5 Big Cybersecurity Bets For 2023 From Optiv CEO Kevin Lynch

From enterprise spending to a new National Cyber Corps to possible OT attacks in the U.S. and Europe, here are Optiv CEO Kevin Lynch’s security-industry predictions for the coming new year

At last year’s Best of Breed conference sponsored by The Channel Company, Optiv chief executive Kevin Lynch boldly outlined 10 predictions and trends he saw unfolding in 2022.

“We were pretty darn accurate,” Lynch boasted at this past week’s BoB 2022 conference in Atlanta, referring to his “bets” last year.

So the leader of the top pure-play security solutions provider in the U.S. is back this year with more predictions – five of them to be exact – after consulting his colleagues at Denver-based Optiv, which employs 2,400 workers and has about 6,000 customers.

Lynch certainly had a lot of materials and issues to work with as he drew up this year’s predictions list, from recent high-profile ransomware attacks to labor-shortage concerns to increased fears of operational technology (OT) attacks.

Some problems haven’t changed much over the past year – and probably won’t change much in 2023, Lynch said. But the industry is also always changing and evolving, throwing up new challenges for security experts to tackle, he said.

“There are vicious games being played,” Lynch said of threat actors roaming across the digital world in general.

The following are Lynch’s five security-industry predictions for 2023.

‘Integration Is Going To Win’

As Optiv’s Kevin Lynch notes, there’s already a debate under way on whether there are too many cybersecurity tools out there, almost to the point of overwhelming customers, versus whether there’s too little integration.

The debate is now at the level of a “mild, low roar,” Lynch told Best of Breed audience members.

“(But) it will become a violently loud debate over the next nine to 12 months,” Lynch said, adding emphatically: “Newsflash: integration is going to win.”

The bottom line: Cybersecurity threats are real, business leaders are worried, and security demand and spending will remain strong for the best and newest products.

The Enterprise Customer Segment Leads

Cybersecurity may be getting extraordinarily expensive, not to mention confusing. But let’s face it: Large enterprises in sensitive sectors (and oftentimes lucrative ones) will generally spend whatever it takes to get top-notch security, as Optiv’s Lynch said.

“The big companies in this world will continue to capitalize. They can do it at any pace. They can build great and sizable security teams. They can do their own configuration, their own architecture,” he said.

But Lynch added: “For the enterprise side, can they continue to do this? They can‘t afford to step away. They cannot afford to step away from security. But can they afford to continue to capitalize? Can they actually attract great talent in this under-talent world that we live in? So when we think about security delivered as a service, probably much of it on the three-legged platform, when we think about that world, enterprise is the basis that will lead us out of this.”

Demand For Security Expertise On Boards Will Increase

Think nabbing a spot on a corporate board of directors is an easy and cushy way to spend one’s retirement? Not these days, Optiv’s Kevin Lynch said.

The bottom line: Board of director posts are more demanding today, requiring more time and expertise from members. The trend will only intensify moving ahead.

“It‘s going to be about skills,” Lynch said. “And one of those skills is security. According to the National Association of Corporate Directors, one of the most underrepresented skills on the boards today (is security expertise).”

Lynch said the demand for security expertise on corporate boards will only increase over the coming year, though it may be hard to fill those positions because of the overall shortage of cybersecurity talent in general. See Lynch’s next prediction.

The Formation Of A National Cyber Corps For Security Training Will Become Critical

It’s been said that there’s nearly 3 million cybersecurity jobs going unfilled across the world today – with more than a million of those unfilled jobs in the U.S.

A possible answer to the shortage, at least in the U.S.? A new National Cyber Corps, which would fund, coordinate and train people to fill critical cybersecurity jobs, Optiv’s Lynch said.

“It‘s going to take the mother of all public private partnerships to do this,” Lynch said, adding the concept will need the full backing of the White House, solution providers, education officials and others in order to get it off the ground.

Saying the security industry’s labor shortage is holding back new products and services, Lynch declared: “This is a crisis for this country, and I would argue for the world. The only way we will solve this is actually building a National Cyber Corps.”

Lynch is helping to make the idea a reality, saying at the conference that he’s currently “finishing a position paper” on the issue for the White House.

Demand For Cybersecurity Capabilities In OT (Operational Technology) Finally Comes Of Age

Think the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack was bad? It probably will get worse, much worse, starting in 2023, as bad actors launch even more devastating OT cyberattacks against critical companies and infrastructures, such as utilities and hospitals, Optiv’s Lynch said.

“This is a glaring issue in our environment,” Lynch said of OT cybersecurity. “If we think about [attackers] weaponizing infrastructure, this is one that really matters. My prediction is we will actually see an OT attack in the United States, certainly within 2023 of a magnitude that we think of it as an act of war. I think we are on the verge of seeing one in Europe faster than perhaps the first quarter of ’23.”

He then told partners at BoB: “In 2023 and beyond, if you don‘t have a strategy for playing in this space and winning in this space, you will be left behind. This market is going to wake up, and it’s going to be enormous.”