Expert Speak

Seven Trends That Can Help Make the Modern Enterprise More Secure and Agile

Sajith Kumar, General Manager – Enterprise from Cloud Box Technologies summarizes possible technology and strategic measures in 2022 that can help transform security for the enterprise.

For the Boards of global and regional organizations, cybersecurity and managing digital transformation alongside, are promising to be amongst the most challenging. While Boards are doing a lot to bridge the gap between themselves and the CISO and the security organization, here are some other technology and strategic measures that can help make the enterprise more agile and secure.

Trend #1 The big policy reset
What is the biggest and most immediate change required in an organization’s security policies? It is the fact that majority of its employees are no longer employees but more like remote workers. Or in other words, remote workers are now the workers and remote work is now the organization’s work. In other words, enterprises need to reset their entire security policies and tools to be able to manage risks from this new organizational reality.

Trend #2 Managing workers
How will security be deployed for the modern hybrid organization, where workers are switching between multiple modes of working. At times they will be onsite inside the office firewall, at other times mobile and on the move, and at other times working from home. All the while accessing the wireless networks, Internet or private VPNs. How will an organization’s security architecture continuously adjust for its workers as they move across its fabric?

Today’s enterprises are being turned inside out with these challenges of managing workers requiring multiple modes and levels of security access. All organizations will need to have a defensive posture and well-defined security policies and risks with regard to onsite, remote, and mobile workers. One of the approaches is to develop and deploy a cybersecurity mesh, which enables a distributed enterprise to deploy and extend security where it is required the most.

Trend #3 Managing enterprise assets
Other than the pandemic, digital transformation is also responsible for connecting industrial, operational, IT assets that are distributed across the fabric of the organization. These assets could be located at the edge, inside the network, at the core, and even inside other networks.

Gateways and middleware are now effectively and efficiently connecting disparate networks inside enterprises that were not feasible a decade ago. To manage all these challenges, security needs to be flexible, agile, scalable and yet robust enough to deliver for workers and protect for the organization.

Trend #4 Just who is an employee?
As workers move across the enterprises’ security fabric, their security access levels need to keep changing. More importantly so should their identity-based security, with zero-trust being a dominant requirement. While zero-trust identity access is not new, it gains renewed importance in the face of hybrid worker access as well integration of disparate networks driven by digital transformation.

Social engineering to gain identity access is a dominant activity for sophisticated global threat actors. Hence, identity management techniques and practices need to be further elevated in terms of importance. Along with human identities, we also have machine and robot identities, that are adding additional complexities in the overall identity access management operations.

Digital technologies such as robotic process automation are driving automation of processes and each of these automated process or Bots requires a sign-on into the network and application stacks. APIs are another vulnerable hot spot where access is granted to users across multiple applications via APIs. To better manage digital transformation, enterprises need to relook at their end-to-end identity credentials across all humans, Bots, devices.

Trend #5 Board improves communication
Boards are now alerted to address the challenges thrown up by ransomware, advanced persistent threats, and other supply chain malware that are having disastrous effects on some global businesses. Board members have been in the spotlight for being unable to speak the same language as CISOs and therefore unable to bridge the gaps from top to bottom. Now they are forming dedicated committees headed by security experts and selected board members to bridge the gap and address the challenge.

With this initiative, CISOs can expect much better information flow with the Board, as well as much deeper conversations about security spending, policies, proactiveness, risks and governance, strategy.

Trend #6 Proliferation of vendors
An ongoing challenge that continues into the next year is the complexity of security tools that are being managed by CISOs and IT managers. Global surveys by research firm Gartner have found that 78% of CISOs are managing 16 or more tools across their cybersecurity vendor portfolio. While 12% of CISOs are managing more than 46 tools.

The harsh reality is that cybersecurity organisations have far too many tools, from far too many vendors, leading to complex management routines, continuously high demand on skills, and increasing security headcount.

Under these circumstances, CISOs need to begin extended vendor consolidation activities, realising that such activities take time and there is no short-term solution while heading in this direction. Another reality check is that reduction of capex spending may not be a direct, realisable benefit, but rather reduction of indirect costs and increase in operational efficiency are more achievable and realisable targets.

Trend #7 Testing and validation
New tools are being added to the portfolio of solutions that can be used to validate an organization’s security vulnerabilities. One such area is breach and attack simulations that do continuous testing and validation of security controls and test the ability to withstand external threats. It also highlights risks to high-value assets such as highly confidential data.

Another area that is developing is the ability to protect data while it is being read and used, in comparison to protecting data in motion or at rest. This enhanced security allows secure data processing, secure sharing, and cross-border transfers without risks.

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