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In the fast-paced world of business, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are frequently an integral part of the business growth strategy. However, when it comes to addressing cybersecurity within M&A, it requires thorough due diligence to assess the potential cyber risks associated with a target company.
This blog serves as a checklist, providing a comprehensive list of considerations for organizations with pre-merger and acquisition activity. It will outline the major steps you should take during this period to ensure your decision-making is well informed and ultimately leads to successful integration post-M&A.
Prior to engaging in an M&A deal, organizations need a well-defined strategy formulated by the executive team at the board level, outlining objectives, criteria, and target companies for potential acquisitions. After selecting a target, a thorough assessment of its cybersecurity issues is crucial. Failing to do so can have significant ramifications for the acquiring organization in terms of value and reputation.
For example, imagine an organization acquiring a target company is unaware of a recent cybersecurity breach. This breach granted unauthorized access to sensitive customer information in the target’s loyalty program. Discovering this breach post-acquisition can greatly impact the acquiring organization, causing a decline in stock value and numerous challenges.
These situations emphasize the importance of comprehensive due diligence, particularly regarding cybersecurity, in M&A transactions. It underscores the need to evaluate risks like domain impersonation and data loss before acquiring a company. Assuring the brand’s integrity and assessing its cybersecurity history is vital. Thorough due diligence empowers organizations to make informed decisions and protect themselves from unexpected harm.
When engaging in M&A deals, it is crucial to consider cybersecurity to protect the involved entities from potential risks. Below are four important considerations to mitigate cybersecurity risks during M&A deals.
Brand evaluation plays a critical role in the M&A due diligence process. It helps organizations make informed acquisition decisions by identifying brand or executive impersonation. Thoroughly evaluating the brand enables a better understanding of potential risks and facilitates the implementation of necessary mitigation steps. Here are some of the risks to consider when evaluating the brand of a target company:
When analyzing potential data loss, it’s important to evaluate any online data breaches or instances of data loss that may have occurred within the target company. This evaluation involves utilizing a comprehensive range of sources, including open, deep, and dark web platforms;, technical sources;, and closed sources. The purpose of this analysis is to identify any risks or vulnerabilities related to data security and privacy that may exist within the target company. Here are some specific risks that can be assessed during this process:
The concept of attack surface monitoring involves actively seeking out and identifying technical weaknesses or vulnerabilities within a target company. These weaknesses or vulnerabilities can be exploited by attackers to gain unauthorized access and cause harm to a network or online infrastructure. Common risks in terms of attack surfaces include:
Dark web monitoring involves monitoring and gathering intelligence from sources on the dark, deep, and open web where criminal activities are prevalent. This proactive approach helps organizations understand the potential risks associated with their target companies and allows them to take appropriate measures to mitigate those risks. There are several risks that organizations may encounter when it comes to the dark web:
After you’ve done your due diligence and assured yourself that the benefits of acquiring your target company outweigh the risks involved, you can close the deal and officially begin the process of integrating the acquired company into your existing operations. Often, the companies acquired have different security stacks, which can cause challenges in terms of integration and risk management.
ReliaQuest GreyMatter offers a range of capabilities to help organizations address these challenges associated with M&A activities. When integrating acquired entities or business units, GreyMatter offers the capability to quickly gain visibility into their security infrastructure and effectively manage the inherited risk that comes with the new acquisition. GreyMatter’s bi-directional API integrations enable seamless connectivity with various security tools, such as different EDRs, SIEMs, and clouds.
It can be difficult to continuously monitor and analyze security events as M&A transpires. With GreyMatter, you can actively monitor security events and utilize advanced analytics techniques and threat intelligence to promptly identify and address potential security risks. By taking a proactive approach to managing these risks, GreyMatter creates a more secure business environment for the organizations involved in the M&A activities.
The GreyMatter Security Model Index, a security metrics dashboard, allows you to measure performance for the overall organization as well as across different business units. This helps you assess the effectiveness of your security measures and make informed decisions based on real-time insights.
Successful M&A transactions and subsequent business unit integrations require careful consideration of cybersecurity risks and thorough due diligence. By evaluating the brand, analyzing potential data loss, monitoring attack surfaces and the dark web, organizations can mitigate potential risks and make informed decisions during the pre-M&A stage.
The post-deal integration phase, supported by solutions like ReliaQuest GreyMatter, plays a crucial role in enabling a smooth and secure transition. Ultimately, prioritizing cybersecurity throughout the M&A process safeguards organizations from unexpected harm and paves the way for long-term success.
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