How Biden’s Cloud Security Executive Order Stacks Up to Industry Expectations

While we’re seeing the effects of larger, more expensive cyberattacks, those effects also ripple out into government policy. The growth of cloud security needs and products reflects the wider world in two major ways: the rise of remote work and increased U.S. federal interest. A recent executive order aims to improve the U.S. federal government’s visibility into digital threats by encouraging industry innovation. Take a look at how these two aspects work together.

Changes in Cloud Security and the Cybersecurity Industry

Of all the things that slowed down in 2020, worldwide spending on information security wasn’t one of them. And it keeps growing. In May 2021, Gartner projected that organizations will spend $150.4 billion on this area by the end of the year. That will be growth of 12.4% — nearly double the rate for 2020.

Some elements will see even higher rates of growth. For instance, Gartner projected that cloud security spending will rise from $595 million to $841 million, an increase of 41.2%. This was followed by data security, infrastructure protection and identity and access management at 17.5%, 16.8% and 15.6%, respectively.

A Reflection of Reality

Gartner’s predictions reflect the wider world in two ways. First, they reflect the extent to which cloud computing security changed in the era of remote work. This interplay, in turn, disrupted the ways in which security teams approach many of their functions.

Take incident response, for example. Prior to 2020, these team members all worked from a central location, which allowed them to share knowledge. This changed when employees began to access cloud-based assets via personal devices connected to their home networks. If an employee’s home network suffers a compromise, the incident response team can’t go to the employee’s home and check it out. The employee might need to send an infected device to the responder instead, which could give attackers a chance to burrow into the affected group’s network and access other assets hosted in the cloud.

Second, Gartner’s forecast matches the federal government’s view of information security following several supply chain attacks. In the beginning of May, for instance, President Joe Biden released an executive order titled Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.

One of the executive order’s sections, “Modernizing Federal Government Security,” aims to improve the U.S. federal government’s visibility into digital threats. It does this by declaring the need to “accelerate movement to secure cloud services, including software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS)”.

The section went on to frame the importance of cloud security in the context of other data protection efforts, such as moving towards a zero trust architecture and deploying an endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution.

Realizing Gartner’s Predictions

The security efforts highlighted by the president cohere with Gartner’s projections for the rest of 2021. Take zero trust. Cloud and mobile networks expand as businesses move along in their digital journeys. There are so many devices to manage that security teams can’t track all of their assets by hand. They need automation to verify the security of those assets on an ongoing basis. That’s what they can get with a robust zero trust model.

At the same time, endpoint security efforts have evolved beyond laptops. The fact that businesses and agencies often now manage not one, but several cloud environments means they need to manage their connections across their entire IT landscape. EDR solutions aren’t in a position to do that without weighing defending teams down with alerts they don’t need. In response, many are looking to extended detection and response (XDR) as a means of streamlining many of their existing tasks and freeing up their security teams’ time.

Dispelling Cloud Security as Its Own Island

The discussions above convey how cloud security is not separate from other elements of an organization’s security program. On the contrary, it blends with and supports efforts to implement zero trust, XDR and other security concepts. Organizations can use this fact to allocate their information security spending and build a holistic program for the year ahead.

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