Top Priorities for CIOs over the next Year

We've come a long way on the timeline of enterprise information security. About ten years ago we’d finally become used to the idea of a second firewall upgrade and were thinking about dedicated security teams and policies that had a reach much farther than just the IT team.

Today, and into the next twelve months, the list of priorities for CIOs and CISOs is far more complex and only bears a passing resemblance to the past.

The future looks far more advanced, from a security perspective, which by right is an accurate reflection of the nature of the threats that we now face. Traditional security technologies are struggling to keep up, and in many ways have seen their day. Today’s shopping list of security tools would include Mobile Device Management (MDM) services, next generation firewalls and threat detection tools as well as new more active types of host anti-virus; altogether more complex and advanced than the types of tools we were buying just a few years ago.

Also on the agenda are the softer, more human components of information security. Compliance tools and processes have never been more important, neither, and perhaps surprisingly for some, are formal enterprise privacy agreements for users. The latter in response to growing privacy concerns driven by major data leakage and snooping scandals, and the former—your staff—being a new frontier for soft security technologies and training, that seek to secure one of the weakest lines of defense in enterprise.

So all things considered, here are my predictions for the types of projects you’ll be seeing this year:

- Cloud identity and authorization: With the rise of cloud based services in the enterprise, IT teams will need to ensure access control requirements are met across all services. Using third party identity and authorization services that integrate with the cloud and on-premise directory services will be essential to enable the use of cloud services that can match your enterprise authentication policies.

Cloud encryption: If not provided by a cloud security vendor already, more CIOs will demand their data be encrypted in the cloud with a separate cloud encryption tool. Public cloud services will be affected most to guarantee the confidentiality of data for the enterprise as CIOs seek to find ways to protect their information regardless of its storage location.

- Formal privacy programs: Privacy is critical to both customer and end user trust in your organization, with the added benefit of helping you comply with local laws and customs. CIOs will be creating privacy protection controls for their sensitive customer data and personal information that balance business enablement with business protection. This is a new concept for many, but as the line between enterprise and personal computing is increasingly unclear, CIOs will need to establish clear boundaries for data access, storage and monitoring.

- Next generation tech: The ‘next generation’ is never well defined, but we know the current generation of technologies is fast being outmoded. Security technology in particular has become easy for attackers to circumvent, so vendors are responding with next generation, more advanced, security solutions. Spear-phishing is a great example – all the most recent high profile attacks have bypassed traditional email security technologies, by the use of very well crafted malicious emails.

- Threat detection and response: Similarly, as threats change and become more stealth we need to address how we detect and respond to them, given the possibility we may not be able to prevent them all. End point and host detection will play a large role in these new projects as businesses look for ways to quickly detect the outbreak of a problem on an end point and seek to lock it down or remote wipe it as quickly as possible.

- Security governance: This has always been a growing part of a CIO’s responsibilities, and we’ll see IT GRC management and ITSM increase as rigor is brought to bear on the IT department, and the buy-in of IT initiatives by the rest of the organization becomes more normal.

- Mobile device management: BYOD has come and gone, or at least embedded itself in our everyday IT policy. Users, not satisfied with your policies being enforced on their personal devices, appear to be much happier with the containerized or compartmentalized use of business data and apps on those devices. Simply letting users bring their devices into your network is no longer acceptable as it once was, controlling the use or your data on their devices is now essential.

- Testing and training: Security training has always been part of our routine for users. Most new users are given a ‘sheep dip’ when they join, and a rare few given ongoing training thereafter. But, as the value of training is diminished by more successful attacks in the face of well trained staff, real-time testing becomes a more viable solution. There are numerous open source tools available to help you socially engineer your staff; we should expect to see these sort of activities being offered as services in the near future, and should take advantage of them – even if you've shied away from classic “pen-testing” in the past.

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