Wendi Whitmore, SVP of Unit 42 speaks at Palo Alto Ignite ’22.

Dec 20 2022

Palo Alto Ignite ’22: Why Cybersecurity Depends on Digital Transformation

From consolidating services to embracing artificial intelligence, here’s what IT leaders should know.

At this year’s Palo Alto Ignite ’22, hosted by Palo Alto Networks, experts showcased why 2022 was a year of many cyberattacks and expert crisis management. IT leaders at the conference predict the disruption may continue because cybersecurity is experiencing a moment of radical change. The move to remote and hybrid work started the cyber revolution, but now it's in full tilt: Digital transformation is driving companies to the cloud, the proliferation of Internet of Things devices is exposing new security vulnerabilities, and cybercriminals are exploiting new attack vectors.

The conference also outlined several core changes that IT leaders need to address, such as platform modernization to replace legacy infrastructure, a proven source of software vulnerability.

IT leaders also need to embrace unified platform solutions that make the scale of cyberthreats more manageable. Plus, they should plan to invest in automated SecOps and make space for racial and gender diversity to foster the next generation of cyber professionals. Here are the core takeaways and what IT decision-makers should know.

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Cybersecurity Must Be Folded into Every Layer of Infrastructure

As businesses combat the ever-changing threat landscape, it’s time to reimagine cybersecurity architecture from the ground up. As Palo Alto Networks CEO Nikesh Arora explained in his keynote session, IT leaders cannot keep putting Band-Aids on problems. It’s no longer “a matter of compliance but a strategic imperative,” notes a Palo Alto Networks survey, “What’s Next in Cyber: A Global Executive Pulse Check.” Incorporating security at this level will be difficult but ultimately will make defenses more consistent and set the stage for a modernized, platform-oriented approach.

Cybersecurity Will Continue to Be a High-Priority Investment

According to the survey, 68 percent of companies expect a significant increase in cyber budgets come 2023. But where should CEOs allocate these dollars? Experts recommend investing in 5G networks, the Internet of Things and AI to improve operational efficiency.

DISCOVER: How IT leaders are reflecting on the biggest cybersecurity threats of 2022.

AI-Led SecOps Is the Future

Securing data is a top concern for executives. For Nir Zuk, Palo Alto Networks founder and CTO, securing data starts with deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning in SecOps. Right now, there are too many security threats per second, and no human can handle them all. Zuk laid out a vision for an AI-led, human-overseen system that accelerates early detection of threats.

Palo Alto ignite 2022 Photo

Participants gathered for a breakout session at Ignite ’22. 

Fewer Security Tools, More Platform Consolidation

Organizations have too many tools and not enough consolidation. Managing 10-plus vendors creates security gaps, making it easier for hackers. On average, organizations use 366 unique apps to manage cyberattacks, according to the Palo Alto Networks 2022 global survey.

Arora added that a single customer may have more than 30 cybersecurity services or apps. “We as an industry put the onus on the customer to integrate all these apps together. But that only increases the chance of error and disruption,” he said.

FIND OUT: How organizations hope to achieve comprehensive zero trust.

Reducing the number of security solutions is a shared goal. That’s why Palo Alto Networks presented a new unified security option, Cortex XDR. This technology eases every step of detection and response by gathering and integrating, all in one place, security data from multiple sources. Cortex XDR has been endorsed by Gartner and Forrester for its ability to break down security silos and fight cyberattacks with AI. Experts predict that more companies will start to consolidate their security services in favor of unified platforms.

Why Women May Solve the Cybersecurity Staffing Shortage

Even with the help of AI-led SecOps teams, there’s still a sizable staffing shortage in IT security, with more than 3.5 million cybersecurity roles standing vacant, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Hiring women is a great way to close the gender gap. As Wendi Whitmore, senior vice president of Palo Alto Network’s Unit 42 explained, “If the goal is to out-innovate our attackers, then leaders and hiring managers need to be thinking about cultivating a diverse cross-section of intelligent people.”

Wendi Whitmore quote
If the goal is to out-innovate our attackers, then leaders and hiring managers need to be thinking about cultivating a diverse cross-section of intelligent people.”

Wendi Whitmore SVP, Unit 42

Cybersecurity Solutions That Secure Data and Promote Innovation 

Reimagining cybersecurity architecture is an ambitious endeavor, but once businesses deploy unified platform solutions, the goal is in reach. As Ory Segal, CTO of Prisma Cloud at Palo Alto Networks, explained in an Ignite ’22 session, “each of these cybersecurity applications speaks a different language. It’s impossible to triage with so many tools.”

Consolidating cybersecurity technologies and giving business leaders more direction on where to focus their efforts will improve the current threat landscape. “The threats aren’t going to stop. But we can be more strategic about how we fight them,” said Segal.

Keep this page bookmarked for articles from the event, and follow us on Twitter at @BizTechMagazine and the official conference Twitter feed, @PALiveCommunity.

Photos courtesy of Palo Alto Networks

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