Hatem Hariri, CNS: “as a business, you are obligated to ensure data safety“

 

Cybersecurity was once the darling of the IT industry but has since lost impetus in favor of more exciting new trends and innovations, like augmented reality or robotic process automation. Yet, it still plays a critical role in the proper functioning of a company’s internal systems.

We’ve seen many cases where businesses suffer from data breaches that damage an enterprise's reputation and put their clients’ privacy at risk. Obviously, firms should focus on effective cybersecurity solutions as much as they do on their service quality and user experience, but many are still reluctant to do so.

For a look at today’s business security status quo, we spoke to Hatem Hariri, the Managing Director at CNS.

Both your team and client base have grown exponentially since your start in 1987. What has the journey been like for CNS?

From the get-go, CNS has had a history of consistent transformation to meet the needs of our customers. Initially, we focused on legacy digital infrastructure and networking. In 1997, we saw an opportunity to delve into digital banking solutions to expand our customer base. In the early 2000s, CNS expanded further to include Managed Services and IT Outsourcing in its portfolio of services.

As we expanded to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with an office in Oman and another in Kuwait, our clients were ready for our Cloud, Applications, and Cyber Security services. Today we even have a dedicated office in Saudi Arabia to support the aspirational vision of the 2030 development campaign.

The trick was staying ahead of market demands, and when I joined, we implemented the Perform and Transform strategy. It focuses on keeping digital infrastructure, cyber security, and cloud a priority while transforming into all new technologies, innovations, and digital transformations.

Can you introduce us to what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?

The world of business information is becoming very big, very fast. The sheer volume of data becoming available, along with the unprecedented accessibility required is overwhelming for many businesses. CNS empowers organizations with an accredited portfolio of solutions and services tailored to their specific business needs. We help them to take the lead in the rapidly evolving digital world.

Our solutions comprise digital infrastructure and networking, Cloud services, cybersecurity, and digital transformation. Along with that, we also provide managed services and IT outsourcing to ensure our clients get consistently high levels of service.

We also have a specialized division that focuses on Digital Banking and Fintech for our more established clients in the banking and finance industry.

How did the pandemic affect CNS? Were there any new features added to your services as a result?

While it's callous to talk about the positives of a pandemic, as it turns out, we work in a field of enterprise that was most needed during the time. Technology has been instrumental in cushioning the blow of the economic shutdown, and it will continue to do so as organizations become used to the new norm born from the disruption. It was also an eye-opener, and businesses will want to remain ready for such unforeseen business challenges in the future.

Before the pandemic, digital transformation was just a topic of discussion. Organizations didn't see the need to leap with their budgets feeling safe in their technological comfort zone. When the pandemic hit, it triggered the global implementation of digital transformation very fast. Luckily, CNS had all the necessary tools and solutions at the ready.

We provide services for government entities, banks, hospitals, and clinics – many of the new features we put forward helped these clients reinvent their communications, payment, and document management systems. Of course, implementing effective remote working solutions was at the top of the agenda for many of our clients to reduce the impact on billable business.

With a wide variety of security options and providers available on the market, certain companies and individual users still hesitate to upgrade their cybersecurity. Why do you think that is the case?

Well, there could be two reasons for this. One has to do with unresponsive management and organizational structures. Many senior executives aren't tech-savvy, so they might not understand precisely what's at stake - their valuable, often personal client information.

We've helped many of our forward-thinking clients overcome this with managed services, where we handle the cyber hygiene of a company's security. Dedicated teams identify and avert any cyber threats without lengthy approval processes and generally ensure that a client is current.

This is also a solution to the other reason - the perceived expense. It's important to understand that seemingly cost-effective open-source software platforms have their problems. If there's no dedicated IT department updating the software as new patches and updates are announced, the risk for successful attacks increases.

This problem is exacerbated when companies use the same hardware and software for many years without updates and the cost to overhaul becomes daunting. Fortunately, a managed services solution can alleviate this problem as the CAPEX value is lower than you realize, especially for companies moving their operations to the Cloud.

In your opinion, what IT and cybersecurity details are often overlooked by new business owners?

Now, many businesses aim for convenience and cost-saving benefits by adopting a bring-your-own-device policy. Employees can use their personal smartphones and computers, which creates significant security risks. If these devices are lost or stolen, precious business-related data could be lost, or worse, fall into the wrong hands.

Also, employees commonly use passwords that are easy to guess or do not change them often enough, making it easier to breach business accounts. Passwords can also be simply shared, given away, or destroyed intentionally by a disgruntled employee.

We offer a consultancy program that will guide your teams through best practices to ensure the safety of your data with solutions that cover access management, advanced device security, and non-disclosure agreements.

What are your thoughts on cybersecurity systems specifically tailored to one's business? Is it something each organization should invest in, or is it only relevant for large enterprises?

After seeing entire companies fall due to data breaches in the recent past, by now, business owners must appreciate that any expense for effective cyber-security becomes an investment in the long run. CNS specializes in designing solutions that are tailored to our client's needs. As such, we don't believe there's any universal solution that a company can install and be completely secure.

So yes, a business of any size must study its business for operational requirements, focusing on ensuring the safe flow and access of operational data. If you're dealing with anyone, a client, or an employee's personal information, as a business, you are obligated to ensure data safety.

What are the best practices companies can adopt to maintain smooth and secure remote operations?

The current trend towards remote culture will still come with a considerable adjustment period. An organization's IT department will undoubtedly be responsible for ensuring that employees have the proper resources to work remotely. At the same time, they'll be held accountable for any breaches or errors. That's why businesses must include employees and stakeholders when changing protocols to secure office information that was either previously logged using pen and paper or kept in an internal network. WFH culture leverages technology to facilitate communications and other transactions that were once made in person – people must be part of the solution to reap the benefits ultimately.

Talking about personal security online, what solutions do you think every Internet user should look into?

When it comes to personal security online, according to Cybernews, antivirus software is essential for the protection of digital assets, including emails, files, and other personal information. While there are many effective and affordable options, we also believe that another major part of digital security is education. We encourage organizations to train and educate their employees. When internet users can identify phishing scams, malware, viruses, or ransomware, you turn them into a very effective human firewall.

What does the future hold for CNS?

Digitalization is the future. And right now, we're way ahead of it, so we're in a confident space of growth alongside our clients. With the exponential leaps of faith our clients have had towards tech since the disruption of the pandemic, it's an exciting time for businesses that deliver and integrate technology. CNS has also set up a new division dedicated to innovations from new solutions using AI and RPA in intelligent business analytics to applications in the field of virtual reality for enterprise information. In addition, after several recent successes with prominent clients, the list of internationally recognized partners who trust us to deliver their solutions to the region is growing too.

 

Source: https://cybernews.com/security/hatem-hariri-cns-as-a-business-you-are-obligated-to-ensure-data-safety/  

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