Organizations must evolve strategies to protect an expanding digital footprint against emerging threats

Published: Wednesday, 09 March 2022 08:58

Security and risk management leaders must address seven clear trends to protect the ever-expanding digital footprint of modern organizations against new and emerging threats in 2022 and beyond, according to Gartner, Inc.

“Organizations worldwide are facing sophisticated ransomware, attacks on the digital supply chain and deeply embedded vulnerabilities,” said Peter Firstbrook, research vice president at Gartner. “The pandemic accelerated hybrid work and the shift to the cloud, challenging CISOs to secure an increasingly distributed enterprise – all while dealing with a shortage of skilled security staff.”

These challenges lend themselves to three overarching trends impacting cybersecurity practices:

  1. New responses to sophisticated threats,
  2. The evolution and reframing of the security practice and
  3. Rethinking technology.

The following trends will have broad industry impact across those three domains says Gartner:

Trend 1: Attack Surface Expansion

Enterprise attack surfaces are expanding. Risks associated with the use of cyber-physical systems and IoT, open-source code, cloud applications, complex digital supply chains, social media and more have brought organizations’ exposed surfaces outside of a set of controllable assets. Organizations must look beyond traditional approaches to security monitoring, detection and response to manage a wider set of security exposures.

Digital risk protection services (DRPS), external attack surface management (EASM) technologies and cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) will support CISOs in visualizing internal and external business systems, automating the discovery of security coverage gaps.

Trend 2: Digital Supply Chain Risk

Cybercriminals have discovered that attacks on the digital supply chain can provide a high return on investment. As vulnerabilities such as Log4j spread through the supply chain, more threats are expected to emerge. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 45 percent of organizations worldwide will have experienced attacks on their software supply chains, a three-fold increase from 2021.

Digital supply chain risks demand new mitigation approaches that involve more deliberate risk-based vendor/partner segmentation and scoring, requests for evidence of security controls and secure best practices, a shift to resilience-based thinking and efforts to get ahead of forthcoming regulations.

Trend 3: Identity Threat Detection and Response

Sophisticated threat actors are actively targeting identity and access management (IAM) infrastructure, and credential misuse is now a primary attack vector. Gartner introduced the term ‘identity threat detection and response’ (ITDR) to describe the collection of tools and best practices to defend identity systems.

“Organizations have spent considerable effort improving IAM capabilities, but much of it has been focused on technology to improve user authentication, which actually increases the attack surface for a foundational part of the cyber security infrastructure,” said Firstbrook. “ITDR tools can help protect identity systems, detect when they are compromised and enable efficient remediation.”

Trend 4: Distributing Decisions

Enterprise cyber security needs and expectations are maturing, and executives require more agile security amidst an expanding attack surface. Thus, the scope, scale and complexity of digital business makes it necessary to distribute cyber security decisions, responsibility, and accountability across the organization units and away from a centralized function.

“The CISO role has moved from a technical subject matter expert to that of an executive risk manager,” said Firstbrook. “By 2025, a single, centralized cyber security function will not be agile enough to meet the needs of digital organizations. CISOs must reconceptualize their responsibility matrix to empower Boards of Directors, CEOs and other business leaders to make their own informed risk decisions.”

Trend 5: Beyond Awareness

Human error continues to be a factor in many data breaches, demonstrating that traditional approaches to security awareness training are ineffective. Progressive organizations are investing in holistic security behavior and culture programs (SBCPs), rather than outdated compliance-centric security awareness campaigns. An SBCP focuses on fostering new ways of thinking and embedding new behavior with the intent to provoke more secure ways of working across the organization.

Trend 6: Vendor Consolidation

Security technology convergence is accelerating, driven by the need to reduce complexity, reduce administration overhead and increase effectiveness. New platform approaches such as extended detection and response (XDR), security service edge (SSE) and cloud native application protection platforms (CNAPP) are accelerating the benefits of converged solutions.

For example, Gartner predicts that by 2024, 30 percent of enterprises will adopt cloud-delivered secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), zero trust network access (ZTNA) and branch office firewall as a service (FWaaS) capabilities from the same vendor. Consolidation of security functions will lower total cost of ownership and improve operational efficiency in the long term, leading to better overall security.

Trend 7: Cyber security Mesh

The security product consolidation trend is driving integration of security architecture components. However, there is still a need to define consistent security policies, enable workflows and exchange data between consolidated solutions. A cyber security mesh architecture (CSMA) helps provide a common, integrated security structure and posture to secure all assets, whether they’re on-premises, in data centers / centres or in the cloud.

“Gartner’s top cyber security trends don’t exist in isolation; they build on and reinforce one another,” said Firstbrook. “Taken together, they will help CISOs evolve their roles to meet future security and risk management challenges and continue elevating their standing within their organizations.”

Gartner clients can learn more in the report Top Trends in Cybersecurity 2022. Learn about the top priorities for security leaders in 2022 in the 2022 Leadership Vision for Security & Risk Management Leaders.