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From fighting fires to driving innovation: how cybersecurity is evolving in 2021


Joe Byrne, AppDynamics

Despite rapid developments in cybersecurity in recent years, some business leaders aren’t aware of security’s emerging role as a driver of innovation for the enterprise.

The security industry and its solutions have grown beyond reactive firefighting in IT, as this is an antiquated view of cybersecurity’s role in business. Now, it’s supporting digital transformation and enabling business strategy, so it should be seen as more than a cost centre.

Here are some of the interesting and notable ways cybersecurity is evolving in 2021.

DevSecOps is the modern methodology of choice
Security professionals and DevOps teams have typically worked on application development separately, in silos. Technologists and CISOs have started to notice that working this way can cause inefficiencies — the biggest being that applications become more prone to cyberattacks. To solve this, the concept of DevSecOps was created as a modern approach to app development that embeds security throughout the entire development lifecycle.

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Instead of waiting for an application to be built before adding security features, DevSecOps integrates built-in security capabilities from the beginning of the development process. With this new approach, a DevSecOps engineer works to make sure apps have the necessary safeguards in place before being delivered to the user. The icing on the cake? This also ensures apps are continuously secure during updates.

Observability and application security are integrating to simplify vulnerability management
The accelerated digital transformation of the past year created a need to navigate the growing tech sprawl of legacy and cloud technologies. Using a full-stack observability platform, enterprises can cut through the noise and stay ahead of slowdowns, issues or security threats. This enables all teams, from app development, infrastructure, networking, security, to business leaders, to have the same visibility into the business impact of enterprise applications.

The caveat is most observability platforms available don’t offer capabilities for identifying, managing, and fixing security issues. Yet, organizations are realizing the importance of security when implementing an application observability tool and are now looking for this type of offering. Cue the rise of the full-stack observability platform with business context and application security built-in. This integrated solution is better able to keep business and customer assets safe, enabling better experiences for both customers and employees.

Board members are becoming directly engaged with cybersecurity
The technological advancement of digital tools is not the only factor at play in the growing role of cybersecurity. In addition to embracing modern solutions and encouraging collaboration between departments, board-level members of enterprises are looking to be better informed on security strategy.

This creates an important opportunity for CISOs. They can now create reporting methods that demonstrate the value of cybersecurity to the business. Cybersecurity risk quantification is a growing trend that assigns a dollar value to probabilities of future losses from cybersecurity breaches. For those using the latest tools and strategies effectively, they’ll be able to make a compelling case for the important role of cybersecurity in supporting their overall business strategy.

Embrace cybersecurity for all it can offer
A modern approach to cybersecurity leverages better, newer methodologies for application development and combines observability and application security into a single solution. It also shows a positive return on investment to prove the important connection between cybersecurity and a great customer experience.

Yet, as enterprises and their technology teams continue to digitally transform, both technology sprawl and data sprawl will increase complexity for the business. This means the old approach of including cybersecurity as an afterthought isn’t going to cut it. Protecting the entire digital business needs to become a core value. Business leaders who embrace this sooner rather than later will reap the benefits of holistic digital transformation across the enterprise.

Joe Byrne is a Regional CTO at AppDynamics, a part of Cisco. His primary focus is on working with customers and prospects on APM strategy and helping with digital transformations. He also works closely with sales, marketing, product and engineering on product strategy. Prior to AppDynamics, Byrne held technology leadership roles at Albertsons, EllieMae and Johnson and Johnson.