Information technology (IT) security incidents, such as ransomware attacks carried out this year, occasion a large, but reactionary, response from companies and industries; however, this typically happens only after significant damage has been done.
“IT security can no longer be an afterthought as the digital economy accelerates and consumers and organisations become increasingly interconnected. Security must be the foundation on which solutions are built,” says commercial and industrial research firm BMI-TechKnowledge senior analyst Clinton Jacobs.
However, as with many IT disciplines, there is a significant skills shortage in IT security.
The skills shortage is an issue at all levels of expertise, but is particularly acute in the highly skilled segment. A variety of skills are necessary, ranging from the specific to the holistic. Some security providers are creating their own academies to shore up their skills base and, in so doing, are helping the broader IT security industry.
IT security is important but expensive. Customers, therefore, often outsource this function, even though this constitutes an incomplete solution, given that each company requires a high level of individual proactivity and innovation, which necessitates a hybrid in-house and outsourced approach, says Jacobs.
IT security maturity is the journey along a continuum from reactive to proactive; moving from a focus on technology, through addressing IT security issues, and on to ensuring business value through business risk management, explains Jacobs.
“There is a move to a more mature approach in IT security, but this is happening in pockets. Maturity often depends on the industry sector and can vary from organisation to organisation. Customers need a holistic IT security roadmap and a security partner who can accompany them on the journey as the company matures and the risk and security demands increase. IT security has to be more than a grudge purchase,” he avers.
The IT security services market, valued at an estimated R1.9-billion in 2016, is expected to grow at 14.8% a year to R3.75-billion in 2021.
The finance, telecommunications and retail industries are currently the dominant consumers of IT security services.
IT security automation and analytics are two key trends accompanying artificial intelligence's starting to play a significant role in IT security.
One aspect driving security uptake is governance and internal audit, which can range from just getting the boxes ticked to a real tool to ensure an organisation’s information assets are as secure as possible.
Further, personal data legislation is having a significant global impact on how companies secure their data and protect their digital assets.