While Covid-19 was the main topic of 2021, the “cyber year” of 2022 was marked by other strong trends: economic, ecological and social crises, geopolitical conflicts and the emergence of accessible artificial intelligence for everyone. The tone has been set for the year to come; so what will the cybersecurity challenges for 2023 be? We consider some future trends.
The challenge of recruitment
For several years now, the cybersecurity market has been subject to a severe labour shortage. According to the Cybersecurity Workforce Study 2022, there are an estimated 3.7 million vacancies worldwide.
Caught up in the waves of the post-lockdown Great Resignation, the cybersecurity sector is also experiencing a soaring turnover rate. The same survey revealed that 21% of respondents had changed jobs in the last 12 months – up 13% from last year. Salary, working conditions and corporate purpose: each of these factors now plays an equal role in candidates’ selection of which company to work for.
And this shortage may even prompt us to ask a chilling question: could a cybersecurity company die from a shortage of human resources? For some cybersecurity service companies, 2022 was a real-life test. A situation destined to spread in 2023: is the future one of under-resourced SOCs that are unable to react quickly enough to a critical alert? Or companies without CISOs?
However, the sector is mobilising and taking action. Although the geopolitical environment of 2022 has prompted ethical hacker groups to lend their support to governments, the trend could continue in 2023. Could it even become structured? On the other hand, awareness-raising in schools and increasing numbers of cybersecurity training courses offer promising signs for the future. But the creation of such new talent then raises other questions: how soon will such talent be available? And is this reliable in the long term? On the same issue of recruitment, we need to keep a close eye on what is happening at Google, Microsoft or Meta... Could the wave of redundancies in tech actually represent an opportunity for the cyber-industry? The question is an open one… as is the transfer window.
The challenge of cooperation between providers
The growing sophistication of cyber attacks means that cyber-analysts can no longer rely solely on the data reported by the firewall at network level, or the protection agent at workstation level. They need an overview of what is happening on the information system.
To help them gain such an overview, cybersecurity products must aggregate, correlate and classify the data they produce and receive. After all, the threat is most likely to be detected by pooling these data streams, derived from various sources such as reputation databases or Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) information. In this way, detection, protection and remediation then all become different parts of the same mechanism. Cybersecurity as we know it is changing, with the adoption of EDR, XDR and NDR technologies. But this approach can also go hand in hand with a proliferation of cybersecurity products in companies. For large companies, this represents a new structure that they need to implement, while for small companies it is a headache – to say nothing of the budgetary component. This highlights a clear need for rationalisation. But how do you rationalise? And which tools do you choose? More than ever, there is a need to develop cyber-resilience around the concept of collaboration between providers.
And such collaboration can only be achieved with a degree of humility… a key word that deserves to be shared within the cyber community.
The challenge of artificial intelligence
The ChatGPT chatbot was launched in late 2022, and has already generated many column inches of opinion – and will continue to do so for as long as cyber criminals use it. Presented by some as artificial intelligence and by others as a chat agent, the simple fact is that ChatGPT is capable of generating elaborate answers to almost any request,
including requests to produce lines of code. So can anyone now become a cyber-criminal? Maybe not. The scripts can contain a number of errors, and therefore be relatively easily detected by protection solutions. But they still enable novice cybercriminals to become familiar with the subject, and save time on writing code snippets. The ChatGPT module can also be used to write convincing text – and thus take phishing into a new era. The ability to take advantage of advances in deepfakes, video, audio and voice synthesis strengthens cybercriminals’ offensive capabilities. Indeed, some are prophesying the emergence of a truly malevolent artificial intelligence in the same vein as Terminator’s “Skynet”.
From the providers' point of view, this form of artificial intelligence is nothing new. It has already been part of cybersecurity solutions for many years; for example, in the field of behavioural analysis. The challenge in this case thus relates more to the ability to process data to identify cyber attacks. In this asymmetric war between providers and cybercriminals, who will be able to master these new technologies? The race is on...
The environmental challenge
Controlling the environmental footprint of digital technology is a sensitive issue. In June 2020, the Senate warned that the sector was responsible for 2% of greenhouse gases in France (estimated at 4% worldwide, compared to 2.6% for civil aviation, for example). More recently, France’s ADEME agency warned that without a profound change in how digital technology is used, this share could double worldwide by 2025. And although the finger is regularly pointed at streaming platforms, they are not the only players with a role to play here.
The cybersecurity community is not responsible for this entire 2% figure, but it certainly does form a part of the picture. As the number of cybersecurity products in companies increases, their carbon footprint automatically increases – generating large volumes of data that are stored and replicated in remote cloud environments. In addition to generating greenhouse gases, cybersecurity and IT consume a lot of water. For example, Microsoft's data centres in the Netherlands are claimed to have consumed no less than 84 million litres of water in 2022, according to the Dutch Noordhollands Dagblad newspaper. That equates to the annual consumption of 1,750 local residents.
A major technological challenge of the future, therefore, will be to maintain the same level of efficiency while streamlining cybersecurity products, reducing the volume of data collected and improving the consumption of hardware resources. In France, a research project began in October 2022 to “assess the benefits of locating digital services at the edge of the network”. The aim is to consider the heat-generating capability of the equipment and improve its distribution to production environments where heat is needed. Digital tech and the environment: compatible at last?