Yuvraj Bhardwaj, the Chief Executive Officer of Petonic Infotech is a 21-year-old researcher, entrepreneur, and inventor who has completed 36 research projects, filed 18 patent applications, and launched a number of innovative and ground-breaking products in India and around the world. He has 7 years of corporate experience and currently runs a group of companies in a variety of fields, including ‘Research and Consulting.
Consulting is a business that carries the highest fiduciary responsibility. It involves a very high amount of trust, as the relationship between the consultant and the client is one of a trustee and a beneficiary. As a service, the way consulting has shaped up over the years is a case study in itself. While the real recognition of consulting as a quintessential business service was first limited to bigger businesses who could afford the tab of the Big 4, today many mid and small-sized consulting firms have flourished throughout the world. Specialisation within consulting services provided takes it to a different league.
Nature of the job
From improving organisational effectiveness to providing solutions to problems, consulting involves a gamut of activities revolving around application of thought by collecting the required information that can help in achieving the desired objective for all stakeholders. If you look at the sequence of activities involved, for an effective consulting business to create a win-win situation for both sides the key factor is processing of information. This is where the paradigm has changed over the years.
Advancement of tools
The advent and progress of automation in data processing has not only increased the effectiveness of solutions that consultants provide but has also exponentially improved the ability of providing solutions to most complex situations or problems. That has made consulting a sphere which goes beyond merely giving advice.
A higher risk quotient
The everchanging cycle of technology which has consistently gone up to the next level has also brought with it many risks as well. Today businesses face a problem of plenty as far as availability of information is concerned. The challenge for consulting firms is to process that huge load of information, sifting through it to get the most relevant parts and craft solutions for clients that can achieve the state objective.
Today where technology has swept across every aspect of life and digitisation has become a norm rather than an exception, businesses are increasingly exposed to the threat of information pilferage or loss or theft; whatever you can call it. Hence the larger challenge for consulting firms today, is to safeguard the information that they are privy to while delivering solutions to clients. Even a small breach leading to leakage of information in the wrong hands can ruin a business totally. This is exactly where cybersecurity comes into play.
According to some reports the average cost of data breach in 2020 was a mind blowing $3.86 million globally. In the US alone this number stood at a humungous $8.64 million. Apart from investigating and responding to the breach, these costs also included the value of lost revenue and more critically, the damage to the reputation of the businesses.
From personally identifiable information (PII) including names, addresses, national identification numbers (e.g., Social Security numbers in the U.S., Adhaar card numbers in India), credit card information theft by cybercriminals can be far more intimidating than one can think of. Compromised PII often leads to a loss of customer trust, regulatory fines, and even legal action in many countries. But when it comes to consulting firms, the damage is simply unthinkable. Information critical to businesses can bring down the entire set up of a client than just damage reputation or lead to loss of revenue. This is exactly where the Cybersecurity becomes the most important aspect for consulting firms.
In general terms what is called the practice of protecting critical systems and sensitive information from digital attacks is in fact, the most important tool today for consulting firms. It is important to design cybersecurity measures in way that can combat threats against networked systems and applications, whether those threats originate from inside or outside of an organization.
The complexity, created by incongruent technologies and a lack of in-house expertise, can be more damaging for consulting firms. What organisations in this domain need is a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, governed by best practices and automated use of advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. This is the only way to fight cyberthreats more effectively and reduce the lifecycle and impact of breaches when they occur.
The must have’s
Cybersecurity has today moved beyond critical infrastructure security, network security and application security. With increased dependency on cloud computing and data storage, cloud security has become one of the most important. This needs to be achieved through adequate measures of ensuring cloud security in general and information security in particular. End user education in these matters along with adequate disaster recovery mechanisms can fortify cybersecurity a step further.
Keep this in mind
While building robust cybersecurity systems, it is important to stay away from myths associated with it. Cybercriminals are not always outsiders. There is every possibility that breach may happen from within an organisation by people with a malicious intent. Another significant and important point to remember is that not all risks are known. With a continually evolving cyberworld and technological advancement, newer risks will keep on emerging every now and then. And last but not the least, no industry is safe. The consulting industry is as much exposed and vulnerable to cyberattacks as any other industry can be.
Cybercriminals are always on the prowl and the stakes are typically high in consulting. One small breach of information can lead to a huge damage, whether monetary or otherwise. With a seamlessly interconnected world that we live in today, systems, users and data all live and operate in different environments. As they say, perimeter-based security is no longer adequate. A zero trust strategy is the only way to be sure you have an uncompromised cybersecurity system in place.