In a single generation, digital collaboration has completely changed the way we communicate and work. Ubiquitous connectivity and digitized information may be the most significant global change to take place since the transportation revolution.
In the transportation revolution, when the roads got crowded and people started having accidents, the risks of injury and damage were clear - but we didn't stop driving. Instead, society chose to enhance the conditions of the transportation system so that the benefits could be realized safely. We created controls like speed limits, traffic lights, stop signs and driver's licenses.
In short, society created the rules of the road, and citizens were required to learn and follow them. The digital revolution has reached a similar stage, where the opportunities are too great to abandon, but the casualties are mounting. Right now, our trust in the digital world is threatened. In order for individuals and organizations to continue to derive benefit from digital collaboration without harm, society must define the rules of the road for the digital world, and make sure that its citizens and organizations understand and follow them.
Danger: Steep Incline Ahead
Recent research shows that 80% of organizations store data that belongs to their customers, clients, vendors, or business partners, but only 30% describe themselves as very confident that this data is protected and only 34% were very confident that they even know where their data is stored .
It turns out that not only are organizations unsure about where their data is stored, they don't know who uses it: Only 19% of organizations report that they monitor all access activity, and 27% do not audit access activity .
Driving Without a License
Many individuals don't know how to conduct themselves safely in the digital world and the consequences can range from inconvenience or embarrassment to having your computer taken hostage, or having your identity stolen. According to Adam Levin, quoted in a story on the Huffington Post, "It is no longer a question of if your identity will be stolen -- the only unknown is when it will happen. "
Accidents Will Happen
For many, work and personal lives have unified. A recent study revealed that 86% of respondents reported that they are mobile device obsessed, or "always on. " Our personal and work data have comingled and so has the risk, as 50% have reported that someone had lost a device containing important data, and 22% said the lost device had resulted in security implications for the organization.
So what can we do to start learning the rules of the road? Here is a Top 5 list that can help both individuals and organizations begin to practice defensive driving in today's world.
1.Learn What Makes Your Engine Run - Without the ability to access and share information securely, almost every business process will be impaired. For individuals it's not much different--imagine losing control of your Gmail account.
2.Learn Your Way Around - Once we learn to recognize the value of our information, we need to know understand where it's stored and how it's shared. Information can easily be copied and replicated to many systems and formats.
3.Insist on Seatbelts, Speed Limits, and Traffic Lights - Wherever we have assets that need to be protected, we need basic controls around them - such as authentication, authorization, auditing and alerting. These controls won't stop all attacks, but they'll certainly stop most of them.
4.Beware of Off-Road Excursions - Once you've got the right controls in place for secure collaboration on your main roads, people need to stay on those roads. Unsanctioned public cloud services are an example of "off-roading" from an organizational perspective. Unfortunately, services that the organization doesn't know about or approve of are entirely outside of organizational control, and so is the information stored in them.
5. Focus on Your Destination - Extracting Value from Your Data - When information can't be shared it has little to no value. When it's available to too many people, or the wrong people, it's a liability. Information is most valuable when it's available to the right people, and only the right people.
We must create the correct conditions now so that individuals and organizations continue to trust that digital collaboration is both productive and safe. The children of the digital revolution must understand the value of information, the responsibility they have to protect it and the consequences of failing to meet these responsibilities--we have much to gain and much to lose. To reach our potential in the digital revolution, we must collectively learn and adopt good digital habits, and learn the discipline of secure collaboration.