10 Security Predictions For 2017

The Only Guarantee Is Change

2016 was a year of change in the security industry, with new technologies, threats and services opportunities. And, that change is likely just the beginning as we start 2017. The new year brings with it evolving and more sophisticated security threats – from Internet of Things, ransomware and more -- as well as a changing security industry looking to keep pace with (and hopefully get ahead of) the new attacks. Security experts predict that means we will see new technologies taking the forefront on the security budget line, vendor consolidation, and a rise in managed security services, just to name a few. Take a look at some of the changes we might see in 2017.

Security Market Consolidation

Consolidation occurred in a big way in 2016, with blockbuster deals from Symantec, Carbon Black, Avast Software and multiple examples of private equity buys. However, industry experts say they expect 2016 was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to consolidation. The expected wave comes as some of the biggest security vendors look to position themselves for the future with next-generation technologies to complement their legacy portfolios. In addition, rumors already have started flying as to which startups will be the first to get snapped up in 2017, although it remains to be seen what deal will kick off what will likely be an interesting year when it comes to security acquisitions.

Focus On Orchestration, Integration

In the panic over the mega breaches that have happened over the past few years, businesses looked to ramp up their investments in security technologies. Unfortunately, that has resulted in a lot of security shelfware. Now, as solution providers go into 2017, many say they see a big services and consultative opportunity to help customers integrate, orchestrate and optimize their security technologies. Vendors also are looking to make their technologies easier to integrate, with many launching technology vendor partner programs in 2016 and planning to offer further integration.

Ransomware Continues To Rise

Ransomware came to the forefront in a big way in 2016, with high-profile attacks on hospitals, banks and other businesses. Now security experts say they expect ransomware to only to continue to rise as a threat. Erin Malone, vice president, North America channel sales at Sophos, said she expects ransomware to continue to evolve, with attackers using new, more sophisticated threat vectors to deliver ransomware beyond email, such as requiring a user to pass the ransomware off to peers to release their files.

"That’s a scary thing. The opportunity for partners I really see is to be able to offer a solution that can stop ransomware in its tracks. … It's not going away. It's going to continue to evolve," Malone said.

IoT Attacks Escalate

At the end of 2016, the reality of the security risk posed by the Internet of Things came to light as a distributed denial-of-service attack hit internet performance management company Dyn, causing widespread internet outages across the East Coast. The attack came largely from devices infected by the Mirai botnet – malware that spreads to vulnerable devices by continuously scanning the internet for IoT systems protected by factory default or hard-coded usernames and passwords.

Amit Yoran, the new CEO of Tenable Network Security, said these attacks are likely only just the beginning and will expand to include attacks leveraging cyber infrastructure to take out physical devices and physical systems.

"The industry has been talking about this stuff for a long time, but I think these days are upon us," Yoran said.

Critical Infrastructure Remains Vulnerable

While 2016 saw multiple examples of successful critical infrastructure attacks, the surface has only been scratched when it comes to securing industrial control and operational technology systems, said Galina Antova, co-founder of Claroty. Antova predicted that more vendors will launch related offerings in 2017 and 2018, with traditional vendors repurposing legacy solutions and new startups emerging. That's a trend we already started seeing in 2016, with dozens of security vendors launching new critical infrastructure-focused offerings and partnerships.

"We have already seen a number of vendors move in that direction," Antova said. However, she also warned that industrial control systems are challenging to secure and often include a long list of unique and proprietary network protocols, legacy devices and availability requirements, meaning many will need solution providers to provide custom solutions.

Managed Security Services More Important Than Ever

As an accelerating threat landscape meets a more complex technical environment, businesses are looking for help. For that reason, security venture capitalists and others predict that managed security services will be more important than ever in 2017 as customers recognize they need help and are becoming more willing to outsource their security, automation, and remote management to MSSPs. The numbers show that too, with research firm Markets and Markets predicting that the market for managed security services will reach $35.5 billion by 2020, up from $17.8 billion in 2015.

Attacks Become More Complex

As security technologies become more sophisticated, so too are the attackers. Sophos' Malone said the company's threat research is showing attackers bringing together a multitude of technical and social elements to deliver attacks. She said these attacks aren't just aimed at enterprises, either, with small businesses being seen "equally as targets," especially as they tend to have less advanced defenses in place. As that shift happens, she said it becomes more important for partners to be trusted advisers to customers and think about implementing an end-to-end security strategy, encompassing the endpoint, network, email and the cloud.

Public Sector Debates On Cybersecurity

Starting in 2015, policy makers started to pay a lot more attention to the security industry. The political sector continued the conversation on security throughout the year, as cybersecurity took a front-row seat in the 2016 presidential election and related Democratic National Committee breach. Also key in 2016 was the fight over encryption between Apple and the FBI, in which the law enforcement organization tried to compel Apple to open an encrypted iPhone. However, those conversations are far from resolved -- with lingering questions around encryption, data privacy, surveillance, information sharing and more likely to continue into 2017.

Push To The Platform

A trend that started in 2016, vendors in 2017 will look to provide a full security platform. While some companies are doing that across security categories, such as Symantec, McAfee, Fortinet and Sophos, others are looking to build platforms within a specific segment, such as providing a full offering for endpoint security that covers protection, detection and incident response.

For solution providers, platforms help them address the growing complexity around security, provide an integrated solution, increase automation and meet emerging threats head on, said Derek Manky, chief security strategist at Fortinet.

As companies look to have those platform visions take shape in 2017, we can expect to see investments in organic innovation and potentially even some acquisitions to round out portfolios.

Analytics From A to Z

Analytics became one of the big security buzzwords of 2016, with seemingly every vendor adding some form of analytics capabilities to their security offerings. Security experts said they expect to see more vendors leveraging analytics, from behavioral to data, more deeply throughout their offerings. However, as analytics permeates security, experts said they also expect strong analytical capabilities to be table stakes in security, which could prove to be a problem – or an impetus for acquisition -- in 2017 and beyond for pure-play stand-alone security analytics companies.