The growing use of digital assets within a business brings many operational benefits. These technology solutions, however, also come with numerous risks and an expanded overall threat landscape. You can address these risks by investing in digital risk mitigation and remediation activities as part of a broader digital risk protection effort.
Understanding Digital Risk Protection
Digital risk protection (DRP) is simply a set of practices and methodologies to safeguard an organization’s digital infrastructure against ever-increasing digital threats. Those practices include cybersecurity, but they’re not limited to cybersecurity. Many other digital risks exist and need attention that have nothing to do with cyber attacks in the common meaning of the term.
Although security experts debate whether DRP only focuses on external threats or includes internal ones, it’s clear that digital risk protection solutions are essential for today’s security teams and their risk management processes. Digital threats, such as data breaches, should not be underestimated when potential costs can exceed $4 million per event.
What Are Digital Risks?
Digital risks are all the threats to an organization that arise from implementing technology tools or from digital transformation in general. These risks include operational, reputational, and financial harms resulting from use of a digital tool.
These risks are growing ever-more complex. They can come from a variety of sources, and sometimes are unidentifiable until they have already caused damage. That’s why digital risk protection services rely heavily on threat intelligence to identify the various types of digital risk and to protect their stakeholders from this diverse range of threats.
The most common digital risks are:
The digital environment is typically associated with cybersecurity risks. For example, vulnerabilities in software, malware or ransomware, and phishing attacks are all risks directly related to digital transformation.
For example, 2020 was a record year for cyberattacks thanks to the pandemic. Many businesses were forced into digital transformation activities to accommodate their newly remote workforce and to drive revenue opportunities. Unfortunately, the combination of uncertain times and increased online activity also boosted vulnerability. The frequency and cost of cyberattacks continues to rise today.
Data breaches (or “leakages”) are digital risks related to cyber threats that can significantly harm the company’s operational, compliance, and reputational landscape.
The theft and publication of sensitive data, either from the organization itself or from its users, can be triggered by different factors. Constant monitoring is necessary to assure an adequate level of protection for your clients’ personal information and your intellectual property.
Digital risks don’t have to be directed at the company to cause damage. Digital transformation also provides an opportunity for threat actors to conduct scams targeting a company’s customers through impersonation, website or email spoofing, or other tools that can affect the corporate brand image and reputation.
The accelerated digital transformation age can also trigger compliance risks for organizations, either due to use of new technologies that don’t meet regulatory requirements or the absence of technological solutions to comply with them.
Many organizations have implemented automation solutions within their processes to facilitate tasks and reduce operational expenses, but an abrupt digital transformation can wreak havoc on what had previously been carefully crafted business processes. In addition, new software or incompatible patches can also generate unexpected downtime in your operations on the client-side, such as web pages.
What Is a Digital Risk Protection Service (DRPS)?
A digital risk protection service (DRPS) is a programmatic managed service that augments your organization’s existing DRP efforts without having to hire an entire team. An effective DRPS allows you to scale your DRP regardless of your business size while still rapidly addressing your cybersecurity concerns.
An effective DRPS should help your organization in three key ways:
- Achieving business goals
- Protecting and enforcing the boundaries of your digital ecosystem against potential data loss
- Making all technology within your organization more accessible to more stakeholders due to the reduced need for specialized knowledge or skill, while still reducing potential insider threats
Features of a Digital Risk Protection Service
Key features to consider when selecting a DRPS include:
Digital footprint mapping
Everything your organization does with technology or connected services is a part of your digital footprint. For the best security controls and digital risk protection, a map of that digital footprint is needed. A premium DRPS will have digital footprint mapping capabilities that are simple to execute and easy to understand.
A digital footprint map also helps your organization identify potential attack vectors. Attack vectors can sometimes be found when working with various service providers in a supply chain, such as third-party vendors without a service level agreement (SLA).
New threats are developing in your digital ecosystem all the time; you need a DRPS that can prepare for data breaches or cyber attacks before they occur. Your DRPS should monitor all layers of your digital ecosystem, as well as the external digital world you engage with, including the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web.
