New privacy laws are popping up state by state, regulation around data privacy continues to expand in the EU and attention on cybercrime is at an all-time high. Coalfire’s Adam Shnider explores what the coming decade may bring.
The trend toward elevating cybersecurity and compliance to the board level has become cliché, but such initiatives were barely on corporate radars 10 years ago. After the massive mid-decade retail breaches that cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars – even after having been deemed compliant – cybersecurity rose to prominence atop corporate agendas. Today, most company boards have recruited security and compliance experts as directors and advisors (and Wall Street has lost all patience with any public company compliance gaps).
Ten years ago, compliance for many companies was synonymous with security. With the new decade, compliance is a performance marker and considered a reliable starting point – a critical means to an end, not the end in itself. What’s new is that all compliance professionals must now adjust to this dramatic moment in digital history: the wild ride into the unlimited computing power of the cloud.
Here are a few of the major compliance trends to consider as almost every organization, public and private, expands its IT focus in the 2020s.
Privacy is Front and Center
From the compliance perspective, privacy takes center stage. With proliferating privacy regulations, security professionals must react and adjust on the fly across what has become a legal minefield. While privacy has mostly been managed by legal departments and seen as a side note of the security ecosystem, privacy will continue to be elevated as a priority, considering that it ties directly to data protection.
The federal government is making privacy a priority, there’s more technical testing coming from the threat perspective and we’re seeing new privacy regulations popping up state by state.
As regulation around privacy expands in the U.S. and Europe, there must be compliance validation. The EU will have to come to terms with new standards in order to meet the data protection and privacy requirements that are laid out in the GDPR. The prevailing ISO standard is a good place to start. California’s CCPA echoes the GDPR and was passed by voters; customers and market forces are taking charge. Developments to watch include cloud providers extending GDPR and CCPA data subject rights to all jurisdictions.
Thousands of corporations count government as their biggest client. Not long ago, cybersecurity in government was found primarily in mission-critical Department of Defense (DOD) systems and was mostly an afterthought in civilian agencies. Entering the new decade, all federal agencies have adopted a “security first” approach to everything. Whether it’s new systems and applications or retrofitting legacy programs, security will be the first element taken into consideration.
Compliance standards will expand around vendor and supply-chain security and will require more testing. Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program requirements start rolling out in 2020, and all 300,000+ defense contractors – all of them – must achieve some level of certification to respond to federal RFPs. The complex audit and assessment mission that lies ahead will be monumental.
With CMMC, the DOD is setting the pace for the entire federal government as other agencies watch and wait. We can expect this trend to affect more commercial businesses and utilities serving the public sector, defining the new security first mentality for just about all organizations in the new decade and beyond. Evolving government standards are upping the private sector’s game in protecting data and securing supply chains. The effects will be contagious.
Voting Systems Drive Compliance
With the upcoming political season, major revisions are underway with Voluntary Voting Security (VVS) guidelines placing more priority on cybercrime defense. Given what happened in 2016, issues surrounding hacking in general and election integrity in particular have caught the attention of millions of people, and cyber will be a primary media focus in 2020. Though there is little public confidence that threats have been addressed, mass-market awareness about cybersecurity has increased dramatically.
The long-term issues rising up from the seasonality of politics are here to stay with more state and federal regulations, more sophisticated corporate policies and stricter employee guidelines all in flux and adjusting to confront social media abuse and communications platform interference.
For compliance professionals, this new decade will be no different than the past in that, as always, they will be put to the test, held accountable, and expected to bear up under inevitable performance pressure and audit fatigue. However, with new methodologies helping to reduce compliance burdens and with automation helping to reduce human error, the compliance community will turn the corner as it adopts more modern methods and turns its attention toward mission-critical functions moving to the cloud. CISOs are gaining a better understanding of cloud-based vulnerabilities, and priority issues are coming into clearer focus as they manage cloud assets and related applications by consolidating, simplifying and automating more of the workloads to improve performance and reduce risk.
The challenges to ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability of IT resources and data have never been greater, and the cost-savings and productivity gains will be greater as well. Compliance has matured to become a critical discipline that endlessly answers the questions executives and boards should be asking before, during and after cyberattacks – and the questions every investor will now be asking before every merger, acquisition or stock buy.