What are the priorities for CISOs in 2019?

ciso-priorities

Well, 2018 is a wrap and another year is behind us — and what a big year it was for cybersecurity. There have been numerous high-profile breaches, regulatory fines, and fascinating developments in how enterprises build and deploy their applications. And, more broadly, business transformation efforts have accelerated the speed of business change. It’ll be everything CISOs can do to keep up.

CISOs that want to avoid sanctions, fines, or worse — being named in a breach headline — are taking the steps they see as necessary to adequately secure their environments.

That’s no small challenge. In my conversations with CISOs over the past couple of months, a handful of trends emerged when I asked them to share their priorities in the year ahead.

Here’s a roundup of those priorities:

Work on closing their skills gap

Each of the CISOs with whom I spoke cited the difficulty they have in finding the talent they need. The pool for the security skills they need is tight and competitive — whether it’s for experienced workers in application security, those who understand how to secure continuous delivery pipelines, or those with expertise designing and implementing complex cloud security strategies. Filling that skills gap has been a top priority for CISOs for years now. This year won’t be any different.

Automate what can be automated

Many enterprises are in the midst of their digital transformation efforts, streamlining their development pipelines, and digitizing as many business workflows as they can. There’s only one-way security teams can hope to keep up: automate as many security practices as possible. As for what can’t be automated, many CISOs are going to consider outsourcing so that in-house security teams can focus on what matters most specifically to their organization.

Get a better handle on identity management

As the speed of business change increases, and the number of apps and cloud services in use increases accordingly, getting identity management right will matter more than ever. Employees need to be provisioned quickly when they join, and as their roles change their access privileges must also change with it. Getting identity right helps the business move quickly, but it also increases security. Many CISOs plan to take action to bring a higher level of maturity to their organization’s identity and access management in the areas of stronger authentication, improved privileged account management, and better management of unsanctioned cloud services.

Look out for the bots

The bots are coming. Next year, more enterprises are turning to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to help them automate everything from customer service functions to cloud management. And more enterprises will be automating low risk, highly repetitive tasks. According to Grand View Research, the global RPA market size was only $199 million in 2016, but it is growing 60 percent annually.

These bots will be interacting with customers, collecting data, and perhaps conducting transactions or even helping to manage IT infrastructure. Some of these data and processes will involve sensitive information or regulated data, so it’s crucial that these bots be secured. A number of CISOs will be focusing on ensuring that they are governing these bots properly. That will include assigning them manageable identities so they can be onboarded, managed, and deprovisioned. They’ll be monitoring how the bots interact and keeping tabs on their logs.

Hybrid cloud security strategy

While most enterprises didn’t plan it this way, they’ve ended up with a slew of different cloud services to manage. They have various infrastructure services, probably dozens of software services, and a number of cloud platform services. The result is that most users are storing more of their data in the cloud and using cloud apps and services from a handful of different endpoints.

CISOs will be focused on training more of security staff and application owners on how to be effective with the native tools provided by cloud services providers, more closely monitor what new cloud services come online, and manage those services within the IT and security departments. That will include protecting the cloud services access with identity and access management, encrypting the data, and monitoring how these systems are used.

 

Of course, other areas came up in my conversations, including improving the ability to identify compromises in their environments, and shorten the time necessary to investigate and remediate those compromises. Another area is developing strategies to better secure unstructured data. The research firm Gartner estimates that 80 percent of all enterprise data today is unstructured,  stored as standalone files. Securing this data is essential to protecting important intellectual property and maintaining regulatory compliance.

Those are the priorities I’ve been hearing. Of course, every enterprise is different, so I’d be interested in hearing your security priorities.

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