The seven themes driving the future of cybersecurity

Team8 announced the release of a report which details the seven themes shaping the future of cybersecurity. These themes are driven by the impact of the pandemic, the increase in remote work, and the rising number of cyberattacks, which are causing governments to respond.

themes cybersecurity future

The report includes an analysis of what’s driving each of the themes, as well as both cyber attacker and defender perspectives. It also lists the existing and emerging solutions necessary to address each theme, and the vendors that provide such products or services.

“2021 has been, without a doubt, a year of disruption, with increasing technology complexity, which resulted in more vulnerabilities and a surge in demand for cybersecurity solutions. This disruption has created new opportunities for attackers and defenders alike. As we look ahead to 2022, we expect to see an increased focus on cloud security (specifically cloud-native and SaaS), smarter security using AI and automation, and stronger resilience and recovery (with a focus on automated recovery solutions),” said Aaron Dubin, VP of Strategy & Business Research at Team8.

The report is based on interviews with CISOs and cyber defenders from the Team8 Village, the Team8 cybersecurity team, and a range of global advisors, confirming the top areas of acceleration in cybersecurity from the perspective of security leaders.

Four global trends fueling the cybersecurity themes

Trend 1: Risk of remote work

The increased cybersecurity risk of remote work is clear. Research shows that remote work and digital transformation are responsible for a substantial proportion of data breaches. Remote work has also increased the frequency and costs of these breaches.

Trend 2: Shift in ransomware

Ransomware isn’t new, but the focus of it is shifting. IT and cybersecurity professionals have been managing it for over a decade, but the difference today is that these attacks can put whole enterprises, as well as critical infrastructure, at risk. The Colonial Pipeline attack, in which hackers demanding ransom led the company to shut down its entire oil pipeline, brought the issue into sharp focus. Today, ransomware is a genuine existential risk to the survivability of an enterprise.

Trend 3: Increased government response

These high-profile attacks are leading to increased government response. In 2021, Team8 observed the willingness of governments, worldwide, to step into cybersecurity in the context of commercial enterprises. The Biden administration highlighted cybersecurity as one of its highest priorities in Executive Order 14028 on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity. Similarly, the European Union (EU) introduced the Digital Operations Resilience Act (DORA), while the UK introduced the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill.

Trend 4: More private investment

If change continues at the same rate as in 2021, with a corresponding increase in cyberattacks, enterprises and governments could be in trouble. Inevitably, private sector investments have and will continue to increase. Much of this private investment is expected to go into areas influenced by recent events, such as areas that digital transformation and remote work have impacted. This includes cloud adoption and digital services, as well as identity and access management (IAM).

The seven themes

Theme #1: Cloud security

More organizations are moving into the cloud as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and digital transformation. As businesses become increasingly digital, they consume more cloud services. Most of today’s enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy to enhance cybersecurity because anything built and designed around one cloud is exposed to the risk of a single-point of failure. Ultimately, cloud platform providers may be pushed out of security controls’ monitoring and management by better offerings from third-party cloud security providers, which will lead to an increase in external and third-party security solutions.

The two main cloud security challenges are shadow IT and misconfigurations, which increase the number of vulnerabilities. In addition, hacker tactics have evolved. Instead of targeting a single company, bad actors are now targeting vendors and service providers with cloud supply chain attacks that can affect the company as well as its customers and partners.

Theme #2: Smarter security

Increasingly complex tech stacks result in more security vulnerabilities. At the same time, there’s a talent shortage, which inhibits an organization’s ability to protect itself. As a result of these trends, cybersecurity vendors are adding AI and machine learning (ML) to their offerings to supplement what cybersecurity professionals can accomplish. Without smarter security, it will be impossible to handle the increasing volume of challenges effectively.

AI and intelligent automation can reduce the cost and time of security operations significantly.

Theme #3: Resilience and recovery

Digital infrastructure is now business-critical infrastructure, so cybersecurity cannot stop at “identify, protect, detect, and respond.” A sound security strategy must also enable swift recovery from degradation, disruption, or denial of access to enterprise systems or data, as well as the fast reconstitution of assets and capabilities. Cybersecurity needs to consider not only specific data or IT systems, but also the risks posed to business processes. Increasingly, the conversation is moving to operational risk and resilience because standard business continuity arrangements are insufficient in the face of malicious cybersecurity action.

As was evident in 2021, ransomware attacks are becoming more common, necessitating both resilience and recovery.

Theme #4: Security of things

The massive acceleration in the number and variety of IoT devices is creating new categories of attack that need to be planned for to protect individuals, data, and enterprises. Every connected device or network must be protected, including laptops and desktops, as well as sensors and smart devices.

In the context of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), there are concerns regarding the resiliency of critical infrastructure. Unfortunately, much of this infrastructure is decades old and difficult to change rapidly.

Theme #5: Perimeterless world

Before the pandemic hit, organizations had been pushing past their own four walls to accommodate international expansion, distributed teams, and remote work scenarios. COVID-19 accelerated the demise of the enterprise perimeter and now, it’s almost obsolete. This increases the need for enhanced IAM with a growing use of zero trust architectures that provide better control, without requiring all traffic to pass through specific perimeter access enforcement points.

Theme #6: Data security

Data is at the heart of everything in the modern corporation. While the focus has previously been on confidentiality, today there is an increased focus on availability. Integrity of data will be the next frontier for data security considerations.

Personally identifiable information (PII) is the most common type of stolen information, given its black-market and potential ransom value. In response to data breaches and data misuse, users are demanding more transparency and control over how their information is used, and regulatory compliance is becoming more complex as a result.

Theme #7: Shift left

Modern software development tools and practices make it possible to deliver applications faster, but application developers lack the expertise and tools necessary to handle security issues, and the security team doesn’t have enough staff to cover the gap. In an effort to deliver applications faster, developers have increased their use of open source components and frameworks, which may contain vulnerabilities that have not been addressed by the community, or worse, a contributor may have intentionally poisoned the code.

Cybersecurity needs to be shifted left in the application development process to ensure that security considerations are embedded from the start.

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