Cloud technology is tipped to play a bigger role in reinforcing the security of enterprises in 2023, serving as the gateway to a "global digital immune system", Google said in its cloud security predictions for 2023.
The projection is among five key scenarios expected next year in the cloud sector, which is likely to witness more intense competition and a more skilled workforce that will combat cyber threats, the unit of Alphabet-owned Google, the world's biggest internet company, said on Wednesday.
"Cloud technology will continue to embrace simplicity across a highly complex security landscape, and become an abstraction-generating machine for identifying, creating and deploying simpler modes of operating securely and autonomically," Phil Venables, chief information security officer of Google Cloud, said in the report.
The adoption of cloud technology is growing because of the increase in data consumption and evolving economic and societal landscapes that have become increasingly digital.
Global end-user spending on public cloud services alone is expected to approach the $600 billion mark in 2023, with inflationary pressures dictating how much growth the industry will be able to carve out, a study by Gartner showed last month.
Cloud will be the de-facto environment for maximum security
Google argues that on-premise environments cannot maintain the same default level of security as cloud environments can in today’s hybrid world.
It is expected that the base security of the cloud, working with an organisation’s protected configuration, will be stronger than any on-premises environment can realistically offer, Mr Venables said.
"For businesses, tapping into the constant security updates the cloud provides will be like tapping into a global digital immune system that is constantly growing in strength," he said.
"In 2023, we’ll see more organisations across sectors transition to the cloud to support better security."
Cyber security workforce to boost capabilities
While there are challenges for companies in securing staff to fill cyber security roles, this will "start tilting in the right direction" as enterprises act to radically improve their talent pool, Google Cloud said.
The global cyber security industry has a 2.5 million jobs gap it must fill to keep up with an evolving digital underworld, Microsoft UAE director Mohammed Arif told The National earlier this year.
Among the steps that would be taken are increasing the cross-training of employees into roles specifically for cyber security, aside from offering more entry-level positions that are tailored to company strategies.
"Cyber security roles are not a monolithic career. There is no typical 'cyber security' role; we’ve evolved, and in 2023 we need to start viewing it as such," Mr Venables said.
Competition will accelerate in the best way
Given the pace and extent of enhancements being made to boost cyber security, improvements in the cloud are expected to scale the capabilities of the industry in 2023.
Google Cloud said that, for the first time in history, the biggest private sector cyber security providers are "working harder than ever" to ensure their products are better. This is critical for big enterprises, governments and critical infrastructure, which are the most likely target for cyber attacks.
Future cyber attacks could be deadlier than actual wars if rogue elements in the digital underworld take aim at critical infrastructure and connected devices, Forcepoint chief executive Manny Rivelo told The National in October.
"This massive, global-scale competition to continue bettering security will continue to be a benefit to all," Mr Venables said.
This will be important, given that the number of "highly professional" cyber-criminal gangs has surged to about 900 from about a dozen five years ago, Kaspersky chief executive Eugene Kaspersky told The National in October.
Tech infrastructure investments to counter malicious behaviour
The increase in malicious cyber activity is likely to continue through 2023, as attackers find new ways to be a step ahead of organisations.
But increased investments to boost cyber security infrastructure will help mitigate any threats, Google Cloud said.
Companies — which are still figuring out how to contain the growing number of threats — will be compelled to implement built-in measures into their infrastructure, instead of including them as an add-on, which will help in the long-term integrity of their systems, Mr Venables said.
"The outlook long term is optimistic, but short-term pessimistic, and I expect organisational approaches in the coming year to continue to be more cautious."
Threat intelligence will be a must
Threat intelligence — the process of gathering information on cyber criminals — will be a staple in organisations in order to better prepare for any attacks, Google Cloud said.
Identifying a rogue actor's motives and operation will help in effectively detecting, investigating and responding to any attack, Mr Venables said.
"Organisations will enhance their consumption of tactical threat intelligence as fuel in their security operations suites."
Google Cloud plans to expand its business in the Middle East as part of the company’s global expansion drive, its chief executive Thomas Kurian told The National last month. It currently has 35 cloud regions live with 106 data centres, and has also announced plans to develop 14 more cloud regions globally.