SHARED INTEL: Poll highlights the urgency to balance digital resiliency, cybersecurity

By Paul Nicholson

The pace and extent of digital transformation that global enterprise organizations have undergone cannot be overstated.

Related: The criticality of ‘attack surface management’

Massive global macro-economic shifts have fundamentally changed the way companies operate. Remote work already had an impact on IT strategy and the shift to cloud, including hybrid cloud, well before the onset of Covid 19.

Over the past two years, this trend has greatly accelerated, and working practices have been transformed for many workers and organizations.

Yet, with all these changes, the specter of security breaches remains high. This explains the rise and popularity of Zero Trust as a framework for securing networks in these new realities as an effective tool to drive cybersecurity initiatives within the entire enterprise.

Fundamentally, Zero Trust is based on not trusting anyone or anything on your network by default and using least required privilege concepts. Every access attempt by any entity must be validated throughout the network to ensure no unauthorized entity is moving vertically into or laterally within the network undetected.

At the same time, digital resilience has arisen as a top priority for enterprises across all sectors, especially as cyber threats continue to accelerate. Ensuring the maximum uptime and network and application availability is critical to digital business.

Now is an ideal time to explore enterprise perceptions about the future. To gain these insights, A10 Networks surveyed 2,425 senior application and network professionals from across ten regions around the globe. Not surprisingly, there were high levels of concern about digital resiliency, with a strong focus on business continuity.

Four top resiliency trends surfaced in the findings, including: digital resilience is a top priority; cyberthreats are accelerating; private cloud is the preferred environment; and Zero Trust strategies are being implemented to shore up defenses.

Most importantly, all these forces are foundational to more remote and hybrid work as we enter a new phase of living with COVID-19. Additional key features of the enterprise IT landscape that we uncovered included the following:

Private clouds preferred

Some 23 percent of respondents have retained an on-premises environment, and this is unlikely to change for some organizations in the future. Private clouds were the preferred environment for 30 percent of respondents, while just under one quarter said their environment was in a public cloud with a similar percent in SaaS environments.


Looking forward, organizations expect to retain a similar split, with private clouds being the most popular in all regions apart from the U.S. and Eastern Europe, which favor public cloud. This is likely because private clouds give organizations more control over data. Organizations, such as financial services or government, deal with sensitive information and prefer a private cloud model with greater control over the security of applications, users, and data.

Strategy reassessment needed

Resilience has become a board-level discussion as senior leaders look to ensure that the business can cope with future disruption. Enterprise respondents said that digital transformation solutions, business continuity (both technically and organizationally), and stronger security requirements have all become paramount. This puts tremendous pressure on IT professionals to rethink their architectures and IT strategies to meet the challenge.

Asked to rate their concern about 11 different aspects of business resilience, nine out of 10 respondents expressed some level of concern about every issue. The top concerns were around the challenge of optimizing security tools to ensure competitive advantage, using IT resources in the cloud, and enabling remote access and hybrid working while ensuring that staff feel supported in whatever work style they wish to adopt.

Cyber threats impact

High among a broad array of issues is the loss of sensitive assets and data, followed by the disruptive impact of downtime or network lockdown. In response, AI and machine learning have entered mainstream adoption as proven technologies for automation, human error reduction, and increased efficacy.

Meanwhile, there has also been a shift to a Zero Trust security approach. Some 30 percent of enterprise organizations surveyed said that they had already adopted a Zero Trust model.

Looking to the future, the adoption of cybersecurity initiatives will remain high and continue to grow. The increased threat surface that developed under pandemic conditions will require a more pervasive adoption of the Zero Trust model.

Although the urgent demands of the pandemic have lessened, there is unlikely to be any less pressure for IT practitioners, whether in infrastructure or security. Enterprises will be dealing with the impact of these pandemic-related changes for years to come, along with the continued integration of newer technologies, strategies, and evolving standards.

Organizations must meet their multifaceted digital resiliency needs by continuing to invest in modern technologies that will support ongoing digital transformation initiatives while striking the balance between strong Zero Trust defense and operational agility.

About the essayist: Paul Nicholson is senior director, product marketing, at A10 Networks, a San Jose, Calif.-based supplier of security, cloud and application services. He has held technical and management positions at Intel, Pandesic and Secure Computing. 

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