Why it’s vital to take a holistic approach to cybersecurity trends
Cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, with bad actors engaged in a perpetual mission to exploit network vulnerabilities. When we think we are doing enough, there’s always more to be done.
Defences are evolving, too, with new practices being developed alongside new tools, infrastructure designs, and understanding of human behaviour. Recently, Gartner published their Top Trends in Cybersecurity, a detailed analysis of nine areas modern cybersecurity teams are focusing on.
Three overarching themes emerge The essential role of people in the success of security programs, implementing security capabilities across the entire digital ecosystem, and restructuring the way the security function operates to enable agility without compromising security.
A key finding that ties these trends together is the imbalance in attention paid to the three areas of cybersecurity controls: people, process, and technology.
Traditionally, security leaders have leaned heavily on technology to reduce cybersecurity risk. Now, there’s increasing recognition that people have immense influence on security and risk outcomes. People throughout the organisation need to be aware and involved.
So, the human element is vital. Data continues to indicate that individual users are a prime source of system vulnerability. Gartner found that 69% of employees they surveyed intentionally bypassed their organisation’s cybersecurity guidance in a 12-month period.
While nearly all knew their actions were increasing risk levels, nearly three out of four employees would bypass a security control if it would help them or their team to achieve a business objective.
To combat these natural human tendencies, cybersecurity teams are evaluating their controls in order to reduce friction and designing more human-centric solutions. They’re also working with security staff to deliver more empathy-driven, outcomes-focused UX practices.
It’s easy to say that security teams need to be delivering more. With the ongoing shortage of talent, chances are that a team is already stretched pretty thin. Cybersecurity leaders are focusing on attracting, retaining and upskilling the people they need to maintain a strong security posture.
That means partnering with HR to differentiate the employee experience, increase engagement, onboard a more diverse team, and provide clear paths for development and advancement.
The human element in cybersecurity also involves the highest levels of leadership. A recent Gartner survey shows that boards of directors will need to embrace fresh approaches to risk.
This means reporting needs to be appropriate to the level of technical expertise and focused on risk management and business outcomes. Painting a clear picture helps board members understand how their decision-making on cybersecurity helps the organisation to meet its overall objectives.
It is essential to secure the entire ecosystem. As organisations implement security protocols and respond to evolving risks, it’s become clear that real protection means looking beyond the immediate environment.
Threats outside the organisation, such as supply chains, need to be included under the risk management umbrella. While it’s not realistic to address every threat in an organisation’s broader ecosystem, threat management approaches can still be implemented to enhance threat detection and faster response.
Continuous threat exposure management (CTEM) is an emerging practice of systemically optimising cybersecurity priorities. Organisations implementing CTEM are moving beyond reactive diagnosis and remediation toward proactive exposure assessment.
Cybersecurity teams are assessing vendor and supply chain vulnerabilities in order to fix access holes and maintain a more resilient ecosystem.
Cybersecurity validation is another trend organisations are using to validate how potential attackers would exploit a threat exposure and how protection systems and processes would react. This approach goes beyond testing control and monitoring tools to assess the readiness of team mobilisation, procedures, processes, and decision-making.
The third major cybersecurity trend identified by Gartner consists of restructuring approaches that enable agility without compromising security. These include cybersecurity platform consolidation, transformation of the operating model, and composable security.
Organisations are consolidating their security vendors to decrease complexity and increase staff efficiency. This allows them to benefit from better integration and access to more features with fewer products. It’s important to keep in mind that consolidation has its own potential risks, including higher pricing.
Transformation of the cybersecurity operating model is being driven by increased decentralisation of IT decision-making. As technology permeates entire organisations, business lines, corporate functions, and even individual employees are making their own acquisition decisions.
This means that risk decisions are being made outside cybersecurity’s purview. Cybersecurity teams need to shift their mindset and support rather than fight decentralised decision-making.
Decision-making employees and teams need to have the right tools to understand cybersecurity along with the many risks they’re balancing, including financial, reputational, competitive and legal risks.
Composable security is an approach where cybersecurity controls are no longer looked at as monolithic systems but are integrated into the architecture and then applied at a modular level. Essentially, the infrastructure comprises interchangeable building blocks in order to be more responsive to the accelerating pace of business change.
A cybersecurity team’s work is never done. But it’s becoming so much more than monitor-and-patch. As these trends show, risk identification, security management, and resilience are enhanced by addressing the interplay of people, processes, and technology.
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