It’s Never Too Soon to Begin Thinking About Your 2024 Cybersecurity Journey

By John Spiegel
1324
2024 Notes image

John Spiegel, Director of Strategy, Field CTO, Axis Security

Was it me, or did 2023 roll by fast? It feels like it was a blur to me. The end of the year is here and it’s time to pause, take stock, and then gear up for 2024.  While I will not help you with the first two, I’ll provide perspective on the last item, what are the trends and areas to consider investing your time and resources on in the coming year.

Cutting Through the AI Hype

Let’s start with the hottest topic in IT.  Sorry, it’s not Taylor Swift, but close!  Artificial Intelligence. Despite the hype from the marketing departments of the major network vendors, AI won’t solve all your problems in 2024.  We are too early in the journey but not too early to investigate. So, over the next 12 months, how should you be thinking about AI?

I recommend looking for opportunities where AI can help you lower your operational burden.  Are there areas where you can leverage AI to reduce your requirements for highly compensated network security engineers to maintain and support your networks?  Are there use cases for AI to provide operational intelligence to your frontline NOC and operations teams to resolve tickets without escalations?  Look for AI-enabled “digital co-pilots,” leverage natural language with “chatbot” interfaces to help your network and operations teams troubleshoot network and security events.  Vendors are now beginning to deliver them. Doing so will reduce your “keep the lights on” load and allow your high-end talent to focus on key projects that generate new revenue or reduce business risk.

Trust No One

The second topic that must be on your radar for 2024 is zero-trust networking (ZTN).  While much maligned by marketers in the network and security industry, you need to wade through the messaging to get to the outcomes for your business.  The days of “trusted and untrusted” networks are gone. Cloud started the trend, and the rise of the remote workforce in 2020 was the nail in the coffin. To be successful in this decade of distributed IT where islands of data are strung out across the vast ocean of the Internet, zero trust must be at the center of your security strategy.

For security networking, you must be thinking holistically.  How do I apply this framework to my remote employees, my campus networks, my branch networks, and my WAN networks?  I don’t recommend running out and making 2024 the year of zero trust and trying to accomplish all of the above . However, I strongly urge you to pause and think strategically about how you can revise your network and security systems in this model over a three-five year period.

Start by asking your primary vendors about their roadmaps and determine if they align with your future plans.  Next, map out your priorities in six- month increments.  And then sync up with your finance teams to ensure your plan is in alignment with theirs.  This means getting ahead of the budget/depreciation conversations. Lastly, see if there are any small or medium-sized projects you can get your team involved in that can serve as the starting point of the ZTN transition.

Start Living on the (Security Service) Edge

Which brings me to the third area to invest in for 2024. Security Service Edge or SSE.  If you are going to start the journey to Zero Trust Networking, SSE is a great first step. According to Forbes, securing remote work remains a top challenge for CxOs.  Another top-of-mind issue is retaining top talent. SSE can help with both. Instead of using legacy VPN technology with a series of point solutions for remote access, SSE dissolves and reconstitutes these hardware solutions as software delivered from the Cloud in a SaaS-like format. The result is speed and security for your remote workforce.

Additionally, as your workforce leverages the system, they will share insights into their application experience.  If you can understand their experiences, you can make their work experience which will help as you retain top talent. As for where to start, I recommend a 3rd party or contractor use case. The majority of companies these days are using a VPN to grant access to their “trusted” network.  Due to the nature of the cyber threats and the distributed landscape of IT, this is no longer recommended.  It is too much of a risk.  Alternatively, you can use an agentless version of SSE’s ZTNA technology to limit access to only the applications or systems required based on their identity (and other factors).  The outcome is you never place a 3rd party or contractor on your network. This greatly reduces your attack surface, and business risk and if done correctly, can lower costs. Consider a project like this to start the SSE and Zero Trust Network path.

I hope you enjoyed my recommendations for 2024.  Here is to a great year in front of you!

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