As a leader in an organization, you have a responsibility to act in its best interests. Daily decisions should be motivated by how they can improve the company, and your understanding should be that they will have a lasting impact. Think about this responsibility in the context of minimizing corporate risk and building a strong security posture to protect corporate assets.
Risk is inevitable, and it can also be difficult to control. That does not mean we can't take precautions to minimize it. We can wear seatbelts and drive the speed limit. We can store money in banks instead of hiding it under a mattress. We can protect the sensitive data in the company's possession instead of assuming that threat actors won't attempt to hack the company and try to steal it.
Part of your job is to responsibly grow the company, which includes safeguarding yourself and your partners and customers from risk. Oddly, not everyone seems to operate with both of these concepts in mind. Often, leaders think the most important thing for an organization is growth in one form or another.
I'll identify three obstacles preventing leaders from effectively building a security posture that manages risks. The goal is to avoid a cycle of security indecision that can harm an organization's growth and progress.
1. Build a Reliable Foundation for Growth — and Then Secure It
Don't get me wrong — growth is likely the ultimate goal for many organizations. It's what the shareholders and board will judge you by. But unsafe growth can be risky and unsustainable — even reckless.
If you'll forgive the analogy, scaling a company is like constructing a building. You want a solid and secure foundation before you stack floors on top of one another. Sure, the race to the sky is an exciting and satisfying process — who doesn't like to see the progress unfold in real time? However, if you do not first establish a reliable foundation, the towering structure could come crashing down when a risk becomes a reality. This might be how you feel if you have ever experienced a data breach, loss, or theft.
Committing the time, attention, and budget — all valuable resources — to security projects and initiatives that prioritize data protection is one way to reduce cyber-risks. Budgeting and resource allocation might not be the most exciting topics, but they are the necessary underpinnings that ensure the business and its customers will remain secure.
2. Construct a Security Plan, and Don't Let Indecision Be a Decision
Since 2010, we have seen the continual compromise of organizations because data protection was not prioritized. I've even seen companies cancel projects while in testing — just days away from procurement — only to be breached later.
This leads me to wonder why companies are not taking data protection seriously. We have a lot of data regarding the risk and consequences of breaches, but heeding the warnings and fighting indecision can be difficult and overwhelming. You also have to communicate warnings to the board and encourage everyone to treat protection as critical to sustaining the business.
Dragging your feet when it comes to data protection is in effect choosing to do nothing about an immediate and serious threat to the business. By not directly addressing this threat, you are choosing to subject yourself, your colleagues, your customers, and your shareholders to undue risk. It's that simple.
As a business owner, I understand the difficulty of balancing priorities and allocating resources. But some operations are so essential to the health and longevity of the business that they should never be sacrificed — security is one of them. There's a reason the term "breach epidemic" exists, and it's because companies are stuck in a cycle of refusal to do what is necessary to change outcomes.
3. Don't Be Shy About Evolving Strategy With Technology
Clarify misconceptions about data protection and how important it is to business — not just from a security standpoint but also from a growth standpoint. When I first founded my company, we were focused primarily on reducing the scope of PCI DSS compliance. More than a decade later, we've witnessed the evolution of this space and continued to evolve how we help meet the needs of the emerging digital landscape.
For example, tokenization has gone from being a novel technology designed solely to prevent the worst from happening to becoming an industry standard that can work for any business. With proper implementation, tokenization enhances critical revenue-generating operations. It can provide access to more data and more third-party integrations. It can simplify internal systems and drive digital transformation by improving flexibility and enabling what was previously impossible or impractical, especially with digital payments.
Being Decisive Is an Asset to Your Security Posture
Investing in technology to prevent breaches isn't exciting, but I believe it's more about investing to expedite growth and increase revenue — while also reducing risk and expense — and that is extremely compelling. In my role, I aim to change the conversation from "data protection is a requirement to prevent the worst" to "data protection can be a fortifying catalyst for your organization's growth." Viewed within this context, prioritizing data protection not only is the safest decision — it's the smart decision.
By bringing awareness to these issues and igniting the conversation, I hope to encourage you to prioritize data protection for your organization. Not just to defend your business but to enhance the capabilities you have to fully realize the power and value of your organizational data.In 2010, Alex Pezold founded TokenEx with a vision of creating the most secure, non-intrusive, and flexible data security solution on the market. Before founding TokenEx, Alex earned a master's degree in computer science and information security through the CyberCorps program ... View Full Bio