The technology industry loves buzzwords, and its offspring, the IT industry, is no different: “Cloud computing”, “Big data”, “Analytics”, “XX-As-a-Service (XaaS)”… it seems that some marketing wizard invents a new phrase and almost instantly the industry adopts it and uses it to such an extent that within months it has become a trend, and everybody follows suit, adapting their offerings accordingly. Then comes the day when somebody else invents a new, sexier phrase, and everything shifts again. Most of the time it is hard to assess whether the new trend is actually meaningful as such and will establish itself as mainstream or even core of technology, or is it simply being delighted in as a novelty, soon to be forgotten? The side effect of this cycle is that people in the industry are tiring of buzzwords and are becoming more and more skeptical when “The new, innovative concept” is marketed to them. The general public is even less interested – most only care about new technologies and concepts when they have been proven and incorporated into fully productized gadgets and applications.
And now, following the widely publicized breaches of large retail chains, everyone is talking about Cyber Security, and the question arises – is this just one more buzzword? Not at all, but some mistake it to be so, for several reasons.
First of all, although it appears to be a very young industry, cyber security is not new at all. In fact, it has been incorporated into our lives for over two decades, but under different names – information security, anti-virus etc.
Secondly, it is not a single-faceted industry but a very diverse one comprising older segments – encryption, anti-virus, firewall etc., as well as newer ones: mobile, biometric identification and intelligence.
Although many startups are developing new products, the market as a whole is mature and profitable. The general notion is that cyber companies are run by 20-something-year-olds in their garages, while in fact the young enterprises are fully seeded companies with solid business plans, and the larger companies are huge multinationals (and since the market is consolidating, there are now fewer but much larger players).
So why is it that this vast industry appears so young that it can be mistaken for a passing trend?
In absolute terms, it is relatively young – established in the 1980’s (although by technology standards it can be considered old, much older than the mobile or cloud technologies that it protects today). Also, up until the latest “rebranding”, it was not something most people noticed. IT security sounds boring, and because everything functioned smoothly, no-one worried about how the encryption worked or how viruses were stopped. Fast-forward to today and every news item seems to be entangled in cyber: Snowden and the NSA, the Adobe breach, the Target breach, the international arms race between the U.S., China and Russia – all involve cyber. And since the adoption of Internet and mobile technology, we are all much more exposed to the threat emanating from this world – be it the theft of our personal details or the monitoring of our online activities by various entities. And here’s the good part – the industry is not idle. In fact, it acknowledges the need to evolve to mitigate evolving threats and it is doing so at an extremely rapid pace, trying to come up with solutions for securing things that were not even dreamed of when the first anti-virus was developed. So no, this whole “Cyber” thing is definitely not just another trend. It is here to stay and will accompany us for many years to come. And that is a good thing – since the cybercriminals of the world are DEFINITELY here to stay.