by Richard Berkley
Contributing Editor

Recently I was walking through a major US Airport and saw an advertisement for a multi-billion-dollar Management Consulting firm. It simply said: “Get digital or get left behind”.

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the fear-selling clearly targeted at division managers and road warriors and think of all the urgency surrounding the need to revolutionize one’s business or be eviscerated in the marketplace. Let me get this out front before I’m accused of a luddite who is only interested in human behavior: digitization is a great thing on balance!

Ok, with that out of the way, let us talk about my garage. Yes, I am aware this is a cyber blog, but come with me on this detour for a moment…

I bought a house that was 90 years old. Great quality of construction but there were a lot of little things missing. One of them was electricity to the detached garage. No problem! I’ll just run a 60amp cable from the junction box to the garage, install a new circuit breaker and bam! Weeeeelllll… after I had spent the money to upgrade my 100 amp junction to a 200 amp (code these days) and paid to have the conduit buried under the drive, and replaced the plaster (because drywall wasn’t a thing in 1928)… I was in for a lot more time and money than I expected. About three months went by and the subpar sealing job on the side of my house started to leak. Luckily I caught it quickly before there was any damage to the foundation which was now being covered in water and debris during even the smallest of rain storms.

The problem? I built something new and exciting on existing infrastructure without thinking about the purpose, capability and capacity of what I had. You want that new shiny digital tool? Why segregate your network when you can just slap it on and call it good? The vendor says they are plug and play? Are you certain they wont slow down business/mission critical operational data?

Of course, there is a flip side; we can’t just build a new house every time we want to add some amperage to an addition. Truth be told, I have forgotten about the price of my electrical work long ago as the value from a functioning garage has more than paid for it in my view. Still, if I were to do it again, and I would do it again, I would have spent more time thinking through the right connections in the right places without risking the foundation of my home.

A major industrial client of mine, in a race to get the latest vibration sensors on their pump system, utilized their IT network to connect everything. It wasn’t a cost decision, it was a time and convenience decision. The ensuing outage of their corporate email and accounting software surely drove the cost of that urgency to the highest level and, yes, heads rolled (so to speak).

Thinking about cyber as you digitize is no different from my garage project. Yes, there is a need to digitize aspects of your business to stay competitive. I will save my rant on differentiating between digital leverage and digital luxury for later editions of this blog; however, a few days up front would have saved me a lot of grief and an almost irreparable foundation. A few dollars or days spent goes a long way when protecting yourself from cyber risk in a digitizing world!

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