Across industries, the trend toward hyper-distribution of people, applications, and data is a phenomenon that holds both promise and peril. On one hand, we can connect talent, software, and information faster than ever to innovate and create value. On the other hand, we’ve opened a sprawling attack surface that changes daily and is prone to cyberthreats and data loss. It’s a landscape that challenges the very effectiveness of network security we trusted for many years.
On the world stage, economic uncertainty, conflicts, and rivalries are on the rise, putting pressure on security and IT leaders to create flexible but secure, resilient, and cost-effective infrastructure to help their organizations navigate and operate through whatever storms may appear on the horizon.
With this landscape as a backdrop, I wanted to share a few predictions to help organizations prepare for the year ahead:
1. The Crimeware-as-a-Service (CaaS) model will thrive - From software to cloud computing, the as-a-service model has become so ubiquitous and lucrative that it’s been adopted as a viable model for carrying out cyberattacks, such as phishing, malware, and ransomware campaigns. Many of the same benefits of an as-a-service model can also be applied to cyberthreats - threat actors at any technical skill level can significantly reduce sunk costs, including development time, and gain the specialized support and expertise needed to carry out successful attacks. Because threat actors no longer need special skills in order to carry out attacks, a life of cybercrime is accessible to nearly anyone with a computer and internet connection. As a result, CaaS offers are here to stay while the frequency and magnitude of cybercrime are increasing, so the risk to enterprises has never been higher.
2. Insider threats will become more prevalent - As organizations brace for a turbulent year ahead amidst a fluctuating macroeconomic environment, shifting workplace styles and talent shortages, it is critical that security teams take a closer look at safeguarding their organizations against the intentional and unintentional threats posed by insiders. Contributing factors such as the increased use of third-party contractors and greater employee movement through hiring and attrition exacerbate this threat. In particular, the rise in hybrid work environments that are still using antiquated VPN technology - which cybercriminals are adept at exploiting through social engineering to gain access to the corporate network - further compounds this threat, which can cause the devastating loss of sensitive information, productivity, revenue, and reputation. Once the network is compromised, attackers can easily move laterally across a routable network to infect applications and find high-value targets, which is why a zero trust security approach - in which users are only connected to specific applications and never to the network - is the only way ensure the security of any mobile, cloud-centric organization.
3. Cybersecurity talent shortages will continue - Just over a year ago, CyberSecurity Ventures estimated there were 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs open globally and predicted that we would have the same gap in 2025. What’s clear, as leaders, is that we need to invest in retaining and developing our security teams and deploy technologies to help them scale even as threats grow in volume and diversity. Shifting to modern architectures, like zero trust, that minimize the attack surface to reduce the volume of attacks is one approach. Another approach is reducing the noise-to-signal ratio with innovations like deception technology which creates high-fidelity alerts when an attacker triggers a decoy or honeypot inside your environment, versus older technologies that produce a flood of low-fidelity alerts that overstretched security teams either ignore or turn off.
A Zero Trust security approach - where no user is inherently trusted and access policies are enforced based on context - is the only way to ensure the security of any mobile, cloud-centric organization.
4. Advanced AI will allow organizations to more intelligently and proactively stop cyberthreats - In 2023, to help their cybersecurity teams scale, enterprises will also continue to capitalize on AI, machine learning (ML), and intelligent automation to advance cyber defenses. Advancements in AI and ML provide high-fidelity intelligence and contextualization that results in better threat detection and helps organizations speed investigations and automate response for faster and more effective remediation. AI engines are also adept at finding and categorizing data distributed across many locations so busy administrators can rapidly apply granular protection policies to guard against external exfiltration or even inadvertent data loss. As more security vendors are incorporating AI and ML into their offerings, it will make it easier for enterprises to take advantage of these benefits, leading to an increase in adoption.
5. Successful organizations will look to consolidate security point products into an integrated cloud security platform - For years, enterprises have had to cobble together a myriad of security point products in an attempt to build a “best-of-breed” system to address all their business needs. However, with the explosive influx of products that cannot effectively integrate and operate seamlessly, the planning, implementation and management of multiple security products is too complex and resource-intensive for IT professionals, while still leaving the organization vulnerable to attacks. Because security is such a critical part of any organization’s operations, a fully-integrated cloud security platform approach is the most practical and effective architecture since it allows for faster deployment, unified management, easier service upgrades and more strategic software lifecycle management while incorporating pre-tested API-based integrations of adjacent tools in the security landscape.
6. Zero trust architecture adoption will accelerate - CISOs and CIOs will start appreciating the true benefits of a zero trust architecture. A recent Zscaler study published in December 2022 indicated that 90% of global enterprises are adopting zero trust, yet have not unlocked its full business potential. In 2023, the broader market will realize that zero trust is simply not achievable by spinning up virtual machines of firewalls and VPNs in the cloud because this still requires users to connect to the network, which by definition, does not constitute zero trust. Zero trust security dictates that no user is inherently trusted and access policies are enforced based on context - including the user’s role, location, device, and the data they are requesting - to block inappropriate access and lateral movement throughout an organization’s environment. With technology advancements and the emergence of solutions and services that will make zero trust security easier to implement, I expect that increasing numbers of CISOs and CIOs will regard a cloud-native zero trust architecture as the preferred means of securing and connecting their distributed organizations.
Do these predictions validate what you’re seeing and experiencing in the security industry today? When you think about how security will evolve in 2023, what are your top concerns and considerations? For a customized demo on how Zscaler may be able to address your organization’s security needs today and in the future or to speak with a security expert about how digital transformation can support modern organizations, please get in touch with us here.