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Code42 2023 Predictions: What the Cybersecurity Industry Can Expect in 2023


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

What the Cybersecurity Industry Can Expect in 2023

By Nathan Hunstad, Code42, Deputy CISO

If there has ever been a quiet year for the cybersecurity industry, 2022 certainly was not it. As a whole, cybercrimes rose more than 600% over the last year, with data breaches costing companies more money than ever before. (The Appian and Pegasystems trade secret theft case clocked in with an epic $2 billion award.) Unfortunately, thanks to a significant talent drought plaguing the industry, many companies didn't have the resources and skills needed to protect themselves. This issue is only expected to get worse, with recent data citing we need 3.4 million more cybersecurity workers worldwide to secure assets effectively. I believe that supply chain attacks, the distributed workforce, and a dearth of cybersecurity professionals are all important areas security teams and business leaders need to proactively address as we enter 2023.

Prediction 1: Attackers will target internal employees to implement larger attacks

It used to be that if you wanted to gain access to an organization's infrastructure, you'd utilize spam emails or ransomware. However, as cybersecurity tools became more attuned to blocking these more obvious attempts, nefarious actors had to create more sophisticated methods to break through. Security teams need to bear in mind that these newer approaches won't necessarily be caught in a spam filter or firewall - because they're coming from within the organization.

This latest tactic involves working with an insider to gain access to critical pieces of data and information. Sometimes attackers will be upfront with insiders, convincing them that personal gain is worth partaking in nefarious illegal activities. Other times, the insiders themselves will be duped into unknowingly handing over data to outside sources. Either way, security teams need to be flexible in changing their defensive mechanisms as attackers shift and become more sophisticated. In light of this, organizations are also likely to prioritize better training exercises and guidance so employees can better respond and understand how to spot these kinds of threats to avoid falling victim.

Prediction 2: A continued rise in cloud collaboration tech usage will cause more company data exposures

It's clear that remote work is here to stay, and companies will only continue to increase the number and type of cloud applications they use to move and store data. We're also seeing that today's job market is continually expanding, leading to a future scenario where the pool of eligible candidates includes the entire world, regardless of location. This reliance on cloud collaboration tools opens the door for data exposures if employees aren't utilizing these solutions properly.

Our current workforce is also much more transient than in years past; employees are not retiring with the company they started with and are moving around much more frequently. This tendency to job hop leads to more data exfiltration, as people leave and take data with them - whether with malicious intentions or not. In fact, research shows there's a one-in-three (37%) chance your company loses IP when an employee quits, and 71% of organizations are unaware of how much sensitive data their departing employees typically take with them.

My colleagues at Code42 are keeping an eye on a few other trends as well:

Jadee Hanson, CIO and CISO:

Prediction 3: Companies will prioritize cybersecurity retention to help reduce turnover

As we enter 2023, there are millions of unfilled cybersecurity jobs, giving job seekers a major advantage if they're looking to gain different employment and negotiating power. However, for employers, the cost of replacing security talent is incredibly high. For a cybersecurity practitioner to do an effective job, they need to understand the full technology landscape of an organization, which takes a great deal of time.

In the year ahead, companies will look inward to ensure they're doing what they can in order to retain their existing cybersecurity talent. While money is usually some part of maintaining employee happiness, cybersecurity professionals are generally not entirely motivated by salary. Instead, most want to make sure they're doing work that is intellectually stimulating: they want new projects to work on, different spaces to dig into, and interesting assignments that allow them to flex their creative problem-solving muscles.

Employers will also have to look more broadly for talent and consider more "unconventional" candidates. Most job postings start with an emphasis on skill mastery, requiring years of experience in cybersecurity for a hiring manager to even look at a person's resume. Instead, a candidate's soft skills - someone who is curious and wants to learn - will be of greater importance.

Prediction 4: Budget cuts will leave companies vulnerable to cyberattacks

Economic uncertainty often causes budget concerns for CFOs trying to keep their company above the potential fray. What's more, cybersecurity spend is sometimes seen as an added company expense rather than an essential function, perhaps in part due to a difficulty in quantifying success metrics and ROI.

Companies that don't readily see the value in their existing programs may try to reduce expenses by cutting investments in cybersecurity tools or talent. However, these cuts could reduce an organization's ability to properly detect or prevent data breaches, leaving them vulnerable to potentially devastating impacts. Leaders should especially be concerned given the consistent rise in ransomware attacks in the last few years; these are not expected to slow down anytime soon. We can expect to see companies that choose to maintain efficient cybersecurity resources, even in the face of economic uncertainty, fare much better than those who slash and burn.

Matt Jackson, Senior Director, Security Operations:

Prediction 5: Supply chain attacks will become more sophisticated and harder to prevent

Supply chain attacks occur when hackers infiltrate a company's infrastructure through a third-party partner, many of whom now have more access to sensitive data than ever before. Cybercriminals have increasingly turned their focus to this method of access because it enables them to gain an exponentially greater amount of information from a single breach. We already saw software supply chain attacks rise by more than 300% in 2021 compared to 2020; the impact of some incidents, like the SolarWinds hack, is still unfolding.

This means that, unfortunately, companies cannot only rely on their own cybersecurity power to keep sensitive information safe. Since supply chain attacks often target smaller organizations to get to the bigger fish, companies now need to be increasingly aware of the cybersecurity practices of all partners and vendors they work with.

In the year ahead, companies will ramp their cybersecurity diligence up to an "11" because attackers never get worse - they only get better and sneakier. We will likely see companies buckle down on their efforts to mitigate these supply chain risks. One of those ways is utilizing compliance verifications to vet the security tools and systems used by third-party partners and making sure their teams are updating their processes as new types of attacks and vulnerabilities emerge.

There's no sure-fire way to make certain your company is entirely immune to every type of cyber attack, but there certainly are ways to ensure you're putting your best foot forward. By proactively building responses and processes to address these major issues, security leaders can set their teams up for the best possible success moving forward.



Nathan Hunstad, Code42, Deputy CISO


Nathan is the Deputy CISO at Code42, the Insider Risk Management leader. He leads the Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Platform/Application Security teams. In past roles as a senior leader on the Code42 security team, he led or held roles in security operations, threat and vulnerability management, security engineering, red team, cyber intel, risk assessment, and security consulting. Nathan joined Code42 in 2016, bringing experience from both the private and public sector, and is a graduate of the Masters of Science in Security Technologies (MSST) program at the University of Minnesota.

Published Monday, November 07, 2022 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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