Cloud-Native Transformation is Changing the Role of the CISO

The pandemic has forced many businesses to reconsider the pace at which they are accelerating their digital transformation journeys. Many enterprises were not prepared for the overnight change to remote working, so over the past year, they have found themselves rapidly updating their cloud-native infrastructures to ensure that they thrive in the “new normal” for their business environment. Over this time, security has become a key focus as the decentralisation of employees is naturally followed by the decentralisation of security. 

However, the businesses which have embraced and adapted to these new demands on security will have also found it to be an enabler rather than just an obstacle to innovation. This is where the evolution of the CISO becomes important. Now a key leader in the digital transformation process, the CISO must fully embrace new technologies such as easy-to-use cloud-native technologies, while revamping security practices to protect the “new normal” for IT. 

The need for speed

Digital transformation is not a new trend, but the past year has rapidly accelerated the process for businesses across all sectors of society. Broadly speaking, digital transformation involves the gradual but necessary updates to processes to create a digital-first customer experience, reduce reliance on paper and pen processes and instead make software and applications central to the running of businesses. Applications such as mobile banking and online document storage are examples of this. 

These processes served as a good foundation for the overnight changes that were required when the current pandemic first caused major facets of everyday life to move online. With increased user demand and expectations for quality of service, IT was under pressure to not just move businesses online but to do so quickly and efficiently. 

One core element of the solution to this problem is cloud-native technology. To cope with the demand and the essential need for a seamless customer experience, going cloud-native is the only option. 

Cloud native transformation

Cloud-native technologies are crucial to the digital transformation process. Cloud-native technologies can be deployed in stacks and with rapid delivery cycles which makes it possible to implement changes in days that would otherwise take months. The business impact of this is clear – rapidly adapting to customer needs will improve customer retention and growth and therefore increase revenue. 

Another benefit of using cloud-native technologies is the resilience and agility that comes with being able to operate on a microservice level. Operating applications on a microservice level means that individual microservices can be independently updated when necessary without needed to revamp the entire application. Indeed, companies with agile practices embedded in their operating models have managed the impact of the pandemic better than their peers. 

To ensure that this transformation is carried out without increasing the organisation’s exposure to risk, the CISO, and security in general needs to take on a central role. Security cannot be considered an afterthought, instead, it needs to be factored in from the very beginning and work in tandem with the development process. Just as security must be considered at all stages of the process, so must the CISO be involved throughout. The role of the CISO can no longer be siloed as a separate function, it must be central to the process of digital transformation. 

The new central role of the CISO 

The role of the CISO has been traditionally focused on reducing risk and protecting the organisation against cyber threats. Now, with digital transformation becoming a key initiative for many organisations, the CISO is relied upon to keep the business up to date on new initiatives and potential business opportunities as well. 

Security of course remains a vital element of the role, especially as new technologies come with new risks that could impact the digital transformation process. The role of the CISO needs to evolve to not only monitor security but also use security to enhance business opportunities and stay ahead of competitors. 

The first step towards this change is to break down walls between teams and encourage knowledge sharing. For security to be fully embraced into the development cycle businesses need to embrace the DevSecOps method and encourage collaboration between the security teams and the developers. The CISO is a key player in this change and will perform a vital role in ensuring that the change is implemented effectively. The result will be that security is no longer considered a hurdle at the end of the development cycle, but risks are spotted and managed throughout, speeding up the overall process. 

Successfully combining these teams and speeding up the development process is the first step towards creating a general digital transformation mindset. As a result, businesses will be much better equipped to react quickly to real-world changes, risks, and customer requirements. Further collaboration between the CISO and other departments across the business will ensure that these changes happen without increasing costs or damaging customer relations. 

Leading the pack

The past year has shown all too clearly that businesses need to be able to rapidly adapt to real-world situations, and the new role of the CISO is central to this. With a modern CISO leading a new DevSecOps team at the centre, businesses will be able to successfully embrace cloud-native technologies and digital transformation

Businesses that embrace these changes will outshine their competitors and excel in the new digital landscape.

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