Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

10 Sea-Changing IT Security Trends Of The Last 10 Years

A look at ten of the megatrends that have shaped IT security -- and in some cases, enterprise business -- over the last decade.

When it comes to IT security, the old saw says, the only constant is change. As Dark Reading looks back over the ten years since its launch in 2006, that maxim seems more accurate than ever.

Like generals fighting a losing battle, security thought leaders and professionals have been forced to change strategies many time over the last decade, often in response to technological and strategic advancements developed by the attackers. While IT itself has evolved quickly, the pace of new security threats has continued to move at even faster speeds, often leaving defenders in firefights that change almost daily. And defense strategies that were once fundamental to the security industry are now being constantly challenged – if not outright rejected -- by the thinkers who once promoted them.

In this feature, we take a look at some of the fundamental sea changes that have occurred over the last 10 years. Perhaps a look at where we’ve been will give us a hint at where we’re going – or at least prepare us for more change in the future.

From Sentries To Detectives

Ten years ago, IT security professionals were often seen as the guards at the gate – the people who were responsible for protecting corporate data and preventing cyber criminals from gaining access to enterprise systems. There was a perception of a defensible "perimeter” for each organization, and a relatively stable set of end user technologies to secure.

Today, the majority of security technologies and strategies assume that the enterprise has already been compromised. There is a heavy emphasis on the use of data forensics to ferret out sophisticated exploits hiding in the infrastructure, as well as incident response tools to detect and remediate compromises as soon as possible. Enterprises’ broader shift to technologies that are outside the IT department’s span of control – including cloud services and user-owned mobile devices – has virtually shattered the perimeter defense concept and forced the security team to spend most of its time searching for threats that have already penetrated the organizational walls.

The Shrinking Skills Pool

In 2006, a significant portion of the security team could be described as system administrators who spent much of their time onboarding new users, maintaining simple access controls, and administering passwords. While there were plenty of security thinkers and strategy architects, the demands on the average security pro were mostly around policy management and internal system defense – and while hiring was not easy, it was often possible to bring in an entry-level system administrator and teach them what they needed to know about more sophisticated threats and defenses over time.

Over the past decade, however, the rapid evolution of online threats – and the negative publicity received by companies that were breached – has generated a nearly-insatiable demand for more IT security talent. Not only does the industry need more bodies – some estimates say that as many as 1.5 million new security jobs will be created over the next five years – but the skills requirement has increased, as enterprises do less simple systems administration and more post-compromise analysis of incoming threats. If current trends are any indication, IT security will continue to remain a negative-unemployment industry for many years to come, and the most skilled people will generate the greatest demand.

The Erosion Of Layered Security

For many of the last ten years, IT security lived and died by the philosophy of "layered security," which holds that an enterprise’s best defense is to challenge the attacker with an array of different defenses – firewalls, antivirus, intrusion detection/prevention, encryption, authentication, and many more – in an effort to discourage all but the most determined attackers. This strategy, sometimes called "defense in depth," encouraged enterprises to purchase and implement a wide variety of security tools and practices, making it difficult for any single-vectored attack to get through.

However, after ten years of buying and deploying new security technologies and breaking new IT security spending records year after year, most security experts are beginning to wonder if the layered security philosophy is the best approach. The incidence and cost of data breaches continue to increase, and some business executives have begun to balk at the notion of continually increasing spending on technology and people without any guarantee of data security. Many enterprises and security experts are rethinking some of the basic precepts of IT security, though a clear new philosophy has yet to emerge.

Cybercrime Boom

In 2006, many security strategies were still predicated on the proliferation of viruses and worms such as Love and Code Red, which were designed to infect as many machines as possible and to gain notoriety for their creators. In some quarters, there was still a perception of hackers as teenagers working late at night in their basements, seeking approval from others online.

In fact, by 2006 the cybercrime market had already begun a massive shift toward an organized, underground economy that has continued to grow and flourish over the past decade. Malware developers create and sell their exploits in online forums -- and support their products with upgrades, patches, and even 24-hour customer service. Criminals can rent botnets by the hour, or purchase long lists of valid credit cards at less than a dollar apiece. Recent estimates project that cybercrime costs will reach $2 trillion by 2019, and some law enforcement agencies say organized crime syndicates now make more money from cybercrime than from drugs or prostitution. Clearly, cybercrime is more lucrative than ever – and that trend bodes poorly for tomorrow’s IT security defenders.

Security Goes Public

When Dark Reading was launched in 2006, it carried only a few stories about security breaches, partly because laws requiring companies to disclose such breaches were only just going into effect. With the passage of breach disclosure laws in California – and subsequently, 47 other states – the extent of the cybersecurity problem became increasingly evident. The Identity Theft 

(Continued on Page 2) 

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
ChrisHarget
50%
50%
ChrisHarget,
User Rank: Author
6/1/2016 | 6:17:52 PM
What's Next? Machine Learning, Anyone?
A number of startups are trying to find ways to let machines look at internal user behavior, create statistical norms for what is typical, then highlight or escalate abnormal behavior that might be a breach. If you have 100 employees with the same job title, but only one of them is storing gigabytes of data in a cloud drive, that might merit the attention of a security analyst.

 

This is still very early days, and one can imagine all manner of places it won't work (what if you only have 2 employees with a particular job title?), but if it's even useful 1/4th the time in a large organization, that might still be a big step forward for accelerating early detection.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 6/1/2020
Stay-at-Home Orders Coincide With Massive DNS Surge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/27/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: "Well I dont run on MacOS, so I need to take extra precautions"
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-3641
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-02
Integer overflow may occur if atom size is less than atom offset as there is improper validation of atom size in Snapdragon Auto, Snapdragon Compute, Snapdragon Consumer IOT, Snapdragon Industrial IOT, Snapdragon Mobile, Snapdragon Voice & Music, Snapdragon Wearables in APQ8009, APQ8053, APQ8096...
CVE-2020-3645
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-02
Firmware will hit assert in WLAN firmware If encrypted data length in FILS IE of reassoc response is more than 528 bytes in Snapdragon Compute, Snapdragon Connectivity, Snapdragon Consumer Electronics Connectivity, Snapdragon Consumer IOT, Snapdragon Industrial IOT, Snapdragon Mobile, Snapdragon Voi...
CVE-2020-3680
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-02
A race condition can occur when using the fastrpc memory mapping API. in Snapdragon Auto, Snapdragon Compute, Snapdragon Consumer IOT, Snapdragon Industrial IOT, Snapdragon Mobile, Snapdragon Wearables in APQ8009, APQ8053, MSM8909W, MSM8917, MSM8953, QCS605, QM215, SA415M, SDM429, SDM429W, SDM439, S...
CVE-2020-3610
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-02
Possibility of double free of the drawobj that is added to the drawqueue array of the context during IOCTL commands as there is no refcount taken for this object in Snapdragon Auto, Snapdragon Compute, Snapdragon Consumer Electronics Connectivity, Snapdragon Consumer IOT, Snapdragon Industrial IOT, ...
CVE-2020-3615
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-02
Valid deauth/disassoc frames is dropped in case if RMF is enabled and some rouge peer keep on sending rogue deauth/disassoc frames due to improper enum values used to check the frame subtype in Snapdragon Auto, Snapdragon Compute, Snapdragon Consumer Electronics Connectivity, Snapdragon Consumer IOT...