Top IT trends in 2018: cybersecurity
Matthew Gyde, Group Executive, Cybersecurity, shares his views on the top cybersecurity trends for 2018.
Trend 1: ‘Zero trust’ security is making a comeback
In 2018, we can expect to see significant disruption in the cybersecurity industry. Increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks are forcing organisations to turn to the zero trust security model.
With this approach, the IT team adopts a mindset of ‘we don’t trust anybody’. Only by explicitly allowing users to access systems can trust be established.
A decade ago, the ‘zero trust’ approach implied that the IT team could simply prohibit people from using non-corporate issued devices and applications. However, the more modern ‘zero trust’ model will accommodate individuals’ personal preferences.
However, it does mean that there’ll be more rigorous authentication measures in place requiring users to verify their identities through multiple layers of credentials. Enterprise systems will vigorously authenticate whether users are indeed entitled access to specific sets of data, before making them available.
To avoid bottlenecks and delays in getting tasks done, a cloud-based system can be implemented. This will enable a near-instantaneous authentication and verification process.
Re-examine policy and process
Organisations that embrace a ‘zero trust’ model will use it as an opportunity to re-examine their cybersecurity policies and processes. They’ll also increasingly turn to managed security services providers to augment their security monitoring and management capabilities. This will allow them to focus on deriving maximum value from their investments in security controls and resources, and ensure that they’re being applied appropriately and effectively.
Trend 2: Deception technologies become the security enablers of IoT and OT
Operational technology (OT) is increasingly enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) in industries such as automotive and manufacturing. But the sensors attached to OT devices are introducing a new element of cyber risk, and organisations are turning to deception technologies to raise their defences.
Most manufacturers aren’t considering security in the development phase of their products, and sensors are typically light-weight devices with minimal storage capacity, which makes embedding encryption chips into them unfeasible.
As a result, I predict that 2018 will see deception technologies playing a significant role in maintaining security across the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) control system architecture, OT, and wider IoT infrastructure.
How do deception technologies work?
Deception technologies introduce thousands of fake credentials onto an organisation’s network, which makes it mathematically impossible for cybercriminals to gain access to a legitimate set of user identities.
Once a cybercriminal has used a fake credential generated by deception technologies, the security operations team receives an alert that an unauthorised user is lurking on the network. They can then immediately initiate incident response.
Deception technologies also allow organisations to determine exactly how the cybercriminals gained access to the network, and to analyse their subsequent pattern of attack.
Trend 3: Behavioural analytics and artificial intelligence demand a relook at identity
Thanks to a technique known as ‘deep learning’, the next 12-months will see us take behavioural analytics and artificial intelligence to a new level.
With deep learning, rather than providing a machine with algorithms, you can enable it to learn by itself. The potential of this technology was recently demonstrated when Google took the decision to turn off its machine learning toolset. Through deep learning, the machines were educating themselves to the extent that they had begun to create a new language which system developers didn’t understand.
Using deep learning, machines will start undertaking highly granular analyses of users’ activities.
For example, by analysing my online behaviour over a period of time, machines will be able to predict whether or not the person attempting to access my data or applications is indeed me.
This provides organisations with an additional layer of defence over and above standard authentication methods.
In 2018, I expect to see more security vendors starting to integrate artificial intelligence into their products to improve their ability to detect cyberthreats in this manner.
Trend 4: Robo-hunters are the new norm
Most cybersecurity experts agree that it’s critical to have access to threat intelligence about the latest types of attacks and tactics. However, intelligence alone isn’t enough. Organisations must proactively ‘hunt down the enemy’.
In 2018, we’ll start seeing machines entering the enterprise. It’ll be the kind that my colleague, Mark Thomas, Dimension Data’s Group Cybersecurity Strategist, dubbed ‘robo-hunters’.
Essentially, robo-hunters are automated threat-seekers that can make decisions on behalf of humans. Enabled by artificial intelligence, they continuously scan an organisation’s environment for any changes that might indicate a potential threat.
They learn from what they discover and then take appropriate action, for example, by isolating a bad packet or compromised device.
I believe that the rise of robo-hunters will enable more businesses to move from a proactive to a predictive security posture. Many of our clients have invested in threat hunting personnel and capabilities and Dimension Data is already offering it as a service. Those organisations leading the charge are starting to look at ways to automate threat hunting cycles and are conducting retrospective analysis to identify patterns in historical incursions.
Trend 5: Blockchain is the disruptor
The opportunities and applications of Blockchain in the world of cybersecurity are only just emerging. It has significant potential to allow organisations to boost cybersecurity around user authentication and identity and access management.
Blockchain allows a digital ledger of transactions to be created and shared among participants via a distributed network of computers. The system is highly accessible and transparent to all participants ─ all transactions are publicly visible.
This means it’s possible for businesses to make Blockchain ‘corporately visible’ within their organisation so that they can see every transaction that takes place.
The Blockchain ledger can detect suspicious online behaviour and isolate the connection, giving the user restricted access until the transactions have been sanctioned by system administrators or the IT security team.
Essentially, Blockchain becomes the implementer of the ‘zero trust’ policy I mentioned earlier.
It also holds potential to assist in forensic investigations. For example, an organisation that had confidential intellectual property stolen can take their immutable ledger to court and prove that an unauthorised person extracted or copied a set of data.
There are other uses for Blockchain in the realm of cybersecurity that I believe will emerge in 2018. It’s already being used in public key infrastructure (cryptography used to secure emails, websites, and messaging applications). It provides better security by replacing a central database with a distributed ledger of domains and related public keys.
Read more about Dimension Data's 2018 predictions below:
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