By Jeremy Wubs, Senior Vice President, Product, Marketing and Professional Services for Bell Business Markets

Staying protected and compliant in an evolving IT landscape

It’s remarkable how much Canadian businesses have changed over the last few years, and how quickly that change has happened. In my conversations with business leaders across the country, we’ve talked a lot about hybrid work and how many organizations have moved key data and applications into the cloud or virtualized parts of their network infrastructure to accommodate for this shift. Meanwhile, across the country, billions of Internet-connected sensors and devices are helping give companies unprecedented visibility and control over their operations.

We all agree that these changes have unlocked new levels of business agility and have promoted innovation. However, we can’t ignore that they have also heightened the need for robust protection and compliance.

The pressures of protection and compliance

It’s not surprising that cloud and IoT technologies have expanded the attack surface. Every additional sensor, application and device is another point on the boundary of an IT system or environment where malware and cyber attackers can enter the network, potentially harming productivity, brand reputation and the bottom line. In fact, in 2021, one in three Canadian organizations suffered a data breach, and enterprise ransomware payouts exceeded $100,000.1

Additionally, companies must comply with evolving national and international regulations and industry standards (e.g., PCI, PIPEDA and others), which requires updating approaches and certifications to maintain compliance.

Staying protected and compliant is increasingly challenging in today’s complex IT landscape. So, what can we do? I believe that it starts with understanding where the challenges lie.

Staying secure in a cloud-centric world

With the promise of scalability, flexibility and cost-efficiency – values of even greater importance with the move to a hybrid world – cloud services are increasingly vital to business. In fact, 80% of Canadian organizations are shifting to cloud-based infrastructure and applications.2

However, moving data and workloads to the cloud can increase risk. Businesses need to protect the devices and connections people use outside the office as well as those they use on premises. Cloud misconfiguration, named by 68% of enterprises as their biggest security concern,2 can imperil the traffic, data and features of the cloud experience. With 81% of organizations using more than one cloud, the chance for human error is even greater.3

Businesses need a robust security strategy and solutions to protect data in storage and in transit, and the right expertise to avoid leaving parts of their environments vulnerable.

Contending with IoT endpoints

IoT technologies are key drivers of business agility and innovation. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, every sensor and device deployed is another endpoint attackers can potentially exploit.

Data transmissions are at risk of interception, while devices are subject to becoming botnets used to launch attacks, steal data, crash servers and distribute malware. Like many business leaders I have spoken with, I also worry about the very worst cases involving vast exposures of private customer information, leading to serious reputational and financial harms. But even non-sensitive data can have a considerable impact on service delivery and quality, especially if systems are taken offline.

These threats underscore the importance of sourcing IoT devices, sensors and applications from trusted providers – and running solutions over a secure, reliable network.

How to stay protected

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to security. A solid defence requires a comprehensive strategy that reflects today’s realities and your specific needs. That strategy should touch on three key areas: people, process and technology.

  • People: Ensure comprehensive employee training on cybersecurity best practices, including how to identify phishing attempts and malicious ads. Insist on multi-factor authentication and other security measures.
  • Process: Use zero-trust principles to give users access only to the network areas their roles require. This will help prevent data leaks and intrusions.
  • Technology: Deploy the most appropriate and secure network technology for your use cases and requirements. Using multiple networks can also enhance security by providing the option to isolate sensitive corporate data.

A key component of the success of any security strategy is a clear understanding of responsibilities for securing cloud-based data and applications. Most cloud providers adhere to the “shared responsibility model.” Within it, cloud providers manage the underlying infrastructure, offering protection and security, while key factors like password management, endpoint device protection and access management tend to fall to the cloud subscriber.

How to stay compliant

Compliance frameworks aim to create safe and secure IT environments. However, many undergo frequent changes and updates, which can make it challenging to stay compliant with the many regulations and standards that apply to your business.

Some enterprises have dedicated compliance departments tasked with staying abreast of relevant regulations and standards. This kind of intelligence – found externally or in-house – is essential to implementing the policy, procedural and technology updates required to ensure compliance with data privacy laws.

For cloud deployments, there are tools that can check your compliance against frameworks and standards, highlighting compliance gaps and informing your overall security posture.

Partnering for protection and compliance

One thing I’ve learned from collaborating with many of the largest businesses across Canada is that there is no such thing as a flawless defence. You can defend against and prepare for what’s known, but a “black swan” or a new type of cyber threat is always a risk. And even dedicated compliance departments can find it hard to match the pace of regulatory change.

At Bell, we understand the pressure you’re under and the challenges you face. We’re committed to helping you meet them head on. As Canada’s largest network, we have a unique vantage point over the Canadian threat landscape and leverage this insight in every solution we discuss and build for our clients.

I’m so proud of our highly skilled and certified team of security professionals, our robust portfolio of security solutions, and our best-in-class partnerships with the world’s leading security providers. When we combine this with our expertise in network infrastructure, IoT and Cloud, I truly believe we have what it takes to deliver the tailored, integrated and secure solutions your business needs.

With Bell, you are supported by a team you can trust.

Sources :
1. IDC ITA survey, 2021, n=314.
2. Cybersecurity-insiders.com. Cloud Security Report, 2022.
3. Gartner. Why organizations choose a multicloud strategy, May 2019.

Learn more from your Bell representative.