It’s mid-March, 2020.
Fake text messages are circulating around the country warning Australians that we could be going into lockdown any moment. School attendance is dropping by magnitudes every day, toilet paper is flying off the shelves of supermarkets, and offices are putting meetings in their employee’s diaries as they prepare to make announcements about how they’ll respond to the growing threat of COVID-19 and widespread restrictions.
For many long-time security practitioners, this wasn’t the first time we had planned for disruption. Security and risk departments are in the business of contemplating future disaster and doing what we can to mitigate it. However, none of us were prepared for the reality, when widespread restrictions and lockdowns took hold.
None of us could have predicted the lasting impacts lockdown would have on the way we all work, and none of us could have predicted the role it would play in driving innovation.
Emergence of the Unbound Enterprise
Prior to 2020, we all knew digital transformation was steadily changing the shape of the workplace. Workers were increasingly accessing files from multiple devices, from a range of locations that were not the office, and they were sharing files on cloud-based applications that IT departments had little to no visibility over.
These factors that indicated a slow breakdown of the traditional workplace model were skyrocketed into the status-quo when governments around the world announced restrictions. While COVID-19 was not the first driver towards cloud migration, it has almost certainly been the most impactful and rapid – and new research suggests, the most enduring.
We call this new era the Unbound Enterprise. A recent report by WSJ Intelligence and Forcepoint surveyed more than 500 CEOs and CISOs around the globe, looking for their insights on how businesses and security have been forever changed in today’s distributed enterprise landscape.
Three key findings from the research really stood out to me:
- 90% of CEOs and 84% of CISOs said they’ve adopted or will adopt SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) today
- 74% of executives reallocated funds to cybersecurity
- Over 50% see the need for more tightly integrated security
These findings point to much more than a temporary blip in workplace behaviour. They paint the story of a major shift in attitudes towards security practices. They point to a cybersecurity system built for-purpose in the era of Unbound Enterprise.
If cyber security was invented today
An interesting reason for this new outlook is clear when we look at whose perspectives have shifted. The research showed that CISOs responded by adapting existing strategy, while the pandemic really opened the eyes and changed the views of CEOs. This suggests that more of the C-suite now better understands the importance of an integrated security framework.
It has become obvious that converged, cloud-driven approaches will offer huge advances as remote workers emerge from government-enforced WFH environments and return in some capacity to office-enabled ones, gaining more autonomy to innovate and drive business forward. These decentralized organisations will need to develop ways to secure their distributed workforces and cloud applications in a way that isn’t intrusive or obstructive – supporting collaboration and creativity no matter where staff are based.
In light of this major and enduring shift in business practices, it is going to be more important than ever for leaders to consider the question – ‘what would security look like if it were invented today?’.
To do this, leaders should pay attention to key findings uncovered by the WSJ research:
- 58% see a need for an integrated “Trust Framework” to accommodate dispersion of users and devices
- 48% substantially increased cloud-based cybersecurity systems
- 43% agreed they were challenged to manage an array of products from large number of vendors
- While analysts have estimated 40% of enterprises would embrace SASE by 2024, the WSJ Intelligence report found that COVID may have accelerated this timeline
Rather than slowly evolving with legacy security systems that were built for a traditional workplace – and workers – operating within the bounds of an office network, leaders should build a security system around a decentralized workplace.
For more CEO and CISO insights from The C-Suite Report: Business and Security Strategies for Today’s Unbound Enterprise please visit this page to download the report.