It is no secret that cyber is, and will continue to be the hot topic in 2019, with global cyber security spending expected to reach USD 124 billion (Gartner). We have all heard the spiel of “technology is evolving, and security must evolve with it” and “as technology innovation increases so does the cyber security risk”. I am not going to bore you to death by repeating what we all have heard a thousand times. Don’t even get me started on the incessant sharing of the same news story when a breach occurs…..

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But I digress! In this short piece, I lay out my opinion (rant) of the current market trends and nuances I have seen in Australia across both government and private industry.
“Vendor agnostic” does not always mean vendor agnostic.
– This is particularly true in Federal government. CIO/CISOs/whoever (the buyer) will identify a requirement/gap and assess potential solutions that will fit in with their overall business and its architecture. Often, before an RFQ is even issued, the buyer will already have a solution or provider in mind. Of course, probity and abiding by the government’s strict procurement regulations prevent them from going direct in most cases. If an RFQ seems like it has been written with a specific vendor in mind, (some are even written by the preferred vendor, although no one will admit to that), then it probably is. It is a useful skill to be able to spot these types of RFQs, and if you cannot provide that particular brand or solution, then it might be best to pass on that opportunity.

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Organisations want a silver bullet, or as close to it as possible
– CIO/CISO/buyers are not overly interested in what “value-adding” vendors can provide or their capabilities. They don’t want your “spray and pray” spam emails and cold calls. That’s rookie s@$t man! They want to know if a vendor can identify and solve more than one of their problems at once. Procurement preference has shifted from deeply specialised providers to a vendor that can provide a platform that performs a wide range of functions adequately. A “one-stop-shop” if you will. The focus is largely now on the following:
o Does the solution solve multiple problems?
o Will the solution integrate with the current architecture and is it easy for staff to manage?
o Can it be automated?
Consider the above before you start marketing your solution and pitching to the CIO/CISO/whoever.

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IoT is not going away. Ever.
– IoT devices are proliferating like, well, rabbits… I and many others like @Lani Refiti have spoken about this issue many times. There is no sign of slowing down, and the lack of enforceable standards means security is not baked into the product lifecycle from the beginning. They are notoriously difficult, if not impossible, to update/patch, and to respond effectively to the threats posed by IoT, an iterative and adaptive approach is needed. Organisations are gradually becoming more aware of the risk and have taken a more considered approach to their use of IoT devices. Considerations like “do we really need a connected fridge that informs us when we are out of milk?” or “is it possible that my toaster is a Decepticon?” (The answer is “Yes” by the way).

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There will be some (see “many”) that still have not implemented basic security standards
– There are security standards which should be common across all organisations by now. If your organisation (particularly mid to large size organisations) has not implemented the following, you should give yourself a swift uppercut (figuratively… or literally. Up to you.) This is obviously a non-exhaustive list. I just picked a few.
o Cyber awareness training for all staff and contractors. The majority of breaches are caused by human error so this one is a “no-brainer”. There is great training available for as little as $50/person. It will be cheaper than a breach. I promise.
o Cyber security as an ongoing topic of discussion at board/leadership meetings. A top-down focus on cyber will flow through the rest of the organisation.
o Backups. PLEASE, PLEASE back up your organisation’s data. Daily preferably. It is fairly straightforward and cost-effective to set up. Should the worst happen, then you won’t lose everything.
o Encrypt your data, including data at rest. This goes a long way to preventing unauthorised users from being able to view your data, even if they are able to get their mitts on it.
o Multi-factor authentication. Enable it on all applications. On every device. Even your Tinder account has MFA, for all you single people.

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Final thoughts (see “disclaimer”)
– This piece is just my weekend thoughts on paper and does not reflect the beliefs of my employer etc. etc. Take it with a grain of salt and some humour. I welcome constructive feedback and opinions on any or all of the topics I have discussed.

For more of my thoughts/ramblings, visit ssedgwick.com

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