Look ahead 2016

Forecast 2016: Security takes center stage

After a year of high-profile hacks, security is top of mind for tech execs in 2016.

[SINGLE USE] Richard Borge illustration for Computerworld: Security Takes Center Stage
Richard Borge

When a high-profile cybersecurity attack occurs, like the ones at Target or Home Depot, Sam Redden knows to be ready.

It's almost a given that Redden, chief security officer at Brazos Higher Education Service, a Waco, Texas-based company that services billions of dollars in student loans, will be summoned to brief his worried board of directors.

Redden says he lays the groundwork for such command performances by proactively communicating with the board on an ongoing basis to keep them up to date on everything that IT is doing to protect the enterprise.

Even then, "I wouldn't be foolish enough to say I stay ahead of the bad guys," says Redden. "The bad guys stay ahead of everybody."

That observation is likely the reason why 50% of the 182 IT professionals who participated in Computerworld's Forecast 2016 survey said they plan to increase spending on security technologies in the next 12 months. What's more, when respondents were asked to name the most important technology project currently underway at their organizations, security came in second behind cloud computing.

What's making IT pros anxious? Attackers are getting more numerous, better organized and more powerful. The number of entry points they can use to access vulnerable networks is rising exponentially as televisions, printers, cameras and even cars are IP-enabled. Ever-evolving threats like SYNful Knock now crop up nearly continuously. There simply aren't enough security professionals to go around, and those who are in the job market can command sky-high compensation packages that are out of reach for many companies.

Those are just a few of the security-related issues that IT leaders lose sleep over. Read on for details from CIOs and CISOs on how they're taking action, and how they're making 2016 the year of security.

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