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How to Overcome Technology M&A Security Risks

By Tom Skeen
While an M&A article published earlier this year says that 2015 was the best-ever year, 2016 is shaping up to be on par with top executives searching for more mergers & acquisitions. Firms spent $3.8 trillion on M&A’s last year buying, selling and merging assets. With all of this activity, comes significant M&A security risks if not handled properly.

You’re offered a large sum of cash for your company and you’re most likely relieved to be “cashing out”.  The risks for you are minimal, but the M&A security risks for your buyer just got much bigger.

What do M&A buyers need to look out for?

The security culture within the company you’re buying must be closely assessed, as not all firms make it a priority.

  1. What’s the security mindset of the senior leadership team?
  2. When was the last security & risk controlled self-assessment?
  3. Are security protocols clearly documented?
  4. When was the last system or information breach?
  5. When was the last security audit?

These are just some of the most important questions to have answers for. This list is certainly not an inclusive list of what needs to take place from a M&A security risks assessment standpoint.

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Consolidation Is Key

It’s imperative to understand where the technology security gaps and risks are as often times enterprises onboard many different software applications and technology solutions that have limited capabilities and functionality. This is primarily because existing vendor offerings didn’t have consolidated technology suites when solutions were initially deployed.

It is advisable, when evaluating existing technology against the current use cases required, to think about many items that might not, at first glance, seem obvious. For instance, managing multiple applications individually that can be consolidated into one will greatly lessen M&A security risks and gaps, reduce the possibility of a critical patch or update from being missed, and minimize the overall technology footprint which in turn will also reduce costs. These are just some of the major considerations that must be evaluated when assessing the seller’s current technology against yours and the latest in the market. 

What technology should be deployed immediately?

  • Deploy Enhanced Perimeter Security
    • Stopping malicious outsiders at your perimeter is key
    • Current-day firewalls aren’t effective against advanced cyber attacks
    • Application servers must be removed from the DMZ at your perimeter
    • SDA is a patented secure front-end product that can be deployed in a matter of days augmenting an enterprise’s existing firewalls to assist in protecting against advanced cyber attacks
  • Deploy an Automated Security Policy and Enforcement Engine
    • Integrate a security solution that will enhance your existing products to decide: when data enters, is viewed/edited or exits your enterprise’s network and systems
    • Add security layers to existing data exchange processes to easily and quickly control, monitor, scan, track and audit all touch points from origination to destination
    • Safe-T ’s automated security policy enforcement engine allows an enterprise to easily and quickly add security layers to existing data exchange processes and can also be deployed in a matter of days to assist in protecting against advanced cyber attacks

A merger and acquisition can be an expensive transaction with significant risk if not handled properly. Understanding existing or potential technology security gaps is essential during this event. Failing to establish desired controls could be disastrous to your shareholders, combined customer base and future success of the new consolidated enterprise.

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