The Internet has transformed human society at a historically unprecedented rate. Today, the transactions, applications, and data flowing across the Internet from and to billions of connected and interconnected devices have become critical for businesses, consumers, and governments. However, our growing reliance on the resulting digital economy also exposes us to a new range of risks and threats never even anticipated less than 50 years ago. As networks continue to undergo digital transformation to accommodate today’s and tomorrow’s business and social requirements, an equal transformation in how we secure this pervasive environment must also occur.
The growth of the Internet is unprecedented by any other invention in all of human history. And by most estimates, we are just at the beginning. With the rapid adoption of IoT devices, for example, many experts predict that there will be four devices connected to the Internet for every human being on earth by 2020. That rate of growth is both a blessing and a curse. While we can now provide critical data, information, and solutions to the farthest flung corners of the earth, keeping up with tracking, managing, and securing all of these devices is overwhelming the resources of many organizations.
In a short time, these and new devices we have barely begun to even conceive of, will be connected—and interconnected—in ways no one could have possibly anticipated. And if history is any guide, the size of the networked landscape and the volume of data flowing through today’s networks will not just continue to grow, but continue to grow exponentially.
The challenge with our growing reliance on digital resources is that anything that can be generated, transmitted, stored, or analyzed, no matter how valuable, can also be stolen, corrupted, or misused. So the question businesses and governments are grappling with today is, how can they capitalize on the opportunity of the digital economy while managing associated risks?
In this new environment, constant change is the new normal. And given the rate of change that network, devices, and applications are undergoing, organizations must establish a way to maintain control in an constantly churning environment. This includes establishing a deep understanding of every device on their network at any given moment, where their most critical data lives, who has access to which digital resources, where and how workflows and data move, and how applications and services connect everything together.
However, as the rate of adoption of devices and applications accelerates, maintaining visibility and control over these elements is becoming increasingly complicated. The sheer volume alone can overwhelm many organizations. And given the current rate of security breaches and malware development, however, it is clear that yesterday’s security strategies and tools are increasingly less effective. And the complexity and scale of securing against this evolving threat landscape will be compounded further as we move infrastructure and services to multi-cloud environments, leverage increasingly transitory network resources, embrace a more mobile workforce, and continue to merge our public, private, and business lives.
To stay ahead of these changes, security needs to be rethought and retooled. Organizations need to see every device on the network, establish policy at the point of access that can follow data and transactions as they move across and between networked environments, and protect those resources and enforce those policies regardless of their location across the distributed environment.
It also needs to be able to collect and correlate intelligence from every corner of the distributed network in real-time—including from IoT and end-user devices, and across both IT and OT networks and out to the multi-cloud—and combine that information with external security intelligence feeds in order to detect sophisticated threats. And it then needs to be able to automatically marshal all relevant network and security resources to launch a coordinated response, regardless of where an attack occurs, and provide dynamic remediation services to ensure that such a breach never occurs again. This requires shifting our mindsets from our traditional reactive approach to proactive security strategies.
Today's digital marketplace requires weaving data, applications, and workflows into every transaction, device, and bit of data across every aspect of business, government, or personal environments. As a result, cybersecurity can no longer be treated as an overlay IT project applied as an afterthought. Instead, security needs to be woven into workflows and network and application development strategies tied to specific business outcomes from the outset. In today’s digital marketplace, ensuring a proactively secured business or service is the lynchpin to establishing digital trust and creating value.
For this to happen, security needs to embrace three attributes:
We are in the middle of the most disruptive period of innovation in history—and all evidence indicates that this process is only going to continue to accelerate. This growth, of course, will expand opportunity for someone. The question you need to ask is, who will benefit—will it be your competitors, cybercriminals, or you?
Find out more about how to manage digital risk in a feature article in The Wall Street Journal with comments from Phil Quade.