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451 Research: Top 5 information security trends in 2016 and beyond

Christopher Null, Freelance writer

2016 is set to be another big year for tech innovation. The market continues to expand in unconventional directions (think self-driving cars and the Internet of Things), which is leading to growing challenges in the world of information security, including what is arguably the most important challenge of all: sourcing expertise.

For example, while the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says that the number of breached data records declined in 2015, the severity of those breaches was much worse, with more extensive personal information than ever before being accessed.

As information technology experiences a transformation, tech companies are realizing that throwing more money at the security problem that has come along with it has not been the most viable solution. Education will become a priority in 2016 and beyond, and companies will have to face the fact that a small number of poorly trained security staffers are not going to be able to combat the challenges effectively.

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5 highlights from 451 Research's 2016 Trends in Information Security

How will information security shape up in 2016 and beyond? Here are five trends that tech research firm 451 Research says we’ll need to keep on top of, taken from its recent 2016 Trends in Information Security report.

1. Security veterans: Adapt or die

Despite years of spending on security, attacks and breaches have continued largely unabated, which has organizations rethinking their reliance on traditional security strategies and tactics. More organizations are now embracing new security methodologies, with the upshot being that market incumbents could be put in jeopardy unless they adjust and capitalize on the emerging trends.

“The largest vendors are the public companies that have a portfolio of full-suite offerings across multiple security segments. In fact, they make up the lion’s share of the market. But there are hundreds of smaller vendors that may be good alternatives for organizations looking to place their bets on achieving more effective security,” says Scott Crawford, a former IBM security strategist who is now research director for security at 451 Research.

2. Security innovation will speed up and disrupt

“Many organizations already have a pretty substantial investment in two areas: endpoint security and network security," says Crawford. "We have already begun to see disruptions in network security through malware detection and network sandboxing. Now, we are starting to see the same thing in the endpoint space for the same reasons, impacting areas like firewall intrusion detection and malware detection. The traditional antivirus vendors have now been called into question.”

Crawford adds, “A number of vendors are coming to market with post antivirus approaches, which looks at threat activity at the endpoint to help better understand the nature of attacks and give investigators detailed insights about how organizations are being targeted.”

The bottom line: The new security leaders will be the vendors that realize that software security goes beyond mere application testing.

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3. Cloud security continues to rise in importance

Could this be the year that security veterans finally take a serious step toward helping clients secure cloud resources? Recent activity has revealed that cloud security is one of the main areas where mainstream security vendors are innovating new approaches to the problem with an emphasis on security analytics rather than just attack prevention.

More than any other security technology, cloud security is evolving at a rapid pace. While startups have dominated the market to date, several seasoned security vendors, including Microsoft and IBM, are muscling in on this area. For example, Microsoft acquired Adallom, an Israel-based cloud application control (CAC) vendor, for a reported $250 million. Meanwhile, IBM entered the CAC market with its own product, offering a combination of SaaS app discovery, coarse-grained app control, single sign-on, and threat protection.

Cloud security is becoming increasingly important, but to remain relevant and competitive, cloud security vendors will need to expand their product offerings to capture more than just sales opportunities.

4. Trained security talent is lacking, with no solution in sight

Managed security services will grow in importance provided they can offer products that work without large teams of trained professionals to operate them. Today, managed security services require significant oversight, but small to midsize companies that have either a small or no dedicated security staff will not be able to use the products effectively. In fact, while the volume of security alerts is increasing dramatically, almost 25 percent of small businesses have no one on staff dedicated to information security.

“The opportunity for the service provider is the security talent crunch. It is still hard to get qualified and experienced security talent,” says Crawford. “There is no shortage of interest among people who want to go into information security as a profession, but it will take more than being entry level to take on some of these more challenging aspects of security management. Until professionals build that level of expertise, companies need to have alternatives available.”

All told, there is an urgent need for security experts, but companies that can develop products that assist enterprises without any significant security expertise on hand are most likely to succeed.

5. Service-based delivery will usher in new opportunities

“Managed security service providers have historically been called upon to outsource security infrastructure and monitoring services like intrusion detection and prevention," Crawford says. "But we see increased interest in focused services. For example, Vigilant (now part of Deloitte) had to put the focus on security information event management to guide the customer in adopting best practices and making the most of their SIEM investment. We will likely see more service providers taking opportunities to specialize in specific areas like this.”

In other words, as general applications have moved to the cloud, so must security. Products that integrate with existing cloud platforms will be key in 2016, and vendors that fail to adapt traditional products for the SaaS market are likely to be left by the wayside.

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