Looking back on 2016, two major technology trends stand out for IT Solution Providers: a daunting security challenge and a fervent obsession to deliver business value. If you take a negative perspective, 2016 may go down as the Year of Ransomware. But for the optimists in the crowd, we can view it as the beginning of an intelligent, connected future where enlightened decisions are guided by keen, data-driven insights that enhance business performance.
The interesting dichotomy of these two trends is that failure to get a handle on our cybersecurity problems casts a pall on the connected future that is supposed to make our lives and businesses better. How much better off will we be if we must constantly look over our shoulder for the next security threat?
But there is hope. So let’s dissect these two major trends by way of a “year in review” to find out why:
2016 featured a particularly disruptive combination of cyber threats, with ransomware and phishing working in tandem to trick users into infecting their own machines and then being asked to pay-up to regain access to their own data – after that data was encrypted by malware.
And that’s just an example of the ever-expanding cyber threat landscape. And luckily for us, the the cybersecurity industry is resilient and they have responded by developing more sophisticated, intelligent solutions, often available as cloud-based services.
In addition to the technical solutions, there has been a growing emphasis on user awareness and behavior conditioning. Security professionals are finally getting wise to the reality that technology tools can’t do the job alone. Fighting the cybercrime scourge requires educating and conditioning users to identify, avoid and report phishing attempts, bad URLs and other threats.
Another encouraging sign is an increased focus on malware behavior analysis and threat intelligence. As you read this, advance threat intelligence tools are scouring the cyber world to identify malicious websites and threat sources, and feed relevant information to corporate security professionals.
Technology and process changes combined with training and education have all been combined to give businesses a fighting chance to fend off the latest threats by shoring up defenses. As threat intelligence tools become more refined, cybersecurity will evolve into more of a predictive discipline by leveraging intelligence on where new threats are likely to originate and what they will target.
Enhanced Business Performance Through Digitization
IT has a tradition of being enamored with the latest advances, while sometimes not making the case as to why those advances matter. This is also changing. The focus has gradually but surely been turning to supporting business requirements and forging the path to future success.
This new focus is at the heart of digital transformation projects. Companies are looking to integrate existing systems with new digital investments with the goal of creating unprecedented levels of efficiency in operations, production and go-to-market strategies. The overall goal of these digitization investments is to improve the customer experience.
IT developments such as edge computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart mobile apps will be integral to digitization plans. IoT sensors will capture and transmit information, edge data centers will process that information in real-time for immediate decisions, and rapidly built smart mobile apps will place the right data in the hands of the decision-makers precisely when they need it.
But the ecosystem cannot function properly without the “old reliables” – the data and backup systems, the power and cooling infrastructure, and the massive databases where information is stored and mined.
These technologies, too, are undergoing refinements. For instance, data backup and recovery is getting smarter, taking cues from the world of analytics to prioritize and organize critical data for rapid recovery in the aftermath of an outage. Power and cooling systems now are being managed remotely, making it possible to reboot units from a distance and to manage their lifecycles to prevent any outages caused by a drained battery.
As we look into the future, we need to focus on evolutionary tech such as IoT and edge computing, but without neglecting essential supporting technologies. Backup and recovery solutions and power and cooling technology, working in tandem with sophisticated cybersecurity tools and strategies, will be essential to guarantee network uptime and protect digital assets from cyber threats and outages.
As we look into 2017, there’s much to look forward to. But we need to be mindful of the security/future planning dichotomy to ensure technology advances live up to their promise.
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