Security: where do we go from here?
2018 was another busy year in the security industry. It was a true privilege to help our customers maintain and improve security throughout their organizations.
But now the time has come to look forward to another 365 days of interesting times. Information Security just simply never disappoints. Let’s see where we are coming from and where we think we’re headed.
Processors and their flaws
It was a little bit of a surprise to most of us, but 2018 started off with a blast. Several high impact vulnerabilities were discovered in widely used CPUs and organizations had to move at an incredible speed to get a large number of patches deployed. On a good note, we discovered that most of our clients used their standard patch management processes with great success.
These events reminded us of the fact that security doesn’t live in a vacuum. We do not only take applications, operating systems or hardware into account when we make risk decisions. We have to see all the components as a whole and examine how they interact with each other. We’re relatively confident that 2019 will give us new – and maybe stronger – reminders of this vision and therefore, we are ready to act, and help you out once again.
Data Privacy and how it is regulated
2018 will, without a doubt, always be remembered as the year that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force. For most of our customers, being conscious about data privacy wasn’t something new. In many cases this meant building a framework around the data and track the processes. One thing we feel is important to remember is that a regulation or a compliance framework doesn’t fix the problem. It does provide us with clear rules that we can follow to minimize the impact of privacy-related events.
What we look forward to in 2019 is a compliance framework in which we can compare the work we’ve already done until then. It’s true, we have all used the existing regulation and guidance from national privacy controllers but we do not have compliance until there is a set of well-defined and commonly accepted rules as part of a standard that allows us to test ourselves. We’re hopeful that this will become a reality in 2019. In the meantime, we should surely continue to fine tune our processes, look at their outcomes, and adjust where necessary.
The future of monitoring
It does not need reiterating that the systems that support our businesses have grown more complex. It also goes without saying that these systems have become very important to our companies. Systems generate more data than ever as they are trying to inform us of their operational state. Because of their complexity, interpreting that data and acting on it has continued to become more and more critical and complex.
Whether systems are running in our data centers or in the cloud, we need to have a continuous view on how they are performing and how secure they are. 2018 has shown us, again, how difficult it is to detect adverse events. At the same time we have been reminded that having as much visibility as possible into the behavior of systems, networks, and applications helps all aspects of systems management, including security.
We are seeing a strong push towards what is commonly called “Observability”. Instead of creating static rules for atomic events we start to define boundaries that describe how our systems behave in a normal state based on available data. Any anomaly that crosses a defined boundary triggers an investigation into the available data. Using this relatively new approach, we can react much faster to both operational and security incidents. The most important part here is to build, or re-design, system components to share their data in a structured way.
Building Security In
This is not new either. Organizations all over the world have been working hard to make legacy systems as secure as possible. In many cases this has resulted in building controls on top of controls on top of systems that weren’t designed with the current risk landscape in mind. At the same time we have witnessed large investments into the education of technical personnel responsible for these systems. With that newly acquired knowledge, we are now seeing systems being rolled out where security requirements were just as important as functional requirements.
As we see security become an essential part of Computer Science curriculums in schools as well as a part of the requirements for professionals all across the IT spectrum, we are encouraged that systems and the businesses they support will continue to benefit from that knowledge.
Collaboration is the key to success
SpotIT consultants wouldn’t be able to maintain the high quality of work they deliver on a daily basis if they weren’t exposed to a variety of organizations in different verticals or if they didn’t have access to both training and the knowledge of their colleagues. Building this experience and insight into how information security contributes to organizational success in very different ways is essential.
It's important for us to work together in teams with each other and with our customers. We look forward to continuing this in 2019.
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