I’m working on a project where I’m having to codify some of my thoughts on the rise of the data security markets, and I’m lumping in application security since I consider the line between those two disciplines far grayer than we usually admit.

This is one of those great projects where I get to reuse a lot of material I’ve already posted (like the Data Security Lifecycle), and finally codify some things I’ve been talking and thinking about that I haven’t had the time to post yet.

Here’s the introduction; designed to explain the rising importance of data security markets to a business audience. The last line is a prediction I’ll highlight for the attention-deficit crowd:

Data and business application security will drive most of the new growth of the security market over the next 3-5 years.

Nothing Earth-shattering, and probably common sense to many of you, but you might find this good fodder to help explain the rise of data security to your non-security folks. At some point I need to convert some of this into real numbers, if I can.

The Rise Of Data Security

Over the past few years we”ve seen a dramatic shift in the electronic threats faced by business and government, but only minor shifts in how organizations protect themselves. In the early days of the Internet, most attackers were mere experimenters or vandals, exploring connected systems and leaving behind the virtual equivalent of graffiti. The most damaging attacks tended to be worms or viruses that disrupted the ability to do business without materially affecting enterprise assets on the back end. The information security industry responded with tools focused on easing this immediate pain, securing the electronic perimeter and filtering out this bad traffic. The practice of “Information security” degraded to mere “network security” with a dash of “host security”. Products such as firewalls, IDS, and antivirus came to dominate the security market. This was a logical response to the disruptive risks at the time- attackers focused on damage and disruption using the network as the primary avenue of attack, and the industry responded with tools and technologies to keep systems running and carry out business.

Beginning around five years ago the main threats began developing away from the attacks of the 1990s and focusing on profitable crime as opposed to mindless vandalism, but our approach to security failed to respond in kind. True, profitable cybercrime always existed, but it only became more common than experimentation and vandalism relatively recently. This is a natural evolution driven by three factors:

Increased skill among attackers and a sufficient talent pool of technically proficient individuals willing to break the law.
A growing volume of financially valuable data online- primarily personal data and corporate intellectual property.
Development of criminal markets to facilitate conversion of this data to money.

Bad guys now have effective skills, something to steal, and a place to sell it.

Most of this crime occurs under the covers, outside the public eye. In many cases it’s because enterprises lack the fundamental capability to detect these attacks. In other cases, as opposed to a business outage that”s difficult to hide, organizations see no reason to publicize that they”ve become victims of crime, potentially putting their partners and customers at risk.

Network security is very successful at limiting the risks it was developed for, but the environment has changed, and new tools and techniques are needed.

These failures have been highlighted over the past 2 years by a combination of regulatory changes and a series of dramatic breaches. Since the passing of the California breach notification law in 2003 (SB 1386) there have been hundreds of reported disclosures of private information- over 500 in 2006 and 2007. The Sarbanes-Oxley act in the United States and similar laws in other nations have highlighted the importance of securing corporate financial data. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) requires companies to better protect credit card data to limit financial fraud. Over 34 U.S. states and Japan have passed breach notification laws similar to California’s, with more nations expected to follow (Australia is in active debate). Other notable laws (mostly in the US) include HIPAA for healthcare, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act for financial services. On the breach front, companies such as SAP and Oracle are ensnared in major industrial espionage lawsuits (Oracle vs. SAP) and nary a day passes without a new headline of supposed Chinese hackers stealing state and industrial secrets from western nations.

The combination of the increase in cybercrime, changing regulations, and public exposures is increasing the attention and resources dedicated to data security. Over the next three years it’s expected that data security issues (and the related application security) will account for over 60% of new enterprise security spending- this includes spending on new technologies, and excludes maintenance of existing technologies such as firewalls and antivirus, which account for most current security costs. Data and business application security will drive most of the new growth of the security market over the next 3-5 years.