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Perimeter

12/26/2012
04:59 PM
Mike Rothman
Mike Rothman
Commentary
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The Only Security Prediction That Matters

In this silly season of year-end predictions, we need to collectively revisit the only prediction that will matter next year

As we tie the bow around 2012 and take a breather before diving headlong into 2013, there are still plenty of folks willing to offer predictions for what we'll see in 2013. Most involve some kind of dire situation where attackers launch new attacks, defenders get caught flat-footed, and corporations lose data in record quantities. You know, the typical FUD prediction that circulates to keep security websites full, even when practitioners should be spending time with their families, not reading meaningless predictions.

Not that the folks making the predictions are wrong. I also believe attackers will launch new attacks, and many organizations will lose more data in 2013. Basically it has been that way every year since I started following the security market, and the coming year won't be any different. Will mobile malware finally become an issue? Will it continue to be operating-system issues? Will it be the cloud (whatever that means) as the main culprit of security fail? Does it really matter?

You can count on change. The attacks have changed. The attackers have changed. Yet their goal remains the same: to steal your stuff. And that will still be the case over the next 12 months. I'm going to go out on a limb and take a big risk by predicting that another set of vendors will have new must-have innovations that will swing the balance of power back to the attackers. Just ask them. In other words, there will be another batch of sweet-smelling snake oil in 2013, just as there is every year.

These new vendors, fueled by millions in VC money, will send out zillions of email messages making outlandish claims, buy tons of display ads, and show up at the conferences you attend. They will be selling you the 2013 version of the silver bullet. The technology will be climbing toward the "peak of inflated expectations" on the famous Gartner hype cycle, which means not enough people will have failed using the new widget to know it's not a silver bullet. So at long last, I'll make the only security prediction that matters for 2013.

There will be no security silver bullet.

I know, that's disappointing. You were probably thinking I had discovered security cold fusion and was ready to tell all on Dark Reading. That the long nights beating back attackers and days spent cleaning up the collective mess caused by your employees were over. That you'd no longer need to move between companies every two years because senior management cleans house in security when you get breached. Again and again and again.

Sorry, but there is no silver bullet. But there are a bunch of steps you can take in 2013. You can make progress in executing on your security program. You can push your endpoint protection vendors to deal with advanced malware in their products and not on their data sheets. You can vote with your dollars and decide to stop spending 80 percent on your security budget renewing products and services that don't work.

You can start consolidating your perimeter and decreasing the complexity of managing a closet full of deprecated firewall and IPS rules. You can continue climbing the stack and working with your application infrastructure folks as they continue rearchitecting how your organization delivers technology services. Yeah, I'm referring to the cloud word. You can get ahead of it now, rather than steamrolled by it later.

But most of all, you can keep fighting even though there is no silver bullet. Even though it seems you have to run faster and faster to stay in the same place. Despite the organizational headwinds, tight budgets, and serious skills gap you confront on a daily basis, you can keep moving forward. You should also have fun. You don't need a silver bullet to celebrate the small victories. It's those celebrations that keep you sane during the inevitable incidents.

And you know what? I predict that you will fight. Because that's what you do. That's what we do. And we'll do a lot more of it in 2013. Happy New Year, everybody!

Mike Rothman is President of Security and author of The Pragmatic CSO.

Mike's bold perspectives and irreverent style are invaluable as companies determine effective strategies to grapple with the dynamic security threatscape. Mike specializes in the sexy aspects of security, like protecting networks and endpoints, security management, and ... View Full Bio

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