Searchlight

CIOs must take aim at changing face of cyberthreats

Karen Goulart, Senior Features Writer

Soon the Targets of the world will have less room for excuses. And the same will be true for your company. If the promise of some next-gen startups pans out, the face of cybersecurity will change, and it's a good thing too. The face of cyberthreats has been morphing for years.

Karen GoulartKaren Goulart

Hot on the heels of revelations about major data privacy breaches involving more than 100 million customers (or about one-third of the U.S. population) of Target and Neiman Marcus comes this week's lead Searchlight item. A timely piece by New York Times tech writer Nicole Perlroth takes a look at the quickly growing crop of cybersecurity startup companies intent on nudging out the stalwart Symantecs and McAfees of the market.

What sets these upstarts apart from the old-school providers, notes Perlroth, is they don't sit back and wait for hackers to come knocking; rather than react to cyberthreats, they anticipate them. Some focus on very specific of-the-moment issues companies are facing, such as keeping watch on apps downloaded to corporate networks through unsanctioned devices. Venture capitalists are eating it up and putting their money down.

Hackers can and will hack anything. And now that just about everything is connected to the Internet (or will be), anything really is going to be vulnerable. This week brought the first reported hacking of a refrigerator -- holy leftover mackerel!

Check out SearchCIO's own coverage of these topics

Video: The role of the CIO in cybersecurity

Can big data and personal privacy coexist?

CIO lessons from Facebook's use of data discovery tools

Even if you don't jump on board with one of these new-breed security startups, the ideas behind what they're trying to sell you are worth thinking about. And yet many CIOs are not. In the Gartner 2014 CIO Agenda report released this week, among the approximately 2,300 global CIOs surveyed, security ranked eighth out of 12 top spending priorities for the year. Eighth.

Maybe security isn't as sexy as things like analytics (No. 1) or cloud (No. 5) -- making it a harder sell come budget time. But when something technology-related goes very wrong, it's usually the person in charge of the technology (hello, CIO) who gets shown the door (so long, CIO).

Every high-profile breach is a chance to broach the conversation about getting up to date on security -- with your CISO, CEO and especially your board of directors. The message needs to get through before the hackers do.

  • Security startups focus on eliminating modern cyberthreats; how about you?
  • No need to answer the preceding question, Starbucks; it's pretty clear where you're at on the issue.
  • Google pays $3.2 billion cash for Nest, because the overlords needed another way to monitor and influence your habits. We've got advertisers selling popsicles -- crank it up!
  • Silly Google, it's not like you need to be connected to a network to look in on what people are doing -- just ask the NSA.
  • A breakdown of what this week's net neutrality ruling means for the average American -- don't worry: it's concise and it won't use much bandwidth.
  • Everyone loves a good infographic, but sometimes data visualization tricks us with those pretty, pretty pictures. Here's a handy guide to keep from being duped.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, senior features writer.

This was first published in January 2014