Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

How to manage information security during an innovation void

Advice for infosec executives on turning possible crisis into an opportunity

Article comments

Although predictions for the coming year are a staple of the season, I will do more than offer an educated guess. I am going on the record with a guarantee: in 2012 we will see an increase in network intrusions from disparate parties trying to create IT infrastructure chaos for a variety of reasons primarily political, financial and economic. An easy prediction perhaps given the trend and yet while I fully trust CSOs and CISOs and security teams are doing all they can to prevent breaches; I am deeply concerned that they still lack the technology to adequately protect IT infrastructure from malicious attacks.

There are several reasons for this state of unpreparedness. Budget constraints certainly continue to be an issue even as the US economy plods along in recovery mode. However, the more disconcerting limiting factor is beyond the direct control of infosec executives: the scarcity of innovation in the information security industry.

Too few entrepreneurs are bringing to market new technologies that are the core building blocks for information security. While I wouldn't go so far as the say enterprises are bringing a knife to a gun fight, there is no doubt that the industry is not keeping pace with the technology or the ability of attackers. The resulting disparity between available options and the growing challenges faced is what I call the innovation void.

Related Articles on Techworld

Four factors created the innovation void: Cuts, constraints, consolidation and capital:

Cuts

IT spending cuts during the Great Recession were deep and have yet to recover. US Software CAPEX growth was just 7% as of Q2 2011, exactly where it was 20 years ago. Spending is off the lows of 2008 and 2009 but show only modest gains - especially given those lows, is 7% growth really all that impressive? Many software vendors have been unable or unwilling to invest in R&D in this climate. The downstream effect is a dearth of truly new technologies. I suspect this will change as the domestic and worldwide economies - which are now clearly and highly-correlated - improve. In the meantime, enterprise customers can anticipate only minor improvements to infosec solutions.

Constraints

The challenge of spending cuts not only affects companies that sell information security software. The innovation void leaves CISOs, CSOs and their teams navigating increasingly complex and treacherous environments. The explosive increase in the use of employee-owned consumer technologies within the workplace - especially mobile technology, e.g. smartphones, iPhone, iPad, iWhatever - means information security professionals have to protect a broader plane of vulnerability, and do so with fewer resources.

Consolidation

Acquisitions of independent information security technology vendors by multinational information technology conglomerates often dilutes focus, changes business priorities and slows operational tempo of the acquired companies.

Capital

The final factor contributing to the innovation void is a lack of capital investment. According to The Moneytree Report by PwC and NVCA based on data from Thomson Reuters, venture capital investment in IT security in 2010 was just $400 million, up a tick from 2009 but the second lowest year since 1998. Absent adequate funding, research and development cannot happen and we run the risk of critical technology inventions never seeing the light of day. Venture capitalists seem more interested in the latest social media start-up than the IT security market. Ironically, popular social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are increasingly popular targets for black-hat hackers, exponentially increasing the need for information security innovators.

So how do we manage this situation and turn a possible crisis into an opportunity? The good news is that the innovation void is a very solvable problem. The solution begins by changing conventional approaches to vendor/customer relationships. Developing a real partnership in which both parties have a stake in mutual success is a critical first step. Information security professionals will have to think and act strategically, not just tactically. There are tremendous opportunities for vendors, startups and end users to thrive in this new environment.

So how do you do it? Some of the ways you can embrace the new reality include:

Be the investor! Stop looking for vendors and start looking for partners. Why wait to hear about the coolest thing when you can help create it and have a stake in its success? While the "cloud" may bring even more security problems, it also provides startups with an incredibly cheap and scalable resource for developing and supporting the innovations helping offset some of the reduced capital investment currently available.

Be the innovator! Look for ways to augment existing tools and make them run more efficiently. Innovation begins at home.

Be the stakeholder! Don't look for a quick fix, look for a solution. A leaky boat can be patched only so many times before a full-dry-dock rebuild is required. Too many companies look only to the current quarter as a success measure but security is a process, not a product. Getting senior management on board may be the biggest challenge.

The innovation void is real and it will grow in severity and pose a major threat to all of information security if we wait for others to correct the problem. There is no magic fix or killer app coming this time. We will overcome this issue only with creative thinking and true leadership. We need to look within our own ranks. The innovation void can be closed by information security professionals willing to seize the initiative.


Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments



Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *