What to Make of Your Operational Security Pressures

When it comes to measuring the pressures you are under as an IT security professional, arguably the most significant ones are those that directly impact your ability to function and perform your duties to defend and maintain your security operations. In the 2017 Security Pressures Report from Trustwave, which we released last week, we refer to these particular strains as "operational pressures."

Sixteen hundred IT security decision-makers from around the world were surveyed, and here is how they collectively ranked their top operational pressures - which was just one of the many types of pressures we measured in the fourth-annual edition of the report. For comparison purposes, the table also includes data from last year's report.

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So, what do the findings tell us about the current state of affairs for security teams? And how do we expect the statistics to progress in future versions of this report? Here are our five takeaways from the results.

1) Advanced Security Threats Reign Supreme

From obfuscated point-of-sale malware to malicious PowerShell scripts to bespoke Trojans, advanced security threats are getting more troubling by the day. With motivations varying from data theft to espionage to extortion, these threats are increasingly smarter, damaging and harder to detect. Mature organizations will counter these risks with advanced capabilities of their own, such as threat hunting.

2) Resource Limitations Exert Big Pressures

The well-documented cybersecurity skills shortage continues to hit home for IT and security professionals - ranking as the second-biggest operational pressure. But they feel other internal resource constraints as well, including lack of budget, time and staff. Combined, these deficits amount to the largest operational pressure of all.

3) Third-Party Risk, Say What?

Serious data breaches linked to third-parties continue to make headlines, but there appears to be an ongoing disconnect - backed up by our study as well - between the risks posed by suppliers and partners and the steps being taken to mitigate those. In fact, a separate report from Soha Systems (now owned by our strategic partner Akamai) found that only two percent of IT experts rate third-party secure access as a top priority. However, in the coming years, we expect vendor risk to draw more attention as cybercriminals continue to prefer the path of least resistance, which often routes them through a third-party.

4) Emerging Technologies Under Control…For Now

One of the more surprising drops in this year's report is the operational pressures caused by emerging technologies, such as the cloud, social media and the Internet of Things (IoT). One explanation is that organizations are growing increasingly comfortable and confident with the cloud, which is relinquishing some of their concerns around its resiliency and safety. Expect emerging technologies to reignite agitation when IoT more forcefully enters the enterprise realm, which is happening far quicker than most anticipated.

5) Security Getting Personal

One of the most notable themes overall from the 2017 Security Pressures Report from Trustwave is an apparent shift in stress to security professionals themselves. That is evident in this category, where requests from business-line managers saw a significant drop-off in pressure inducement. This shift in pressure highlights that individuals may be starting to understand the more visible role they play in helping to enable their organization's security posture.

Dan Kaplan is manager of online content at Trustwave and a former IT security reporter and editor.

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