A session at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo laid out security trends for the coming year.

ORLANDO -- Gartner Symposium/ITXpo -- Enterprise security is not immune to trends and the whims of fashion. Some trends are driven by external forces, like the ever-evolving threats from clever hackers, while others are driven from within the organization. At an opening-day session at Gartner Symposium, research director Brian Reed led a discussion that looked at both sorts of trends and tried to predict which will be critical for enterprise executives in 2018.

Research director Brian Reed leads a session on enterprise security priorities for 2018 at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

Research director Brian Reed leads a session on enterprise security priorities for 2018 at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

Reed began with a "meta-trend": Cybersecurity is no longer just about information. Users and devices are critical subjects for cybersecurity consideration, too. It seems like a simple, and even obvious, transition, but when the focus of cybersecurity broadens to include humans and physical devices (rather than simply bits and bytes) it means profound changes in security processes and the technologies used to implement them.

Next, he identified five major factors having an impact on all the trends to follow:

  • Cybersecurity skills continue to change and evolve.

  • Cloud security is becoming a top priority for many organizations.

  • There is a continuing shift away from protection and prevention only.

  • Security for applications and data centers is being led by development groups.

  • Digital ecosystems drive next-generation security.

All of these factors seem generally positive, but the trends flowing from them will be terrifying for many traditional IT security leaders. Why? Because a number of the trends have "less certainty" as their core quality. Reed said that the first trend to be aware of is that you simply can't fix everything. That's good, actually given that:

  • You can't secure everything -- networks and applications are simply too big and complex for every single asset to be made secure with any certainty.

  • You can't know how secure everything is -- see the last point for the reason. Really, the best you can do is know the status of your key, most valuable, assets.

  • You really can't know how secure your partners are -- if you thought that understanding your own security status was complicated, trying to get a realistic handle on all your partners is simply impossible.

Given all this, what's a rational security professional to do? The first thing, Reed said, is to focus on business outcomes. The focus on business outcomes has been a theme throughout the conference, but from Reed's perspective it sets the priorities and strategies for any successful security plan in the digital business age. As a result of this focus, security pros should become facilitators to help business units understand and take responsibility for the security of their data and processes.

Next, he said, professionals should automate as many security processes as possible, outsource whatever they can of the remainder, and be left with in-house manual security operations for as little of the security infrastructure as can be arranged. The goal is to have high-value, expensive in-house talent doing only those things that can't be done another way. Those things should, by rights, be the most business-critical parts of security.

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There were, of course, many other things said in the session, including a long segment on adaptive security infrastructures. Security Now will have more on that, and on other security points from Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in coming days. Until then, what do you think about these trends? Have you seen them at work in your own organization? We'll look forward to seeing your thoughts in the comments section.

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— Curtis Franklin is the editor of SecurityNow.com. Follow him on Twitter @kg4gwa.

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About the Author(s)

Curtis Franklin, Principal Analyst, Omdia

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Principal Analyst at Omdia, focusing on enterprise security management. Previously, he was senior editor of Dark Reading, editor of Light Reading's Security Now, and executive editor, technology, at InformationWeek, where he was also executive producer of InformationWeek's online radio and podcast episodes

Curtis has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. He has been on staff and contributed to technology-industry publications including BYTE, ComputerWorld, CEO, Enterprise Efficiency, ChannelWeb, Network Computing, InfoWorld, PCWorld, Dark Reading, and ITWorld.com on subjects ranging from mobile enterprise computing to enterprise security and wireless networking.

Curtis is the author of thousands of articles, the co-author of five books, and has been a frequent speaker at computer and networking industry conferences across North America and Europe. His most recent books, Cloud Computing: Technologies and Strategies of the Ubiquitous Data Center, and Securing the Cloud: Security Strategies for the Ubiquitous Data Center, with co-author Brian Chee, are published by Taylor and Francis.

When he's not writing, Curtis is a painter, photographer, cook, and multi-instrumentalist musician. He is active in running, amateur radio (KG4GWA), the MakerFX maker space in Orlando, FL, and is a certified Florida Master Naturalist.

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