06Jun

Whether you’re the CIO of a Fortune 500 company or an IT manager at a small firm, all technology projects eventually land on your desk.

The bigger the project, the more of an opportunity to shine. Alas, no IT project comes fraught-free. As CIO.com puts it, “No great accomplishment in technology has come without a few false starts.” There are, however, steps you can take to reduce the stumbles and manage the risks of translating a request like, “We need to go mobile” into action.

For a little encouragement, CIO.com talked with 7 tech leaders to learn how they turned missteps into successes by failing fast and moving on. Here’s a sample:

Sarah Lahav, CEO of SysAid tells of launching a chat to simplify communicating with the tech support group. What they failed to do — this was early in the use of chatbots — was to make clear its purpose. Users thought it was just another type of chat room and were sending all sorts of peculiar messages. “We realized that with every new technology, we’ve got to be very specific in labeling it within the general product.”

Sukhi Jutla, a co-founder of MarketOrders, advises taking an iterative approach to projects, limiting the upfront focus on requirements. Taking months to decide features and requirements only delays the actual project and by the time you build in everything everyone wants, needs have changed to the point that some features are obsolete. “Aim to get a working prototype out as soon as possible to get real-world feedback from real users.”

Don’t push solutions that may be more than is needed because they are “cool,” says Vaclav Vincalek, CEO at Pacific Coast Information Systems. He once came up with a technology for a client that while cutting edge and effective “would have added cost, effort, and risks to their IT processes that just weren’t needed.” He learned to always take into account the business requirements and IT environment before proposing a solution.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Studies, Surveys Tell the Story of COVID’s Cybersecurity Risks

When the COVID-19 lockdown hit, companies worldwide transitioned millions of employees from working in offices to working at home. There were bumps to be sure, but from an IT perspective the process generally went smoothly.

What’s happened since then is enough to keep IT security professionals up at night.

“Once the transition was complete,” says an article on CSO.com, “Organizations found their attack surface had changed immensely and threat actors attempted to seize upon the opportunity. Phishing, brute-force and malware attacks surged while the number of endpoints connecting to corporate networks ballooned.”

We blogged about this subject a few weeks ago when a survey of IT leaders reported that 41% of them had experienced more security attacks than ever.

In light of the collection of surveys and studies in the CSO.com article, that now looks like an understatement.

Though the study we referenced in our post said in the early days of the lockdown companies were spending an extra $15 billion a week on IT, CSO cites a study that helps explain why: 66% of organizations had no pandemic preparedness plan in place. Others, including those that did, failed to account for the sheer scale of having every employee working remotely.

Infoblox’s COVID-19 Challenges for the Borderless Enterprise report said 38% of organizations shifted funds from cybersecurity to provide for remote worker access. 46%, however, shifted IT resources to shore up the security of their networks. Another study cited by CSO.com tells us that 60% of organizations that adopted work-from-home technology accelerated or bypassed their normal privacy/security reviews.

Consequently says CSO.com, chief information security officers “should go back and ensure that any checks that were skipped or accelerated have been redone to ensure all the risks have been accounted for.”

The article cites Zoom’s security issues as one example of a remote tool that was quickly adopted by many without considering security.

The most worrisome part of the article by CSO editor Dan Swinhoe cites a baker’s dozen of studies, surveys and reports of cyberattacks skyrocketing during the lockdown with many continuing unabated since. Here’s a sample:

  • Supply chain attacks rose 38% since the start of the pandemic;
  • Phishing incidents rose 220% at the height of the pandemic;
  • Ransomware attacks spiked more than 100%;
  • Insider-threats increased 27%;
  • RDP brute-force attacks (attempts to remotely control a computer or computer system) grew 400%.

With the majority of companies expecting more employees than ever to work from home even when the pandemic ends, a PwC Insights Survey found 96% of organizations saying they are adjusting their cybersecurity strategy due to COVID-19. 50% said cybersecurity and privacy will be baked into every business decision or plan.

“This focus on security,” observes CSO, “Should provide CISOs with more influence at the most senior levels of the business.”

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

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