Depending on how you look at it, security has thus far had another stellar year in terms of visibility across industry and society, criticality to business, and busyness for IT and security professionals. Still, we’re constantly behind the eight ball when it comes to visibility and control, the two pillars of security that no one seems to have mastered.

Cybersecurity Trends in 2017: The Big Picture

We’ve seen a lot of challenges related to malware thus far in 2017, namely the WannaCry and Petya outbreaks. But the problems go far beyond those two attacks: According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Chronology of Data Breaches, there have been 301 known breaches exposing 5,338,608 sensitive records so far this year. Of those breaches, 166 were related to hacking and malware. With all that’s going on, what’s in store for the rest of 2017?

Looking at the bigger picture, I see IT, security and business professionals squabbling over things such as:

  • When they’re going to get enough budget to procure that network security technology they wanted (and needed) five years ago that may or may not still be relevant;
  • When they’re going to actually implement the shelfware security system they paid good money for last year;
  • Whether they feel comfortable letting their security consultants and auditors have authenticated access to their network or application environments to fully vet the systems for security flaws; and
  • What changes they’re going to make to their security documentation that no one else knows or cares about.

In too many situations, there’s no real security leadership, which means that decisions are not being made. Security is not being tended to like it needs to be.

What to Expect in the Second Half of 2017

As for the rest of 2017, I think the story will remain the same: Malware, lost or exposed records, and perhaps another big distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack are on tap. History will repeat itself for yet another year.

Attack vectors will evolve through mediums such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and mobile. Network complexity will grow for the same reasons, perpetuating the challenges we face. We’ll also see more innovation when it comes to security solutions. Technologies such as machine learning-based analytics and threat hunting will help analysts address security challenges more proactively. I believe this innovation will pave the way to the next iteration of risk mitigation.

Still, I go back to my career-long assertion that unless and until security professionals master the basics, they’ll continue to suffer at the hands of cybercriminals. No technology can fix careless oversights involving patches, passwords and information management. Not in 2017, not in 2027, not ever. Spending money and busywork will no doubt make it look like things are happening, but when you’re not focusing on the right target, anything can and will happen. That’s not a risk you should toy with.

Listen to the podcast: From Cyber-Clumsy to Cybercrime — Why Businesses Underinvest in Cybersecurity

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