compliance and regulation are important aspects of digital modernization. To put it simply, these are the rules and guidelines businesses must follow to ensure they’re operating both legally and ethically.

As an enterprise with outdated legacy systems, compliance and regulation should be a top priority. Modernizing your digital systems is crucial, but ensuring compliance is an integral part of the process. Failure to comply can have severe consequences, including hefty fines, legal actions, and damage to your reputation.

Some common regulatory challenges businesses face during digital modernization include understanding which regulations apply to them, keeping up with the evolving regulatory landscape, and ensuring their digital systems and processes comply.

So, what can businesses do to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards? Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Stay up-to-date with regulations and make sure your employees are aware of them too.
  • Conduct regular compliance audits and risk assessments.
  • Invest in tools and technologies that can help you achieve compliance.
  • Seek the help of legal and regulatory experts where needed.

Overcome modernization hurdles with a reliable solution

So, there you have it. Digital modernization brings about a lot of changes and new opportunities for businesses, but it also poses challenges in terms of cybersecurity. It's thus crucial to have a proactive cybersecurity strategy in place to protect your digital assets from potential threats.

At OpenLegacy, we understand the challenges businesses face with digital transformation and legacy modernization. That's why we offer a reliable solution that enables you to build, automate, and manage legacy integrations in one place for easy reuse and deployment in any cloud environment. Our solution helps you overcome the issues inherent in modernization and ensures the protection of your digital assets.

With the right cybersecurity strategy and solution in place, you too can modernize your business while keeping your digital assets safe and secure.

FAQs about the challenges of digital modernization 

What are the benefits of digital modernization?

Modernization offers many benefits for businesses that want to stay competitive in today's fast-paced digital landscape. From improving operational efficiency to enhancing customer experiences, it can help businesses achieve their goals and stay ahead of the curve. 

Here are some key benefits of digital modernization:

  • Improved operational efficiency and productivity.
  • Enhanced customer experiences and engagement.
  • Increased agility and flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions.
  • Access to real-time data insights for informed decision-making.
  • Reduced costs and streamlined processes.
  • Enhanced data security and privacy measures.

By embracing digital modernization and the benefits it offers, businesses can position themselves for long-term growth and success.

Why is modernization difficult?

Modernization can be difficult for several reasons. 

Firstly, technology is constantly developing and improving. This means it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends and updates. 

Also, legacy systems and applications are often deeply entrenched within organizations and can be difficult to replace or integrate with newer systems. 

Plus, modernizing often requires a lot of investment of time, money, and expertise. 

Finally, modernization can be risky because it can disrupt existing operations and processes, and any mistakes or missteps during it can have significant consequences for the organization.

What are the four key success factors for IT modernization?

1. Aligning IT with the business. IT modernization should support the organization's goals and strategy. The IT department should collaborate with business stakeholders to understand their requirements and objectives and develop solutions that meet those needs.

2. Simplifying and optimizing existing IT. Before embarking on modernization, it's important to streamline and optimize the existing IT infrastructure. This helps identify areas that need improving and reduces complexity, making the modernization process smoother.

3. Modernizing data and applications. This is essential for ensuring that the organization is up-to-date with the latest technologies. This can involve migrating to the cloud, adopting new software, and/or upgrading hardware.

4. Operating securely in a hybrid environment. With the increase in cloud adoption, it's crucial to ensure that your IT infrastructure is secure. You can do this by introducing security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and access controls, and also by having a plan in place.

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