Growing securely: the role of resilient networks in driving expansion

04 March 2020

Andrew Halliwell, product director, Virgin Media Business

Andrew Halliwell, product director, Virgin Media Business

Hacks. Data breaches. GDPR fines.

These terms (sadly) continue to dominate the technology headlines – not surprising given cyberattacks more than doubled in 2019, with UK businesses facing more than one online attack every single minute last year, ranging from ransomware to DDoS attacks.

Worryingly, too many businesses aren’t taking action to protect themselves or their customers.

Research published last year found over a fifth of IT security professionals admit they do not carry out security testing on all products before they are launched.

And shockingly, nearly a third (31%) said their organisation has marketed a product they knew contained security vulnerabilities to get ahead of the competition.

Too often, inadequate cybersecurity is blamed on a lack of awareness or negligence but often there’s a more important factor at play – a pressure to grow at all costs.

This is pushing enterprises into racing ahead with growth initiatives without having resilient foundations in place.


Getting carried away

Six in ten businesses plan to grow their customer base in the next five-to-ten years according to a recent report.

That’s absolutely something we should celebrate, especially as a recent McKinsey study spanning 32 years and 3,000 companies found that “growth trumps all” when it comes to financial success.

But a rush for growth can force businesses to find quick fixes or workarounds that allow them to keep pace, especially when their existing technology was never designed to support rapid expansion and change.

That pressure can lead businesses to invest in a red herring that appears to boost productivity and support growth, but that doesn’t offer any resilience or protection in the form of multi-layered authentication or tokenisation, for example.

With equal danger, they might gamble on a radical overhaul of their foundational technology in a way that is negatively disruptive, ripping out parts of their existing infrastructure and leaving networks exposed to a cyberattack.

Clearly, businesses can’t afford to stick with outdated infrastructure that harms their growth prospects, but equally they can’t risk implementing tech that isn’t properly protected or ripping out systems entirely.


Striking the balance 

But what if there was a way to upgrade the infrastructure in a way that drives growth and bolsters resilience?

And all without making the head of security wince and disrupting the day-to-day business in a way that leaves it exposed.

Software Defined Networking, or SD-WAN, gives network managers more power and control over their corporate networks, providing them with a scalable, secure and resilient system that supports rapid growth aspirations.

Giving enterprises the ability to quickly connect-up in new locations, create and roll-out new services, respond to opportunities and expand into new markets, it’s a prime example of how investing in infrastructure can power future growth by transforming customer and employee experiences, and ultimately, help boost the bottom line.

Because the technology is software based, businesses don’t need to make expensive and disruptive wholesale changes at once.

Instead, they can choose where and how they upgrade their infrastructure, safe in the knowledge they can scale and adapt as they go.

And if they’ve got the right partner, they can benefit from strategic consultancy on where exactly these evolutions should take place across their network.

Then there are the security benefits.

Network security used to be about protecting data centres with multiple layers of security before connecting them to a small number of sites.

But with the advent of cloud services, remote working and the huge increase in the number of portable devices which need network access, security challenges and needs have evolved.

In an age of apps and services, networks and data flows have become far more complex and traditional tools either slow growth or leave organisations vulnerable.

SD-WAN responds to the new landscape by providing end-to-end data encryption as standard for all customers.

Organisations can authenticate every user against every app, providing system managers and business leaders with the reassurance they need to focus on growth and scale up securely.


Rapid, protected growth 

Maintaining business growth while keeping networks secure is a challenge businesses can’t afford to ignore.

With companies that fail to protect their customers’ personal data risking fines of up to 4% of annual turnover, as well as losing customer confidence, quick-fix shortcuts threaten to bring unsustainable growth crashing down.

While fast growing businesses typically focus on acquiring new customers and launching new products and services, investing in everyday networks and infrastructure is vital to long-term success.