Gartner: Cloud computing, mobile ushering in "major shift" for enterprise security practices

Analysts say vendors, service providers and value-added resellers are starting to feel the volatility of market changes wrought by the rise of cloud-computing services

Gartner has said what it expects to be the top security trends for 2013, citing the rise of cloud computing, social media and employees bringing their own devices to work as among the forces likely to produce radical changes in how enterprises manage IT security. The market research firm also says the "major shift" expected in IT security in 2013 will shake up established IT security vendors as newer players in cloud and mobile challenge them.

RELATED: Cloud security to be most disruptive technology of 2013

Earl Perkins, Gartner research vice president, said during a webinar with clients that the forces cited above, as well as an "information explosion" in the enterprise, are putting enormous pressure on enterprise IT professionals and vendors by "making some of the existing IT infrastructures obsolete." He added: "Will the major providers of security technology be the same ones in three to five years? The answer is probably not."

Perkins said Gartner analysts believe the vendors, service providers and value-added resellers of today are starting to feel the volatility of market changes wrought by the rise of cloud-computing services and new practices such as enterprises adopting smartphones and other mobile devices, and allowing employees to use their own at work. A large IT security firm such as Symantec, although certainly "aware and making changes" due to the growing importance of cloud and mobile, said Perkins, is nonetheless under pressure from many smaller companies that are "nimble" in introducing new technologies.

Mobile and BYOD "challenge the fundamental principles by which we deliver applications," to users and protect user data, said Perkins. It means "consumer identities" will need to be tied to "corporate identities" in terms of authentication, authorization and other identity access and management functions. There will be pressure to "manage diversity" in this, he added. And when it comes to access to cloud-based services, the goal will be to find ways for introducing cloud-based access and authentication so users will "enjoy" these services "adequately and securely" in what may be a hybrid-cloud environment with the enterprise network.

Ricoh CIO explains why he let 9,000 employees go BYOD.

Gartner thinks these forces in motion in 2013 mean the time has come to embrace new ideas about security policy. And Perkins said one such idea is that of "people-centric security" that Gartner says holds each person more responsible for security but in which enterprise IT security staff and the business managers "will respond quickly" if people who are trusted appear to have "abrogated" their responsibilities for data security or unduly challenge requirements put upon them.

It will involve monitoring and educating end-users, Gartner points out. And if this trust-based approach is adopted, it will need to be enforced. That means "swift punishment for people who violate that trust," especially when it comes to mobile BYOD, not with just one "big stick" approach but with "sticks of various sizes" commensurate with risk, Perkins added.

Perkins also said the time has also come to acknowledge there's no such thing as "perfect protection" and that the expense of providing security has to be more commensurate with business risk. That means the dialog between IT and the business user about what security is and what "appropriate risk" levels are has to be undertaken in earnest in 2013. Business people are not really interested in operational metrics of IT, such as how effective patching is, Perkins noted. Their idea of metrics involves factors such as effective, secure collaboration with supply-chain partners and the focus should be to those ends.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail: emessmer@nww.com.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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