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CEOs, CISOs doubling down on cloud-based cybersecurity

By Shannon Williams
Fri 23 Jul 2021

Enterprise leaders who previously viewed cybersecurity as part of traditional infrastructure have shifted to rapidly invest in integrated, cloud-based approaches, according to new research.

The C-Suite Report: Business and Security Strategies for Today’s Unbound Enterprise from global cybersecurity firm, Forcepoint, in partnership with WSJ Intelligence, found the investment has ripple effects on innovation, distributed workforce security and competitive advantages. 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Unbound Enterprise” began to emerge, with operations freed from physical or network infrastructures. The pandemic accelerated this trend, and while some changes made in 2020 were tactical, the significant shift in perception will have far-reaching consequences. 

According to the report, leaders now see cybersecurity as the key to business advantage with 45% stating they have greatly accelerated digital transformation as a result of the pandemic, 48% reporting cybersecurity’s bigger role in enabling innovation and 41% agreeing that it delivers a competitive edge.

“Industry leaders are emphatically pointing to a very different future for cybersecurity,” says Nick Savvides, senior director of strategic business for Forcepoint Asia Pacific. 

“When 90% of leaders believe the biggest challenge is securing anywhere workers and cloud services, it’s clear that infrastructure- or access-oriented security tools can no longer keep up with the needs of today’s unbound enterprise.”

SASE is the New De Facto Standard for Cyber

The research revealed clear indications of how decentralised organisations will develop, with 48% substantially increasing the use of cloud-based cybersecurity systems and 58% recognising the need for a more integrated trust framework. Ninety percent of CEOs have either already adopted SASE (43%) or are currently evaluating SASE with a view to adopt (47%) while 39% have accelerated their adoption of Zero Trust architectures.

Converged, cloud-driven approaches will offer huge advantages as remote workers will have even more autonomy to innovate and drive business, but it also means that leaders must find new ways to secure distributed workforces and cloud applications, and drive collaboration and creativity.

“As enterprises operate their business in a world with seemingly endless options, cybersecurity professionals will need to evolve their roles,” says Elizabeth Nann, executive director of global consumer insights at Wall Street Journal Intelligence. 

“The research showed that CISOs adapted existing strategy, while the pandemic has really opened the eyes and changed the views of CEOs. This suggests that teams now better understand the importance of an integrated security framework with the agility to adapt to a continuously evolving environment – but not everyone has that in place yet.”

The global survey of 508 CEOs and CISOs from industries including healthcare/life science, finance and retail uncovered key findings such as:

Business and Security Landscape Forever Changed: Cybersecurity now Permanently in the Boardroom

  • 74% reallocated funds to cybersecurity programs during COVID-19
  • 53% recognised the need to more tightly integrate cybersecurity capabilities across traditional product boundaries

Moving to Integrated Security to Protect Distributed Enterprises

  • 58% see a need for an integrated “Trust Framework” to accommodate dispersion of users and devices
  • 48% substantially increased cloud-based cybersecurity systems
  • 43% agreed they were challenged to manage an array of products from large number of vendors 

SASE Acceleration – CEOs and CISOs are Bullish on SASE

  • While analysts have estimated 40% of enterprises would embrace SASE by 2024, the WSJ Intelligence report found that COVID-19 may have accelerated this timeline
  • 90% of CEOs and 84% of CISOs indicated they have already adopted or were on a path to adopt SASE
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