Removing security complexity to combat cyber threats

Businesses are struggling with an overwhelming, and increasingly complex and confusing cyber world. Ian McShane, Field CTO at Arctic Wolf looks at how cyber simplicity is the key for businesses to move forward with their security programmes

Businessman walking on twisted rope high in sky

Technological innovation over the last ten years has been swift. Looking back a decade or so ago, the infosec industry was full of emerging technologies and cloud-backed capabilities which promised to end the threat of malware and to detect threats faster than attackers could weaponise them. Despite that, we’re still seeing ransomware dominate media headlines and cyber security topping government agendas today. This innovation is yet to put cyber threats to bed despite its acceleration – Verizon’s Data Breach Incident Report 2022 confirms this, showing cyber threats are on the rise in EMEA.

But why? Something isn’t adding up, and it appears as though businesses are struggling with an overwhelming and increasingly complex and confusing cyber world. Given that cybersecurity is no longer just a technological problem that needs solving, and is critical to the entire business infrastructure, what can be done?

The current cyber environment

Despite inflation rises and cost of living issues, experts have predicted cybersecurity spending will either rise or hold steady in 2022, with cumulative spending potentially reaching $1.75 trillion by 2025. Alongside this, in just five years, the number of board directors who view cybersecurity as a ‘business risk’ has gone from 58% to 88%. Organisations then, understand cyber investment needs to be made if they are going to protect themselves from the growing threats and obvious ramifications associated with a successful cyber attack.

Ransomware, as we know, continues to be a major headache and the number of high-profile incidents we’re seeing caused by this attack vector is growing. In fact, cyber security researchers in Q1 of this year observed a 21% increase in ransomware attacks compared to Q1 2021. But it isn’t the only threat – malware, phishing scams, password breaches, the list of dangers businesses need to address is growing longer by the day.

Couple this with the sheer speed at which cyber criminals are adjusting their tactics, techniques, and procedures, and it’s made an environment in which it’s nearly impossible for organisations to outrun threat actors and keep themselves, their customers, and employees safe.

An overcomplicated practice

With an increased need for cybersecurity services, it can be argued the industry has now overcomplicated a practice that should inherently be a lot simpler for organisations to navigate.

At a time when the cyber attack landscape has never been more volatile, companies are being lured into buying products and services they just don’t need. This complicated marketplace of different tools promising the silver bullet solution is just cluttering and clouding the problem, and it’s leading to overload and fatigue amongst security professionals.

The complexity of cybersecurity in itself isn’t a bad thing. It is a by-product of technology that has revolutionised many industries. Without it, many of these industries would have stagnated. But the rate at which technology, and therefore cybersecurity, has evolved means many business leaders are playing catch up with technology products and stacks which either aren’t up to the mark, or siloed from existing systems.

Removing cyber complexity

The industry desperately needs to find ways to demystify jargon and democratise processes. A large part of this is finding ways to simplify the number of cybersecurity tools available to businesses and instead, offer more effective and practical solutions to fill the talent gap void, such as training support or more tailored outsourced expertise. This could have a halo effect on an organisation’s capability to combat cyber threats.

Simplifying cybersecurity and the business tools available will make it far easier and more accessible for multiple divisional leaders within the business to understand. This should enable successful collaboration to ensure the problem gets fixed and that it doesn’t happen again, should a breach occur.

It’s important to note this complexity also refers to maintaining regulatory compliance. Meeting compliance obligations is, and will continue to be, a challenge for security professionals despite its vital role in improving an organisation’s overall security posture. Businesses shouldn’t see these issues as a problem at which to throw new technology solutions at though – it won’t help them increase their preparedness for newly announced regulations such as US cybersecurity reporting requirements, and the UK’s National Cyber Strategy 2022.

A successful cybersecurity programme needs to be a company-wide approach, and cover more than just the specific threats, such as ransomware, which are prolific in the space currently. Whether it’s the tools, the processes or the people involved, everyone needs to have an understanding as to the best ways in which they, together, can help improve cyber posture and prevent threat actors from reaching their goals. This is why simplifying tools and processes will be vital in helping businesses stay safe from threats in the fast-paced world we currently live in.

Ian McShane has over 20 years’ experience in cybersecurity and operational IT. As a former Gartner analyst, Ian has advised the largest and fastest growing technology companies in the world as well as tens of thousands of organizations world-wide. He is well known as a trusted advisor and popular commentator in our industry, and prior to joining Arctic Wolf Ian has spent time at Symantec, Gartner, Endgame, Elastic, and CrowdStrike.