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The CIO Dilemma: From AI to Age-Old User Cyber Miscues

June 05, 2024

I had the occasion to participate in a group discussion with fellow CIOs during our recently concluded Epicor Insights 2024 user conference. It’s always interesting to compare notes with colleagues and this time was no exception. 

Sharing their experiences from the front lines, my fellow CIOs detailed what it’s like to protect their organizations from increasingly aggressive cyber attackers. They’re quite busy dealing with a surge in cybersecurity incidents in the manufacturing sector. 

No doubt there is increasing onus on CIOs to make their organizations as bullet-proof as humanly possible in their face-off against cyber-attackers targeting plant floor operations. They know that as manufacturers undergo the process of digital transformation, with factory technologies and processes becoming ever more interconnected, network compromises are now only one or two network hops away.  

All of this speaks to the need to promote better cyber hygiene within the workforce. Of course, progress takes time, and every two steps forward are often accompanied by one step back. In fact, one of my panel colleagues recounted how a company-wide audit turned up instances where employees jotted down their logon information on Word documents and spreadsheets—none of which were password-protected!

Keeping Security Top of Mind

The good news is that organizations are serious about confronting the challenges of cloud data security. They’re investing major time and effort into making sure their systems are as stable and secure as possible. In years past, cybersecurity may not have been a top boardroom agenda item, but times have changed.

The CIOs I spoke with know they can't let their guard down in any way that would jeopardize their companies’ security. That means they must continually revisit tools and processes to stay on top of the situation. Still, the pressure will stay on everyone to constantly evolve.  

We hear from mid-sized and smaller customers that as they have digitized their operations over the last decade or so, many don’t feel as protected as they would like to be.  And even though these organizations may build up an extensive computing infrastructure, the reality is that they often lack the skilled personnel needed to implement and enforce good cybersecurity routines. Most just don’t have the budget to afford large teams of skilled cyber defenders or to staff a corporate IT or discrete security department. That challenge hasn’t changed over the years.

AI Everywhere

No surprise that AI—and its cyber implications—was top of mind during our conversation. 

At one point in the discussion, the audience was asked how many of them were using AI or had rolled out some sort of AI capability within their organizations. Hands went up in a little more than half the room. The next question was telling: how many attendees who have rolled out AI were concerned about data privacy and data security within their companies? Nearly everyone who raised their hands the first time raised them again.

Truth be told, Generative AI feels as if it came out of nowhere a year ago. It’s fair to say that most CIOs are likely still in the wait-and-see stage when it comes to fully embracing and understanding this clearly transformative technology. I’m sure you have questions. We all do. 

The good news is that when it comes to cybersecurity, there’s strength in numbers and you’re not alone. We’re all trying to figure out how to leverage this and other new technologies in our businesses without creating new security holes.

At Epicor, this means taking steps like applying strict security rules to data and helping ensure that AI is limited in the types of data it can access. As we invest our R&D efforts into AI and data management, we’ll continue to learn and share best practices for using AI safely. In this and all other innovations at Epicor, we put the trust and confidence of our customers first. 

Learn more about how Epicor AI can help your business drive efficiency and deliver results.