Consolidation and automation key as cybersecurity becomes a competitive edge in 2022

Author: Purandar Das

This article was originally published:

– February 9, 2022

We took two steps forward and three steps back. That’s what 2021 feels like when we realize that cybersecurity incidents have risen 125% year over year. Work from home (WFH), rapid cloud infrastructure adoption, ransomware as a service (RaaS), and services stretched security teams even thinner in a market already reeling from staffing shortages can all feel overwhelming. In 2022, cybersecurity teams stand determined to regain the ground lost to the rapidly shifting threat landscape of 2021. 

As we consider the market trends, the emerging threats, and the business changes of the year ahead, we can be confident that knowing all we’ve learned in the last year makes us better prepared for what is coming at us this year. 

Consolidation Rises

Privacy and security products will move away from the unitasking paradigm where they accomplish one functionality but do so exceptionally well. The rapid changes organizations endured to accommodate WFH and the acceleration of cloud adoption forced many companies to adopt numerous one-off solutions to accommodate business needs and growth. Single-purpose solutions were a wise immediate fix, but managing them becomes unwieldy and time-consuming over time. 

With the current shortage of skilled information security professionals and the much-needed focus on retention, companies need to simplify, centralize, and ease the burden on security teams. Leveraging more holistic solutions delivers multiple capabilities at once and accomplishes these goals. Solution providers who understand this need are refactoring their offerings to be more comprehensive either through development or acquisitions and partnerships. 

By simplifying fewer, more comprehensive solutions, companies can better use their limited workforce and more centrally manage and monitor their organization. This will result in organizations being able to detect and respond to incidents more quickly and efficiently.

Security is a Competitive Advantage

An organization’s data security state will be an important decision-maker for potential customers in the coming year. Over the last few years, consumers have taken a keen interest in how their data has been used and protected, resulting in such legislation as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA). These regulations have forced businesses to better manage how they use and store customer data. 

They want to know that the services and products they choose have a track record of being good stewards of their data and are unlikely to make headlines for a security breach. Organizations that can show a track record of good security practices, especially if it is independently verified, will use this as a strong selling point in the coming years. 

Access is Dynamic

Remote work and cloud infrastructure have demolished the traditional security perimeter of the firewall. Businesses will need to adapt how they approach data access security to protect data. Rather than assigning access once and leaving it forever, a more precise approach involves moving to a zero-standing privilege model. With this model, when access is needed, requests are made, and time-bound permissions are assigned and automatically expire. 

The zero-standing privilege model reduces the risk of insider threats and compromised credentials, decreasing the potential impact of an attack. Using this model in conjunction with intelligent threat monitoring and behavior analysis for both user and network identifies questionable access requests more accurately for better-targeted investigation. By temporarily blocking questionable access, attackers will have a more difficult time making any headway with stolen credentials. 

Automation is Key

Automation will play a key role in managing the global workforce shortage. This is not to say that automation will replace existing workers, but instead that automation will help organizations make the most out of their current workforce. Through automation monitoring and other simple tasks, often time-consuming and tedious, can be lifted from the shoulders of skilled security professionals. This allows them to apply their skills to high-value pursuits such as projects that facilitate organizational improvement. 

Automation is also a crucial component of delivering dynamic access. Managing every access request manually is time-consuming and delays the requestor gaining access to the resources they need. In conjunction with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), automated processes can make rapid decisions for low-risk access requests and expediting responses. Then higher risk requests can be manually evaluated, delivering a balance on speed and security. 

Monitoring Everything

To catch attacks against your organization before it is too late to do anything about it requires monitoring capabilities. To keep on top of attackers and prepare to adopt initiatives such as zero-trust, the quality and degree of monitoring will be a crucial piece of the puzzle. Organizations will be looking for ways to optimize their monitoring capabilities to collect in-depth information about their entire ecosystem, from cloud to on-premises. 

The challenge with additional monitoring is separating the critical indicators from the noise. As part of the move toward better monitoring will need improved methods of highlighting actual threat indicators. This is another place where AI and ML will be central components of improving data. As these technologies are trained to spot actual patterns, they will quickly parse immense volumes of data and elevate the highest priority issues to humans for more in-depth analysis and investigation. 

Being Prepared

In 2021, attackers pulled out all the stops to capitalize on the shifting IT architectures of organizations in response to the pandemic. They took advantage of the chaos and rapid growth to find holes in implementation and create footholds for an attack. In 2022, organizations have a chance to take back control and protect their organization. 

Organizations must fortify their security foundation for the coming year and shore up security in existing infrastructure. Your business can prepare by leveraging technologies that simplify your organizational operations. Centralizing gives you in-depth visibility through a “single pane of glass” and reduces excess labor. This eases the burden on your existing workforce, allowing more effective handling of existing and emerging threats no matter what the 2022 threat landscape throws your way.