Digital disruption: Meet the Fourth Industrial Revolution head-on

To effectively mitigate cyber risks, organizations must ensure each new phase of technological adoption is built on a secure, vigilant, and resilient cyber framework. Read our article to learn more.

By Marc MacKinnon

It’s not your imagination. Technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and things are about to move a whole lot faster. According to the World Economic Forum, we’re on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution—an era in which increased technological accessibility is expected to lead to radical innovation, business model transformation, and completely new realities.

While this era promises a plethora of opportunities, it will inevitably have a darker side, too. With new technology comes new forms of risk. To effectively mitigate these risks—and successfully navigate intense change—Canadian businesses must be prepared.

This is no small feat. Because these technologies are advancing along an exponential curve, businesses must adapt faster than ever before—and so far, Canadian organizations are lagging behind. According to a recent Deloitte research1 , 87 percent of the country’s businesses are not fully prepared for disruption from advanced technologies and 35 percent are completely unprepared.

A large part of the problem is that many organizations have an over-inflated sense of technological readiness and few understand how fast this technological shift is actually happening. How can your business ensure it’s prepared for—and can take advantage of—this age of disruption? By understanding the risks and implementing a robust, nimble cybersecurity framework, you can successfully propel your business into the future.

Protecting and managing data

While new technologies are emerging every day, artificial intelligence (AI), networks and sensors, and robotics are three areas that have seen the most significant growth in the last couple of years. They’re already starting to dramatically alter the face of business. Today, machines can autonomously manage supplier invoices, greenhouses can care for plants based on the plants’ individual needs, and retail customers can turn to robots for shopping assistance.

But as we continue to rely on new technologies and algorithms to make everyday business and personal decisions, the opportunities for hackers expand as well. Consider, for instance, what might happen if networks or critical algorithms were compromised—or if they were designed in a biased, discriminatory, or even insecure way?

Similarly, when it comes to the internet of things (IoT) and sensors, it’s important to remember that the more things we measure, the more data we generate. This sensitive information can potentially be attacked or compromised. Recent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks prove that hackers can infiltrate anything, from smart TVs to lighting systems. In addition, the more data we collect, the more we also need to manage. If you’re using smart devices to collect employee data, for example, what happens if you uncover something you weren’t expecting—such as a search history that reveals they’re potentially struggling with alcoholism?

As you embrace more advanced and interconnected technologies—whether it’s a smart fridge in the break room or an AI telephone sales system—you’re expanding your risk exposure. As such, it’s essential to take steps to integrate cybersecurity into every layer of technology adoption by implementing a strong cyber framework.

Mitigating cyber risks

Organizations must ensure each new phase of technological adoption is built on a secure, vigilant, and resilient cyber framework. Security isn’t about protecting everything equally. Instead, it’s about focusing on your most risk-sensitive assets at the heart of your organization’s mission. Vigilance requires a recognition that cybersecurity is more than a one-time event; it requires ongoing monitoring to ensure you can continuously detect evolving threats and breaches. For its part, resilience is about putting systems into place so that your organization can minimize damage and recover swiftly when a breach inevitably occurs.

While today’s new technologies must be implemented with these three factors in mind, these same technologies can also be used to make an existing framework more secure, vigilant, and resilient. For example, by automating access management controls, you can enhance security and reduce risk by ensuring your systems are only accessible to people with certain credentials.

Similarly, using deep analytics, threat intelligence, and correlation technologies, you can develop the situational awareness required to anticipate harmful behaviour and detect any threats before they do real damage.

Moving forward—together

While adapting to this age of disruption may seem daunting from a business perspective, Canada is well-positioned to meet the challenge. Our country has all the ingredients for success—including capital, research and development, and talent—but requires the private and public sectors to work together to achieve it. Businesses can play their part by:

  • Embracing the future. These are exciting times and opportunities abound. Policy-makers and technologists must work together to fully realize the potential of these opportunities. Businesses can help by getting involved in the development of control standards and policies concerning new technologies.
  • Committing to education. Technology is changing fast, as are their risks. Organizations need to stay on top of the latest advances through ongoing education.
  • Applying new knowledge. Technological education is worth very little if it’s not applied. By asking the right questions and conducting research and testing, organizations can uncover the strengths and weaknesses of emerging technologies and use them in new and innovative ways.

By taking these steps, Canadian businesses won’t merely be mitigating the risks associated with exponential technologies. They’ll be positioning themselves for long-term growth, enhancing Canada’s stature on the global stage, and preserving the strength of the Canadian economy for generations to come. In short, they’ll be well-equipped to navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To learn more about how your organization can embrace technology and digital disruption in a pragmatic way, read our latest report, Take the lead on cyber risk.


"Age of disruption: Are Canadian firms prepared", Deloitte, 2015

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