Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 SC Awards Introduction

My full 2017 SC Awards introductory comments.

February 14, 2017

To quote Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” This adage rings true for our field of Cybersecurity. Never has it been more exciting or more difficult to be a cybersecurity professional. The pace of change is rapid, and we must always be learning and adapting as we compete in an asymmetrical war against our adversaries.  

In 2016, we saw the upward trend continue, in the number and veracity of threats we face. No sector was untouched and breaches continued to get bigger. We have gotten the attention of our boards, and just when we think the public might be numb to reports of credit card breaches, the news is filled with stories of IoT attacks against baby monitors and pacemakers, attacks against power plants and critical infrastructure, and even attacks aimed at national elections.

There is no doubt that cybersecurity professionals are in demand more than ever before. A convergence of technologies are enabling business growth and opening new markets that never before existed. Today, business relies not just on the Internet for communication, but on mobile devices, applications, cloud services, data analytics, social media, IoT devices, and critical infrastructure. We all need to trust that our transactions are secure and that our personal information is protected. Corporations are adopting a “cloud first” approach that requires a maturity in our ability to secure corporate data in new ecosystems. We can no longer imagine that simply building a wall around our data centers will solve our problems.

In the past year, we also saw significant regulatory change and we face uncertainty in light of changes to EU privacy laws, Safe Harbor rules, BREXIT and the changes a new US administration may bring to privacy, commerce and US regulations. We are fortunate to see strides being made with industry information sharing groups, and we continue to mature our security programs as we tie our policies and controls to standard frameworks. 

While the demand is high, cybersecurity is no longer a side job for overworked IT staff, or a good idea, it is a must have. As professionals, we need the skill sets required for specialized roles within cybersecurity. The importance of strong training programs and certification should be clear. This is why SC Awards continues to recognize the important job of vendors who provide training and certifications, so that we have a pipeline of qualified candidates to fill cybersecurity vacancies at our organizations.

The good news is that corporate security teams are more business-minded, forward thinking and are receiving support from the board level. Cybersecurity leaders in our organizations have not only the technical knowledge, but the business accumen to have earned their place at the table with other executives. SC Awards recognizes highly successful teams and industry leaders for the work that they are doing to raise the bar for our industry and to set an example that we should all aspire to.

The cybersecurity market continues to grow, innovate and mature. As our organizations face new threats, new regulatory requirements and adopt new technologies, they now have vendor solutions that enable business growth and add business value. Terms such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Threat Hunting have become a part of our vocabulary. Flexible solutions that are cloud-ready and integrate with our legacy systems help make the task of protecting data, reducing risk and defending against threats wherever our data may reside, achievable, adaptable and affordable.
The SC Awards 2017 recognizes vendors and practitioners who make a difference by offering innovative solutions to effectively and efficiently inform us about threats and vulnerabilities, protect our data and keep it confidential, and detect, respond and recover from cyber attacks.

As co-chair of SC Awards 2017, I am humbled to be involved in the process to select and honor the leaders and innovators to receive awards in the many categories we designate as crucial to the success of our industry. I applaud your efforts, your dilligence and your success in delivering the best our cybersecurity industry has to offer. You make an important difference every day in bringing trust and security to our interconnected world.

- John Johnson, SC Media Advisory Board Member

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