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How Global Turmoil and Inflation Will Impact Cybersecurity and Data Management in 2023

Global economics and geopolitics have complicated matters for cybersecurity experts in 2022. Will this continue into the coming year?

What a year we’ve had. As soon as the COVID pandemic waned and we grew hopeful that we could get back to business as usual, new challenges emerged, some making businesses rethink their business and IT operations. Now, organizations are grappling with macroeconomic pressures from pandemic-related inflation, which is now pervasive globally.

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In addition to this inflation, which is causing economic turmoil worldwide, rising global tensions between the east and the west, fueled by the ongoing war in Ukraine, are already leading to increasing threat of cyberattacks. Unlike profit-motivated ransomware attacks, a recent spate of politically motivated attacks by hacktivists targeted NATO allies, knocking government websites offline across the U.S.

The following three trends will force IT and data professionals to reassess their data, cloud, and security strategies in 2023.

Trend #1: Rising energy costs will drive better data management policies

Rising energy costs will force businesses to become more cost-conscious about each terabyte of data they store, leading them to create and execute better policies for end-of-life data management in 2023. Ireland is acutely aware of this problem as data centers accounted for 14 percent of all electricity used in 2021, putting extreme pressure on the country’s power grid.

One mistake many companies make during a cloud migration is to bring all of their data with them -- whether it’s needed or not. Not only is this a waste of resources it also contributes to higher cloud storage costs.

This highlights the importance of properly identifying and classifying data before cloud migration even starts. Using an automated solution that separates data that must be retained for legal, financial, or compliance purposes can save time. The bigger challenge is in determining which data is still useful, current, and necessary, and which can be eliminated through secure data sanitization.

Trend #2: Cloudflation will reach an inflection point in 2023 

Over the past few years, companies have been focused on migrating physical data centers to the cloud as part of larger digital transformation initiatives and to better enable team collaboration while employees worked remotely. However, public cloud pricing continues to increase due to rising costs for everything from energy to labor and the price of components.

Gartner predicts worldwide spending on public cloud services will grow nearly 21 percent to more than $591 billion in 2023; companies across the globe have already started to tighten budgets as an economic slowdown and rising interest rates take their toll. As a result, 2023 will be the year organizations get smarter about their cloud spending. This includes re-evaluating their overall cloud strategy to determine whether a more flexible multicloud/hybrid cloud strategy is the right option.

Companies should also closely monitor the data they’re paying to store in the cloud. By being diligent about properly identifying, classifying, and weeding out redundant, obsolete, and trivial (ROT) data, companies can decrease the attack surface available to hackers and reduce their overall cloud investment. It is imperative that ROT data be eradicated from every device -- including desktops, laptops, and solid state drives -- through secure data sanitization to ensure company information and customer PII is irretrievable and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Not only will this approach enable companies to better manage cloud expenditures, it also boosts their overall security profile and decreases the potential for fines or lawsuits due to data breaches.

Trend #3: Rising global tensions will threaten data security and put companies on high alert in 2023

As mentioned, rising geopolitical tensions between China, Russia, and NATO allies are responsible for increased cybersecurity threats. This will lead to companies tightening security measures in 2023. With healthcare, financial, defense, and public utility sectors facing new threats from politically motivated bad actors, the organizations with cloud-based IT operations should consider employing “data geofencing” through contractual agreements with their cloud providers -- many of which store data in global data centers -- to ensure data is kept within designated regions due to national security concerns and local legal requirements.

Organizations in highly regulated industries must be on high alert to protect data and websites against DDoS attacks and phishing expeditions. Data management and cybersecurity professionals should work together to devise and execute new strategies that “meet the moment” and mitigate the potential for critical customer and corporate data eventually winding up on the Dark Web.

One way data teams can support company security policies is by “flipping the script” on data asset management. They can create and execute data strategies that take a holistic approach to the management of data through its complete life cycle with regular evaluations that make sure unstructured data is classified and data retention policies are adhered to.

Data classification is even more important for companies in heavily regulated industries. For example, in addition to HIPAA (which regulates patient data privacy), healthcare providers must adhere to rules regarding how long they must keep patient records. In addition, the more recent Cures Act supports the use of electronic health information as well as the seamless and secure access and exchange of this information.

Ready or Not, Here We Come

Organizations and their IT teams have put out many fires over the past few years -- from quickly equipping their coworkers to work remotely in response to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic to handling supply chain delays that threatened company profitability (and reputation). Companies have found that prioritizing agility allowed them to survive -- and thrive -- a skill that will allow them to take on the challenges we’ll face in 2023.

About the Author

As Blancco’s vice president and general manager of international sales, Fredrik Forslund has more than 20 years of experience in IT security. This includes most recently leading Blancco's data center and cloud erasure initiatives and before that, founding SafeIT, a security software company focusing on encryption and selective data erasure. With a keen eye for streamlining corporate IT security efficiencies and maintaining compliance with data privacy legislation, he is regarded as a thought leader by both customers and partners. You can contact the author on LinkedIn or find Blancco on Twitter.

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