My business is all about being predictive – determining in advance what could happen from a cyber-security standpoint. But I’m also a CEO, so predictions about the business of security are always on my mind. This year, there is a great deal of change in the air as companies are beginning to ask themselves what the value of security is and appreciate that point products alone are just not going to get the job done.
While one of the biggest challenges remains getting the C-suite interested in security, CISOs are increasingly explaining to the front office the business reasons for security - from compliance, fines, and data loss, to the irreparable harm that could come to the company’s reputation. But there are other important topics in the field, including these five InfoSec trends for 2013.
1. Data analytics. The big discussion is around applying big data to security in a manner paralleling the business intelligence market of some 15 years ago (such as: being able to reliably predict what times of day you will get attacked and the type of attacks that are occurring). For example, today, banks will typically search only for large monetary losses; say a benchmark of $5,000 or above. Using data analytics, however, banks are finding they are getting hit with losses that are deliberately more granular, say $1,000 at a time through PayPal, enabling the theft to fly beneath the radar. As a result of improved data analytics coupled with big data, banks and similar profit-centered hacker and malware targets can become sensitized to threats that are both opportunistic as well as those that may be predictable.
2. Artificial intelligence. Informed by advanced algorithms, a key evolutionary component to protecting data assets will be the insinuation of artificial intelligence into security-based systems. By adapting to its surrounding environment such systems can “learn” when to react and when to stand down based on the level of perceived threat. For example, in machine learning, pattern recognition is the assignment of a label to a given input value. An example of pattern recognition is classification, which attempts to assign each input value to one of a given set of classes (for example, determining whether a given email is "spam" or "non-spam"). In security terms using artificial intelligence (or machine learning) malicious behavior can be parsed by the type of pattern discerned leading to a “go” or “no go” result and, ultimately, the protection of your most valuable asset: your data.
3. Holding pattern for big new point only solutions. The InfoPro, part of the 451 Group, recently published findings on what it’s calling the rise of “converged infrastructure.” In brief, as storage, networks, servers and software become increasingly interdependent; it is driving interest in “integrated infrastructure” solutions including unified computing and converged and appliance-oriented infrastructure. Buying “pieces” is out. Systems need to be designed and tested to work together. It’s also likely that the assimilation of security-based solutions into the enterprise will be increasingly holistic as well, with teams asking themselves: does it fit with our existing technology and security policy, or is it more of a disparate, singular solution that requires administrators to learn some new interface? Given the acceleration of and evolution towards an increasingly integrated IT platform that unifies both infrastructure as well as software, the era of expending CAPEX dollars on disparate, standalone solutions may well be over.
4. Visibility and Vigilance in the Cloud. Companies are focusing on broad visibility around what’s happening with their data in the cloud — similar to the way Salesforce.com enables anyone in an organization to track many aspects of a sales process. In fact, with the combined popularity of mobile device technology and the adoption of cloud computing, it’s become paramount that if companies are going to move data or store it in the cloud they’re going to want better visibility into who can see their data, even if it’s only by them and their IT staff. They also want to know how they can be notified, with the earliest indicator possible, if there is an issue around security or, as we’ve seen most recently, cloud downtime or outright failure. If cloud is ultimately going to be a panacea of trusted data storage, backup and recovery, the security concerns that continue to wag the tail of this dog must ultimately be replaced by unconditional transparency, visibility and above all, secure access.
5. Security Products Become Commoditized. It happens in many industries, but especially in IT. Sooner or later most of today’s innovations become tomorrow’s commoditized legacy products. As IT budgets continue to remain at or below current levels, the spend on security will likely not be more or less, up or down, but will be different, favoring integrated solutions rather than standalone ones and those that have proven themselves in similar environments and threat situations.
It’s typical for IT to be heads-down, focused on the many threats coming from many directions. The often overwhelming nature of the job can prevent the best in the business from seeing the big picture around how the industry is changing or how InfoSec can affect the future of a company. But it’s important to take a step back, evaluate what’s new, and how to best leverage it so that the C-suite takes notice.