2017 delivered a good deal of excitement (as well as massive, massive headaches) in IT security. WannaCry attacked more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries only to be followed by Petya a month later. And the pain extended beyond the enterprise when consumers bore the brunt of one of the most devastating hacks to hit the U.S.: the Equifax breach. The Equifax hack reportedly affected 145.5 million U.S. consumers -- or approximately 44 percent of the U.S. population -- leaving people vulnerable to financial fraud for potentially the rest of their lives.
These were just some of the year’s lowlights, all of which point to a future where nearly every organization is reliant on successful cybersecurity. It can literally mean the difference between a company’s survival and extension. As such, 2018 should be all about advancing enterprise security initiatives, and below are my top predictions to ensure the integrity of systems across the globe.
System Updates Get Renewed Attention
In the wake of 2017’s security disasters, companies have poured money into high-end detection systems, but the problem lies not in the sophistication of the attack these solutions guard against. It’s often far simpler. WannaCry and Petya were able to wreak havoc by merely exploiting Windows vulnerabilities -- vulnerabilities that Microsoft had fixed two months prior to the attacks. All companies had to do to prevent these attacks was to ensure that the critical updates made it to the machines within their networks. It was a cookie-cutter fix.
But, as a recent survey shows, IT teams are overwhelmed. They don’t have the time to execute updates themselves (45 percent), or they lack the requisite skills to develop custom automations (nearly one third). As a result, even the most basic updates can take days, weeks, or months to implement, which poses incredible risk to companies.
In 2018, this will no longer be the case. As shocking as it may sound, basic system updates will become "hot" again, at least as far as the enterprise goes. We’re already seeing a lot of investment in re-inventing the routine update. Expect to see more players, new offerings, and enhancements to existing offerings -- all in the spirit of innovation driven by necessity.
AI Elevates Self-Management
2018 will also be the year that artificial intelligence (AI) steps up in the enterprise, helping vendors create the intelligent, self-managing systems that can conquer system update and content distribution woes once and for all.
As AI becomes more mainstream and affordable, companies will apply it to solve some of the biggest issues plaguing IT teams. Self-managing systems will effectively take on higher-level tasks that require critical thought, such as remediation of compromised endpoints. This will help ensure every endpoint is consistently updated while further reducing the burdens on system administrators.
Testing and refining is occurring as you read this. Once concepts are proven at scale, expect new, smart solutions to roll out, and with them, system automation will be taken to a whole new level.
Voice Recognition Demonstrates IT Potential
Perhaps most surprising and exciting, voice will define the new frontier of the user interface. Once the accuracy of voice recognition becomes flawless (we’re currently on the cusp of this), expect it to become the next killer app for the enterprise. This prediction is somewhat dependent on key integrations with AI technologies, but as machine learning and voice work together, systems become much more human-like.
A mouse click will eventually become a thing of the past as IT administrators talk to their systems the way that consumers ask Siri for directions or Alexa to order more paper towels. Once an IT administrator’s voice can be securely authenticated, he or she is no longer tethered to a desktop or laptop. The administrator can then use voice to make commands and fully interact with and maintain systems across the network, anywhere any time. The implications for this are significant. Consider, for example, when systems falter after business hours. The delay in waiting for IT team members to head back on-premises disappears. Fixes can be made immediately.
This may sound like something in the distant future, but real products are emerging. I’ve tested some myself, which is why I am so enthusiastic about their potential. While 2018 may wind up being a year for early adopters who wish to use voice this way, mainstream adoption will inevitably follow.
As cyberattacks become a way of life and defending against them remains part of the cost of doing business, 2018 promises to be a pivotal year in the security landscape, particularly as the lines between endpoint management and security meld. Automation will take on increasing importance, and we’ll see new technologies, such as voice and AI, rise to bring real innovation to the enterprise in the quest to consistently and efficiently manage, maintain, and defend systems.