Your DRPS will most likely not be your go-to service for risk mitigation, but it should integrate with your existing risk management infrastructure seamlessly. You want a DRPS that will support existing risk mitigation plans while also helping to improve and expand upon them.
Difference Between Threat Intelligence and Digital Risk Protection
DRP used to be classified under threat intelligence, but now it’s considered its own valuable data protection strategy. DRP supports threat intelligence efforts by expanding the focus and reach. Where threat intelligence primarily focuses on threat detection, vulnerabilities, and attack surface monitoring, DRP stretches to include monitoring brand protection, data leaks, and account takeovers.
Both DRP and threat intelligence emphasize the importance of monitoring and protecting social media channels as potential points of cyber threats or cyber attacks. The two should come with integrations to support one another in this effort.
Why Do Companies Need Digital Risk Protection?
Companies can benefit from an appropriate security posture in the face of digital risks. Moreover, digital risk protection can also be crucial to avoid fines for non-compliance, especially for the protection of customers’ personal data.
That said, DRP solutions can also provide an extra layer of protection to business continuity and critical areas of the company’s operational chain, especially those dependent on technological tools.
The internal benefits can also result in a reputational benefit, especially since people are increasingly aware of the cyber risks in everyday life. Organizations with visible efforts to protect their users might not always receive public applause, but an organization with a careless data breach will undoubtedly encounter public scorn.
Common Use Cases for Digital Risk Protection
In an effective risk management program, DRP must consider several use cases that focus on prioritizing, monitoring, and mitigating common threats in real time. Some of these use cases are:
Phishing attacks or account takeovers
The human factor is the weakest element within an ecosystem and a significant challenge in digital risk management. That is why DRP solutions focus on identifying suspicious patterns and typical phishing schemes to alert and prevent such attacks.
These tools monitor cyberspace for compromised credentials or accounts with keywords within known cybercriminal networks or domains to quickly mitigate these vulnerabilities.
There are myriad digital risks, and they will only increase with time. Prioritizing threats according to their severity and possibility of happening is crucial for digital risk protection programs.
Cyber threat prevention
Assessing vulnerabilities (for software in use, as well as for malware on devices or mobile app stores) is a routine activity that substantially reduces the organization’s digital risks. With the support of tools like penetration testing, these assessments are essential to protect organizations from new and evolving potential threats.
Dark web surveillance
Many cyberattacks arise from sites that are difficult to access, such as the dark web (erroneously known as the “deep web”). DRP tools can help to monitor suspicious activities directed against the organization and then prepare adequately against these threats.
As mentioned before, email or web spoofing can severely damage a corporate reputation. DRP focuses on the takedown of these illicit activities to protect your brand and users.
Data leak prevention
Considering the importance of intellectual property and the personal information of customers and employees, data leakage can be a tremendous liability to organizations. DRM tools evaluate the overall information security system and monitor the web for leaked data.
How Can Digital Risk Be Avoided?
These common uses of DRP solutions are practical first steps to prevent and mitigate digital risks. Still, security professionals must make a dedicated effort if they want these solutions to achieve their intended objectives.
For example, the human factor is the most significant risk vector, and must not be underestimated to effectively protect the enterprise. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools can intercept malicious emails before they reach employees, but you still need to educate your workforce with cyber security awareness programs to mitigate threats such as phishing attacks and data leaks.
Controlling third-party risks is another part of digital risk management, as they are an integral part of the organization’s digital ecosystem. So perform risk assessments of vendors to understand how your company’s risk landscape may change if you start doing business with them.
Especially with cloud solution companies, risk assessments must consider the company’s regulatory environment and the effect that third parties may have on your state of compliance or non-compliance.
Protect Your Data With ZenGRC
Managing risks and adhering to regulations can be challenging, but adopting a solid governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) solution will reduce your risk management headaches dramatically.
The ZenGRC analyzes your critical infrastructure for gaps in existing controls that might expose your business or project to risks, and then presents them on user-friendly, color-coded dashboards that show you where your vulnerabilities are and how to remedy them at a glance.
Contact us for a free demo and get started on the road to worry-free enterprise risk management.