2013 was one heck of a year for cybersecurity and information technology. From the revelations about the U.S. government spying on citizens and companies worldwide to the evolution of the Internet of Things to the radical regulation changes across industries, 2013 raised a lot of questions and concerns about data protection and privacy. These challenges that individuals, business organizations and governments alike experienced over the last year will ebb into new opportunities and risks in 2014.
The return of digital rights management
There is nothing that gets open source and free-Internet activists more worked up than these three letters: D-R-M. While you can debate what is fair about how intellectual property is used and shared on the Internet, the facts of the matter are as follows:
1) Artists and producers are curbing unsanctioned and illegal file sharing
2) Internet thought leaders see the need for some standards to optimize the Web experience.
The first fact comes on the heels of several new regulations and court orders around file-sharing tools such as BitTorrents, including an October court order in the U.K. to put ISP blocks on 21 file sharing sites. The second fact is in reference to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) plans to integrate DRM in HTML5 Web standards.
According to a blog by W3C President Jeff Jaffe, “Most people would agree that individuals and institutions in general should have the right to limit access to proprietary information, or charge for access to content they own. Against this backdrop, the W3C Director has established that work on content protection for the Web is in scope for the HTML Working Group.”
WatchDox is an active participant in providing intellectual property content protection, having already established a firm share of the market in Hollywood for such things as protecting scripts so that actors and producers can securely collaborate on unreleased movies. In 2014, this market will keep growing in the U.S. and abroad, and room for new business models likely will be established as the W3C rolls out new standards and courts continue to make decisions about file-sharing standards.
The Internet of Thing’s effect on data
The Internet of Things really just means that your data is ending up in more places than ever before. From wearable computing to an ever-growing list of smart devices, soon you’ll be able to access your data from almost anywhere and anything. What this underscores is a need for a different approach to security. Rather than focusing on different security barriers, firewalls and perimeter-like defenses haphazardly bolted unto your devices and apps, a data-centric security model will alleviate the need for such a range of protection and break down barriers to collaboration and innovation in the enterprise.
We see the greatest opportunities for software vendors that can balance the usability features of apps and consumer products with the security features and mobile enablement capabilities of more traditional enterprise vendors (like Microsoft). For IT security companies, we believe this will start with those that can provide data-centric security.
The PRISM fallout and how government spying fears affect IT spending
This last trend is the most blatant and impactful facing the security software industry today. Following revelations that the NSA spies on, well, everyone, 2013 became a hallmark year in changing cloud computing spending. Foreign companies and governments are scared to invest in U.S.-based cloud computing, leaving an open wound that will only be replaced by a scar. People now don’t trust the companies that started the Internet and cloud revolutions — the Amazons, the Yahoos, the Apples and the Googles — and probably for good reason. If these companies weren’t turning over their customers’ assets willingly, the NSA was hacking their databases for information anyway.
So, what does this mean for the security industry? Well, for one, companies across silos and segments are going to benefit. People are concerned about their data privacy and are now more likely to allocate additional budget to ensure it. Our customers are, and were at the time of the NSA scandal, certain their data is safe from the prying eyes of the government because they own the encryption keys. Even if WatchDox wanted to turn over clients’ assets, we aren’t able to.
In the wake of the return of DRM, the Internet of Things and the Snowden effect, public and private enterprises are seeking security companies with innovative business models for keeping proprietary data safe, no matter with whom it is shared and no matter from what device it is accessed. Understanding and serving this need is the biggest opportunity for IT security companies in 2014.
Moti Rafalin is the co-founder and CEO of WatchDox, a provider of secure access, file sync and collaboration solutions that enable the confidential sharing of important or sensitive documents in an easy and secure way.