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Is the information security industry having a midlife crisis?

Kacy Zurkus | July 2, 2015
Focusing on awesomeness and a plan B can help get InfoSec out of its slump.

midlife crisis

The information security industry is hot right now, but it's hot because it's failing. The daily announcements about breaches and lost data confirm that criminals are winning the security battle, but how can InfoSec reposition itself in order to win the war?

Last month, Tsion Gonen, chief strategy officer at SafeNet spoke at the CIO Summit in Boston hosted by CDM Media. His presentation, "InfoSec's Midlife Crisis & Your Future" opened with the blatant recognition that "We are totally failing."

The upside to the torrent of daily breach announcements is that the industry is in the spotlight. Everyone is racing to find the most innovative solution to the information security problem.

"Security is hot right now. It's hot because we're totally failing," said Gonen. "1800 cybersecurity startups were funded last year, and that's driven by total failure," Gonen continued.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, "Worldwide spending on information security was expected to reach $71.1 billion in 2014, with the data loss prevention segment recording the fastest growth at 18.9 percent, according to a forecast from Gartner. Total information security spending is expected to grow a further 8.2 percent in 2015 to reach $76.9 billion."

If the industry is failing, then why is so much money being spent?

"People are scared and they are buying stuff," said Gonen, "Good money after bad money."

The threats still exist and will be ever-changing, so the need for security solutions remains in high demand.

Because of the high demand, and the desire to protect their reputations, organizations are more willing to invest in solutions tools. As a result, security administrators need to focus on plan B. "Plan A has failed. InfoSec's premise, its plan A, has been to stop the loss of information and prevent unauthorized access. We have failed," Gonen said.

When firewalls came out in '95, it gave birth to the information security industry which focused on defending perimeters and breach prevention. Historically an organization had what Gonen called, "one Snowden--your database administrator (DBA), now there are potentially a lot more Snowdens from your virtualization manager to the cloud environment, SaaS. Everyone's a Snowden now."

What will plan B include?

To help organizations consider the different rooms that need to be safeguarded, Gonen said, "If I'm protecting my home from an intruder, where am I going to put the strongest defenses? It's not my laptop. It's my kids' rooms. You know where your kids' rooms are in your environment because that's where you put your DBA."

"Have a communications plan in place," said Gonen, "be able to answer the first two questions that people will want to know: What happened? What did they take?" One way to minimize what's lost in a breach is encrypting everything. "Encrypt and keep the key," said Gonen who used the example of a Zappos breach that resulted in stolen credit card information.


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