Navigating the security landscape: Key takeaways from the Digital Summit

Article - Security
By Pal Prekaj|20th October 2023

In the evolving world of cybersecurity, gathering key industry leaders and professionals to discuss the latest trends and challenges is invaluable. The Security Digital Summit, which took place in North America during September, successfully attracted accomplished senior leaders from across the industry, including notable experts such as Tim Lawrence of Synack, Robert Rhame from Veracode, and Mike Leuzinger representing Nationwide. The event also attracted senior executives from AWS, Choesity, Thales, and many others.

Over the span of three informative days, the summit delved deep into crucial themes at the forefront of the security landscape, including risk prioritization, cloud security, and the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). Let’s take a closer look at the key insights garnered from this summit.

The financial perspective

With a total of 101 attendees from 87 unique brands, the combined budget reached a substantial $963 million. This figure represents an increase of $484 million from the previous year, signifying a heightened commitment to bolstering cybersecurity across the industry.


Source: GDS Security Digital Summit, North America (2023)

When we dissect this budget, we find that senior leaders are allocating an average of $7.6 million per security-related project. This amounts to a remarkable 533% increase compared to the previous year, reflecting the industry’s recognition of the ever-growing importance of robust security measures.


Source: GDS Security Digital Summit, North America (2023)

Diving into the specifics, the summit revealed the key focus areas for these substantial budgets. The top project areas identified included:

  1. ATP / Threat intelligence / OSINT: $63 million
  2. Data security: $17 million
  3. Governance / Risk / Compliance: $15 million
  4. Digital transformation: $6.2 million
  5. Vulnerability management: $4.7 million

These areas signify where senior leaders are directing their resources, reflecting the evolving priorities in cybersecurity.

1. Collaboration and partnerships

In our increasingly interconnected world, the paramount concern is cybersecurity resilience. The summit highlighted the rising importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors. Information sharing and resource pooling have become essential strategies in confronting the ever-shifting threat landscape. Recognizing that effective cybersecurity requires a collective effort, organizations are increasingly acknowledging the necessity of working in concert.

2. Risk prioritization and adaptation

Prioritizing risks based on potential impact is crucial in cybersecurity. Organizations should continuously assess, monitor, and mitigate risks through vulnerability assessments and proactive measures such as zero trust frameworks. Balancing security with agility is crucial to avoid hindering business operations.
As aptly noted by Mike Leuzinger, Associate Vice President & Chief Architect, Information Risk Management for Phenom: “We actually started to have some of the zero trust conversations before COVID hit… We went to 100% working from home, and having those zero trust conversations before that and being ready to pivot with our technology was very timely. And, so that helped show the importance of zero trust to be able to deal with the unexpected.”

3. Cybersecurity skills gap

The rapid pace of technological advancement has led to a significant shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. Poll results from the summit emphasized that bridging this gap remains a top concern in 2024, with 35% voting for talent and resources as their highest challenge.


Source: GDS Security Digital Summit, North America (2023)

Addressing the skills gap necessitates investment in training programs, certifications, and continuous learning, with a specific focus on areas like cloud security, which has become a critical skill in the field.

A poll during the session revealed that the two top skills senior leaders want to strengthen as a priority heading in 2024 are threat intelligence (35%) and cloud security (23%).

4. Artificial intelligence (AI) impact

AI and machine learning are revolutionizing the field of cybersecurity by rapidly identifying and responding to threats. However, ethical considerations like privacy, fairness, and transparency must be considered as AI’s role in cybersecurity expands.

Notably, poll results from the summit highlighted generative AI’s ascent as the second most pressing concern for the year 2024. This underscores the increasing significance of generative AI and its potential to address skill gaps while simultaneously posing challenges that require close scrutiny.


Source: GDS Security Digital Summit, North America (2023)

During the summit, the conversation also touched on concerns that over-reliance on AI might reduce the need for critical thinking among the workforce. Senior executives emphasized the importance of retaining critical thinking skills while adopting new technologies.

5. Cultural resistance to change

Organizational culture is critical in reinforcing cybersecurity and accountability, but resistance to change must be addressed. This is problematic when organizations are keen to reinforce their cybersecurity and accountability.
Not surprisingly, poll results reveal the biggest cultural barriers to innovation as resistance to change (48%), collaboration (36%), and psychological safety (8%).


Source: GDS Security Digital Summit, North America (2023)

Based on the poll results, we can see that 84% of the biggest barriers are linked to employees’ attitudes, with more than half of them expressing resistance to change.
With the correct guidelines that are suitable to the company’s approach, AI might help in the future with this problem that constantly emerges from time to time with any company.

In conclusion, the Security Digital Summit provided invaluable insights into the dynamic world of cybersecurity, emphasizing the imperative of collaboration, risk prioritization, skill development, AI integration, and cultural adaptability. With global threats on the rise, organizations must proactively embrace these key takeaways to fortify their security defenses. Promising prospects, including enhanced global collaboration, integrated risk management, and AI-driven advancements, are shaping the path to a more secure digital world.

GDS predictions

  • Enhanced global collaboration: Throughout the years, cyberattacks have become more frequent and complex. It has become apparent that governments and private organizations along with cybersecurity experts must work together to form an international cooperation and share threat intelligence if cybersecurity is to prosper.
  • Integrated risk management: As companies prioritize cybersecurity, they will begin to adopt more risk management strategies, merging them with their risk management structure. This will not only enforce their security but also enable the flow of the operations to run smoother.
  • AI-driven cybersecurity evolution: We can safely say that AI will only continue getting better at detecting and reducing threats. However, as it also advances with moral attention as well such as privacy, fairness, and transparency, AI-powered cybersecurity will continue to stand out further.

Download the full report now for a comprehensive view of the trends that will shape the digital security landscape.

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