Updated: May 11, 2021
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are a critical component of scaling a business. But with such major business decisions and transitions comes with possible security risks that can be debilitating. That’s why you have to be extremely careful during Mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
As you continue to mesh your data and processes with the newly acquired company’s third party software or service, the higher your chances of introducing potential backdoors, spyware, substandard security practices, and dangerous things of that nature into your business operations.
Though it is often an exercise that’s sometimes done hurriedly, security testing is vital if not a critical aspect of a merger or acquisition. The way that you conduct the testing can make or break your organization so it must be done with the utmost care and consideration.
So what can you do to avoid acquiring a business that has had a breach? Here are a few suggestions that can help:
Ensure that you carry out your due diligence
Before embarking on any merger or acquisition, make sure that you do your due diligence fully. This will help you determine whether there are any issues that you should be on the lookout for as it regards your data security. First things first, you will need to find as well as secure your businesses’ most valuable resources, which in many scenarios is the IP or intellectual property.
Likely, one of the biggest reasons why organizations opt to go the M&A way is the IP that adds value to a business. That’s why it is so essential that you focus your resources on protecting your newly acquired IP and keeping it away from prying eyes.
It helps if you examine your data security from the perspective of both the attacker and defender to ensure that your t’s are crossed and I’s dotted. Assess how your organization appears from the attackers’ perspective and then take measures to protect any sensitive data that can be exposed.
Finally, before actually finalizing the M&A, try and find out which security measures the organization that you want to acquire has in place. Does the business conduct regular vulnerability tests?
How about penetration tests? Are there strong email security practices in place? Are there any security vulnerabilities in the databases and cloud configurations at a granular level? Paying attention to such important components will prevent you from acquiring a company that has had a security breach.
Carry out the right security tests and do it regularly
You don’t want to skimp on your security testing- it’s the last thing that you want to do. Because all organizations are different, keep in mind there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to testing. So first things first, you will have to determine your businesses’ testing level based on the criteria, tools, practices, and processes that you have at your disposal.
Then, set a standard that will allow you to proactively hunt for potential threats. Develop procedures that will allow you to respond to those threats efficiently. Another great way to determine whether your newly acquired needs testing is to look at the organization’s IP, then work backward to determine what system your data resides in, the control that you have in place around the system, as well as whether those controls are working as they should.
Don’t forget to carry out these tests
You will want to carry out tests regularly, the most important of which are red and purple team tests, penetration tests, as well as vulnerability assessments. Why do you ask?
These kinds are designed to expose as well as get rid of any possible threats. Vulnerability assessments call for databases, networks, and apps to be tested so that the networks can be kept safe.
These kinds of tests, on the other hand, are vital for finding and taking care of existing risks. Penetration testing is easy to do via ethical hacking and testing application security, which will enable you to discover any possibly harmful threats so that you can mitigate any risks and liabilities before the merger is complete.
Red and purple teams
Red and purple teams are great for finding and defending your organization against any possible threats. Red teaming is typically a combative strategy that involved discovering vulnerabilities in the company’s sensitive data. Purple teaming, on the other hand, tends to be more collaborative and is designed to allow organizations to grow and defend systems through well-established strategies and techniques.
If you do acquire or merge with a business that has a data breach, you will want to act as soon as possible to prevent the problem from getting out of hand. You must act quickly to prevent further compromise to the business. You can take the first step by assembling a team of experts or forensic investigators that will determine the source and scope of the breach.
You will also need legal counsel that will guide you on all issues privacy and data security. This will allow you to start the recovery process so that normal operations can resume as soon as possible. Time is still money, right?
As businesses venture into the unknown whenever M&As take place, it’s not just the new supply chains, infrastructure, employees, and partners that they have to concern themselves over. Above all, they should prioritize security throughout the merging and acquiring process to make certain that the transition is as risk-free as humanly possible.
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