Cyber crime makes business like a military operation - Business Works
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Cyber crime makes business like a military operation

Simon Smith, Chief Technology Officer, MooD International Cyberspace is the battleground of the twenty-first century says Simon Smith, Chief Technology Officer at MooD International. Not just in the conventional sense, with one nation pitted against the other, but between various state actors, security agencies, hackivists, business and Internet trolls. All are playing their parts in this new digital war.

The cyber threat is rarely out of the news. Indeed, the danger of a cyber attack to the UK is so serious that it is discussed as though it is a higher threat than a nuclear attack. And concerns over the next financial scandal arenít just about bankerís bonuses or the housing bubble, but the unknown shock a cyber attack could have on our banks.

We have been working with Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the MODís research and development organisation, in one very specific area of cyber threat Ė the application of cyber security scenarios and thinking within the context of real world (military) operations. Developing the technology and monitoring systems to enable military personnel on the ground and elsewhere to observe ongoing operations and take a view on the best outcomes and available courses of action. The tools we have developed allow military commanders to analyse all threats and then to make informed and intelligent decisions when supplied with real time knowledge of a security breach.

Yet this software and the ideas and thinking can just as easily be applied to a business environment. Like the MOD, global businesses can also no longer rely on strict command and control structures. Instead they need to be able to make swift interventions to minimise potential future damage and to maximise outcomes that can be achieved in return for operating at a certain level of risk.

three main parallels between business and a military operation

There are three main parallels between a business operation in the face of cyber attack and running a military operation.

Relationships need to be managed and approached in the right way, with a common understanding of the outcomes. Both businesses and the military now have to manage a range of stakeholders across various locations, often working with organisations and individuals many miles away in different time zones and from different cultural backgrounds. Maintaining diverse stakeholder interest and buy in is key to success.

Businesses are always part of an on going transformation as they seek to expand, win new clients, or break into new markets. Just as cyber threats are constantly evolving, businesses are dynamic and, as change happens, this alters how a business behaves. Therefore you are part of a programme of change. Often this isnít under your control and what you anticipated or expected to happen does not. To successfully navigate this transformation requires you to look back, learn from and understand why what you anticipated did not happen; and to look forward to anticipate how different courses of action may look in a week, months or even a yearís time.

regularly assess your situation to decide on the most suitable action to achieve the best possible outcome

This requires a balance between what risks you accept for what outcomes you want to achieve. Is it worth accepting greater risk for less certain, but greater outcomes? Or less risk for more assured outcomes? How much can the business sustain? Imagine, having to decide on whether to redirect resources to discover more about and emerging conflict, at the risk of leaving mines in the ground on a heavily used route? There isnít necessarily a right answer. Likewise, in business you need to regularly assess your situation to decide on the most suitable action to achieve the best possible outcome.

Running a business is just like running a military operation. It requires measuring hard data with judgement; using your understanding of what has gone before, what is happening in the present and what you want to happen in the future.

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