Gartner: Top trends in IT security technology

Gartner predicts rise of "digital risk officer" to protect the "digital business"

Gartner has kicked off its annual Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland, by pointing to the top threat challenges heading into next year -- and added that in the future, the term IT security will give way to "digital security" to encompass newer challenges, such as the Internet of Things.

+More on Network World: Gartner: 7 major trends forcing IT security pros to change | Gartner: The Top 10 IT altering predictions for 2014 | Gartner: Top 10 future strategic IT predictions+

Because of trends such as "Bring Your Own Device" for employees with smartphones and tablets and the Internet of Things (IoT) in which a wide range of industrial and consumer products are expected to be networked in ways not known before, the IT security practices that might be defined today by the chief information security officer (CISO) will have to be expanded. That expansion, according to Gartner analysts, will lead to the yet more complex corporate job as the "digital risk officer" who will have to figure out and define the risks associated with any "digital innovation" the business undertakes.

By 2017, one third of large enterprises engaging in business will have a "digital risk officer" or the equivalent, said Gartner analyst Paul Proctor, acknowledging there are few of them today. The role of the digital risk officer will be to assess every aspect of digital connectivity, including any put in place through IoT efforts, in order to ensure that security protections can scale into the millions if necessary. Any digital innovation will be subject to review by the digital risk officer, who is expected to have oversight over traditional tasks the CISO performed, such as enterprise network security and compliance.

Gartner also put forward its "top trends" for security for the digital business. Gartner defines digital business as "the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical world." According to Gartner analyst Earl Perkins, a digital business or organization "must be digitizing their physical assets as well as virtual assets such as data and business processes. The digital risk officer will be tasked with both physical and information security, including IoT.

This means security now is "at an inflection point," he said, adding IoT security is "an area you are about to be hit with in security you didn't know was coming." It calls for working on a major scale not encountered before outside the traditional assumptions related to perimeter firewalls.

In short, Gartner's list of Top Digital Security trends is:

  • Software-Defined Security
  • Big data security Analytics
  • Intelligent / Context-aware security Analytics
  • Application isolation
  • Endpoint threat detection & response
  • Website protection
  • Adaptive access
  • People-centric security
  • Securing the Internet of Things

While none of these is entirely new, of course, Gartner emphasized that mobile and cloud-based computing will present many of the main challenges. But Perkins also said modern malware concerns related to mobile devices have not yet become anywhere as big a problem as seen in PCs, for example. But Gartner this year is applying a new push toward "people-centric security" in which security managers take the approach of training of end users in best practices to minimize risk.

The Gartner analysts kicking off the conference also appeared to utter the refrain that there should be no assumption there is "perfect security" but that it's acceptable to strive for "good enough."

"There is no such thing as 'perfect protection,'" said Proctor, adding the best approach is simply to be engaged with what the business is doing and proactively work to enable it with the business managers without overwhelming them with highly technical details about security products and implementations.

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