What does 2017 hold? FireMon's top minds look into the crystal ball (Part 1)

As we come up to the New Year, we approached a number of FireMon’s top minds for their perspectives on what lies ahead for 2017 in terms of the threat horizon and how the enterprise will have to respond.

The Employee at the Center of Compromise

While 2015 was the year the data breach became commonplace, 2016 revealed the value of the CISO. According to FireMon’s CTO, Paul Calatayud, 2017 will be the year of the employee.

“When I say an employee, I mean that in multiple ways,” he said. “Cyber attacks are shifting towards targeting internal employees as cyber defenses are built up, and it becomes more difficult for attackers to attack machines.

“CISOs will need to ensure they renew focus on basic security strategies such as employee awareness. They will also need to go beyond by developing defense and detection strategies in support of insider threats.”

Josh Mayfield, Immediate Insight Solutions, FireMon, agreed, noting that in large enterprises with so many users accessing so many systems, neglect is a natural byproduct – we are all human after all. He said, “It’s not laziness, but simply a human function to neglect what isn’t apparent. This neglect leads to compromise.

“Intentional malice from insiders, though small, can be asymmetrically catastrophic – they only have to be right once,” he continued. “Internal users can compromise a system and can be motivated by an entire spectrum of reasons, and that motivation can never be fully known ahead of time. Red teaming is essential. Getting “in the head” of a perpetrator and following their varied paths will be an instrumental practice more organizations will adopt.”

Skills Shortage Continues to Rise

According to Calatayud, it’s also important for 2017 to acknowledge the lack of cyber skills that employees currently have.

“Cyber personnel will become a rare commodity like we have never seen before. Organizations have received the message, and are staffing and investing, but that demand generates a supply that is not available. As an alternative, there will be new and exciting innovations and adoption of philosophies such as DEV-SEC-OPS. This is simply the act of developing automation where possible within a cyber program in order to free up staff resources,” Paul continued.

More Connectivity, More Risk

For FireMon’s CFO, Donald Klumb, the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to evolve as a major threat to businesses, particularly in light of the millions of Mirai IoT malware infections that took place in the later part of 2016. “IoT represents networks of devices enabling and offering services and as a result, will lead to further attacks on privacy and elevated risk and exposure,” he said.

Klumb also sees the cloud as a potential source of risk as “security surrounding many cloud migrations is often lagging and thus enterprises will experience elevated security risks operating in an enhanced virtual environment.”

As a result, “Companies will look for new third party alternatives to ensure secure access to and between cloud-based applications and services,” according to Peter Kobs, Chief Revenue Officer.

Stuart Rosenfield, FireMon’s director of product marketing agrees with Donald and Peter on both fronts, saying, “The increased adoption of new enterprise architectures such as SDN and cloud, coupled with new technologies such as IoT, will require IT security personnel to think more strategically than tactically in implementing new security management solutions.”

To conclude, Calatayud surmised that company board members will begin to bring on cyber security experience in a more meaningful manner.

“The biggest risks for business heading into 2017 in regards to cloud adoption and security will be how best to manage the risks as organizations increase their adoption from basic non-regulated data to more regulated data,” he said. “This will put a lot of pressure on CISOs and security shops to move off the ‘wait and see’ and into response mode.”

This response mode will be discussed in more detail in the next part of this blog series. Check back to see more of what’s in store for cyber security in 2017.