Without the Cloud, businesses can't thrive in today’s economy. The proof is everywhere. The Cloud has helped companies, large or small, become much faster, cheaper, better, and smarter than before.
Companies don't have a choice about adopting the Cloud. Customers have made that decision for them. Customers demand speed, efficiency, low cost, and excellent experience. The Cloud facilitates this. Companies that are flexible and make customers' lives easier win; companies that don't, unfortunately, get "blockbustered."
Without the Cloud, companies can't create innovative business models to penetrate and capture a market from entrenched players. The Cloud is democratic. It allows anyone, anywhere, anytime to target and capture someone's market presence. Besides death and taxes being certain, you can add that someone right now somewhere out there is tirelessly working to disrupt your business with an innovative business model. Today CEOs are no longer paranoid; they are hyper-paranoid.
Without the Cloud, companies can't make money. Companies have to make big investments to leverage the Cloud for both growth and scale. Not a day goes by without you hearing about an upstart becoming a unicorn (achieving a billion-dollar market valuation). The Cloud has created enormous wealth. But the days of “free cash flow” are over.
Cloud Taketh Away
The Cloud allows companies to be on offense in capturing and increasing their market share. But they also have to be very good at playing defense. They have to be competent in defending their cloud environment from cyber attacks.
Just as companies use the Cloud to make money, cybercriminals are also using the Cloud to make money. The cybercriminals know where the money resides.
Cybercriminals are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in your cloud environment. They know that all they need to do is find one vulnerability, and they hit the jackpot.
To protect your business, you can do one of two things: Obtain a costly cyber insurance policy to pay off cybercriminals when they hold your business hostage. Or, you can invest in cyber security by proactively identifying potential vulnerabilities as you keep adding new applications, servers, devices, etc., to your cloud environment necessitated by the growth of your business.
You will have to invest in cybersecurity to protect against cyber attacks. Or you will have no alternative but to pay a hefty ransom and stay quiet, so no one knows how vulnerable your cloud environment is to cybercriminals. Companies have to pay a "cloud tax." The only thing you can control is how much you can reduce this tax.
Reducing Your "Cloud Tax"
You can only reduce your "cloud tax" by using technology. One of the technologies companies are using to proactively identify vulnerabilities in their cloud environment is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
According to Dr. Umesh Hodeghatta, Head of Cybersecurity and AI Solutions at BusinessAnalyticsR, whose company recently implemented an AI/ML based cyber security solution for Walmart, "Exploitation of vulnerabilities can be predicted much more efficiently using AI and ML to protect your cloud environment. Doing this manually is not only time-consuming and laborious, but it's error-prone and ineffective in thwarting cybercriminals. Furthermore, cybercriminals have access to the same technologies, so you must be better, smarter, faster in finding vulnerabilities than they are."
Companies do have competency in AI and ML, but it is directed toward growing and scaling their businesses, not protecting their cloud environment. Companies simply don't have the expertise in multiple technologies necessary to protect their cloud environment, such as data, AI & ML, and cyber/information security.
Another challenge companies face is that it is difficult to find cyber security experts. According to Bloomberg Radio, there are close to 500,000 open positions in the area of cyber security. So unless you have a large budget, it will be very hard to find the talent you can afford to build out your defense against cyber attacks.
What to Do?
Cyber security is still viewed by many companies as a cost center. However, it needs to be viewed as a business continuity center. For example, suppose your cloud environment's security is breached. You will not only lose money by paying cybercriminals, but, worse, it will tarnish your reputation with customers, partners and investors. That is much more costly than the ransom you have to pay. Ransom payment may be in millions, but shareholder losses can be in tens of billions.
If successful, cybercriminals will not only have breached a vulnerability in your cloud environment but exposed your corporate culture of not taking cyber security seriously. You will be made to look foolish and butt of jokes on late night comedy shows. The question you will be left asking as a CEO and CISO is: "Did we do everything possible to protect our cloud environment?" Unfortunately, that question needs to be asked right now and every day moving forward. You have no choice. It's too late to ask this question after the breach.
Today, a CEO and a CISO’s job security depend on their success in staying ahead of the cybercriminals. The best way to stay ahead of cybercriminals is to gain a competitive edge using AI and ML methods to not only ensure business continuity, but keep winning by capturing and growing markets. To be a business champion, companies have to be great on both offense and defense.
If you want to learn more about using AI & ML methods for cyber security, watch this webinar by Dr. Umesh Hodeghatta:
If you want to learn how to secure your cloud environment using AI & ML methods in retail, please register for the free BrightTALK event scheduled on September 15th:
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