Security leaders have cloud security, malicious hackers, and the Trump presidency at top of mind as they determine how to allocate security spend in 2017. Larger security budgets will go toward cloud, network, and data center security, and artificial intelligence in the coming year.
Scale Venture Partners polled 200 leaders in the US who oversee security buying decisions, success of security deployments, or overall business security. Its new report, "The State of Cybersecurity Priorities and Strategies 2017," includes top concerns and approaches for protecting organizations.
"Cloud security, which was nowhere to be seen as a priority maybe three years ago, has bubbled up as one of the top most widely invested areas in the last year," says Ariel Tseitlin, partner at Scale Venture Partners who oversees cloud and security investments.
Respondents say network security (68%), cloud security (60%), and data center/server security (60%) are the greatest areas of security tech investment this year. Tseitlin says it's "reassuring" to see cloud security grow as a priority as more businesses pursue cloud adoption.
"Today, we're squarely in this early majority phase of adoption of the public cloud," he explains. Not all cloud adopters are early adopters; many have become forward-leading cloud adopters, he notes.
However, the cloud is still new and growing, as are the means of securing it.
"Public cloud infrastructure is, by nature, much more dynamic and much more transient," says Tseitlin. "You need a different way of being able to handle it that you never had in the data center."
Malicious hackers are the top concern among security pros, even those who feel equipped to handle the risk. Nearly 60% think the threat level for data breaches will grow in the next year, more than any other threat. Nearly 75% allocate the most resources to data breach protection.
"Data theft tends to be the top worry" among companies fearing malicious hackers, says Tseitlin. Generally these threat actors are "malicious insiders or outsiders intent on stealing data and reselling for financial gain."
Customer databases, credit cards, and proprietary information tend to be the most coveted assets, he says.
Geopolitical worries are also top-of-mind. Nearly 40% of respondents plan to invest more in security tech post-election, and 44% plan to evolve security strategy and tech usage. Nearly half (48%) have changed their perspective on security threats in the current presidential administration, and 27% plan to focus on foreign nation-state attacks.
"It's one degree of difficulty to protect yourself from everyday criminal groups, but a higher level of sophistication to defend from state-sponsored attacks," Tseitlin says.
Leaders are looking to automation as they reevaluate their security operations and network operations centers. In the past two years, 75% have bought security automation tools. Nearly half (47%) plan to invest more in automation throughout the next year as a lack of skilled security analysts impedes their ability to manage the increase in security systems.
The role of artificial intelligence in security is also a hot topic for the year ahead, says Tseitlin, who speaks to the potential of AI. In the past two years, 47% of respondents have introduced AI-powered security solutions, and 75% of those using AI say it has helped address threats.
Researchers found there is opportunity for new security vendors to enter the market and current vendors to build new offerings. More than half (53%) of businesses are building in-house tools to fight threats like data breaches and malware because they don't see viable commercial alternatives.
It's worth noting that businesses tend to stick with the vendors they choose. Of the 62% of respondents who changed the allocation of security resources, only 17% reported changing vendors year-over-year.