Summing up the year that was


I'm a Johnny Cash fan. One of his coolest tunes is a duet with Merle Haggard during which they sing, “That ole' wheel, it's gonna roll around again…”

They were singing about karma, of course, but the idea of things coming full circle, of trends being cyclical, can be inferred here.

This thought could be applied to the information security industry this year. However, in my mind, there does seem to be a new development. So, this left me thinking: If I were to write a headline to sum up 2011, what would be the right fit? Hacktivists wreak havoc in 2011. 2011: The year of the data compromise. Data security goes mainstream in 2011.

Perhaps all these ideas work. After all, we had a mightily busy year.

Arguably, more than any year before, we saw over the last 12 months a few prominent groups rise up to call out what they perceived as questionable practices adopted by government and private entities alike. Their compromises seemingly had no end, and often strived to promote their various political ideologies.

This year also saw organizations of all sizes across all markets hurtling countless data breach notifications through cyberspace to warn millions of customers about some compromise of their personally identifiable information. To say it has been a difficult year for IT security pros is an understatement.

So, could 2011 be coined the year of the breach? Sure. Many experts say, however, it's bound to get worse given the volume of electronic data and the many cybercriminals who are continually honing their skills to get at it.

And this brings me to my last point. At no time in our history have we seen individuals and organizations so dependent on IT. Let's count the ways.

There's the bring-your-own-device movement, along with an astronomically growing number of endpoints.

Companies and government agencies are looking for cost-savings in a dank economy through cloud computing and paperless operations. Every walk of life is tethered to some social networking application. Meanwhile, legislators are worried about protecting electronic records, with compliance mandates becoming finetuned to integrate security technologies, policies and requirements.

Has cybersecurity gone mainstream? I think, yes. As a matter of fact, I think I'll tweet this as I imbibe my margarita at this year's holiday party and further ponder what this might mean for us all in 2012. Here's to you and yours for a prosperous and data security-filled New Year!

Illena Armstrong is editor-in-chief of SC Magazine.

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