Ecosystems and cyber threats

The business world is in a state of flux as barriers to entry come down and once separate business areas move closer together. This is due to the digital revolution, which has something to offer any business model.

One business model which has done very well out of internet technology is the ecosystem. An ecosystem is when different companies join together to serve markets in a way that they couldn’t do by themselves. There's nothing new about them, take a retailer as an example. It's the front end of an ecosystem that includes many other contributors. With the advent of the digital age, companies will find it harder to operate independently and will find themselves being pushed towards an ecosystem model.

The availability of big data has increased the agility and efficiency of ecosystems. As a result, they are more in tune with market trends and better placed to react to them. Ecosystems can also offer customers an "all-in-one" service as opposed to an individual product which requires add-ons. Take Uber as an example, it has an application programming interface (API) so third parties can integrate their application into Uber. That allows people to access Uber without having to actually log into the Uber app itself.

So we have an unstoppable trend towards ecosystems. That means larger networks. The bigger these networks become, the more susceptible they will be to cyber threats. An attack on one entity within the ecosystem is an attack on all the other members as well. As ecosystems are flexible and change by nature, it's almost impossible to know if they are secure enough. The security aspect will be one step behind the ecosystem as it evolves.

It seems inevitable that ecosystems will increase cyber risks. Companies need to be aware of that. This awareness must also translate into action with regular risk mapping and cooperation across the ecosystem to define and mitigate exposure. The capacity to maintain operations in spite of a cyber incident will be crucial.  

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