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Ascent Index: Cybersecurity

November 19, 2012
Luke Burns

AT&T last week reported that cybersecurity was a billion dollar opportunity for the company, as attacks on its networks had doubled in the past four months. But it’s not just the telecommunications giant that hopes to seize on the cyber opportunity; many leading companies – be they Google, IBM, General Dynamics or countless others – have acquired information security vendors in response to the growing market need. (For a great read on Fidelis’s acquisition by General Dynamics, read Ascent partner Geoff Oblak’s post from last month: http://ascentvp.com/blog/security-compliance/reflecting-on-a-successful-exit-fidelis-security-systems/.) 

The private sector is not alone in feeling the effects of cyberattacks; President Obama last week signed a directive that sets policy for how the U.S. government handles threats in cyberspace. And the recent hostilities in Gaza have led to an intense cyber attack on Israeli government properties.

So with the release of the presidential cyber directive, corporate data breaches on the rise, the General Petraeus scandal widening into email/internet privacy issues, and October now firmly entrenched as an annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we thought it timely to see how cybersecurity is faring in our Ascent Index. Using technology that allows us to track tweets, blog posts, videos, and more, the index determines how much social play key enterprise IT topics are getting.

Cybersecurity has been surging as a topic of conversation in the social mediasphere. In October,the term received more than 100,000 social mentions. The topic is approaching the highest scoring enterprise IT term – big data – which had nearly 140,000 mentions in the past month, and has consistently topped all mentions since we launched the index in April.

Much of the social media chatter in October focused on cyber security legislation proposed by Congress, and its long odds of actually passing. At the crux of the cyber security political debate is whether the government should mandate certain information security policies for businesses to protect themselves, and whether those policies will indeed help to secure U.S. networks from cyber-attacks. It’s worth noting, as my colleague Matt Fates heard at a cybersecurity gathering at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston last week, that industry-led regulation, such as the PCI compliance initiatives enforced by credit card companies, might be the most effective option toward improving business vulnerability. 

Regardless of what the U.S. government eventually mandates, the bet here is that the need for critical information security solutions will continue to be an area of rapid growth. Ascent portfolio company CloudLock, for example, has fortified the internal security processes of companies that have transitioned to the cloud. Indeed, we are in a perpetual cat and mouse game, and each new innovative IT business approach inevitably opens up a new avenue for security breaches. These new security risks are identified all the time and they are creating new opportunities for innovative companies to address such needs.

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