Three elephants in the room to worry about in IT in 2023

Skyrocketing cost of cyberattacks, stalling data protections, and measuring environmental impact may be IT leaders’ top priorities in 2023.
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2022 may have ended on a dour note for the tech industry, and its investors in particular, but IT remains more important than ever, with clear indications that everyone from corporate execs to governments view tech as a spending priority.

There’s no leaving the problems of yesteryear behind, though. Here’s three of the biggest issues that seem likely to continue to face IT decision-makers as they careen into the unknowns of 2023.

Increasing cost of cyberattacks. By one estimate, the median cost of US cyber incidents was up 80% year over year in 2022. A recent Rubrik Zero Labs survey of more than 1,600 cybersecurity and IT leaders emphasized that the damage goes much further than a dollar sign.

Rubrik Zero Labs Head Steve Stone told IT Brew that cyberattacks increasingly require responses from the VP level to the C-suite. In the survey, 98% reported becoming aware of at least one attack in the year prior, with the average number of attacks within the year being 47. The consequences are “pretty profound,” Stone said, such as 96% of respondents reporting significant emotional or psychological impact, over one-third saying an incident resulted in leadership change, and 41% reporting their organizations suffered a loss of customers.

“If you put any other business metric and said this happened to 98% of organizations last year, and of those 98%, 41% had reputational damage, we would be talking about that nonstop,” Stone said.

Stalling data protection initiatives. Dell’s 2022 Global Data Protection survey of 1,000 IT decision-makers found around two-thirds lacked confidence in their anti-malware measures ability to recover business-critical data after a cyber incident. Zero trust architecture is stalling, according to the report. While 91% said they were aware of or planning to deploy zero-trust architecture, just 12% actually had.

Trends that pose major challenges for data protection include remote work, use of public cloud infrastructure, and distribution across numerous environments, Colm Keegan, Dell Technologies senior consultant for data protection solutions, told IT Brew via email.

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“Many often make the mistake that once their data is in the cloud, it’s secure and protected,” Keegan wrote.

According to Keegan, many organizations end up using anywhere from two to four data protection products in a given environment due to legacy compatibility issues—and Dell’s GDPI research indicates use of fewer providers results in better outcomes from attacks or data loss.

They “may have a legacy data protection solution for older apps, a relatively newer solution to protect virtual and container workloads, and a third to protect SaaS apps like M365,” Keegan wrote. “Likewise, some are even doing cloud storage snapshots (a form of data protection) using a cloud provider’s native tools…It is really difficult to maintain expertise across several different platforms.”

That’s assuming IT teams even know where the data is—72%  respondents cited an inability to track and protect data in DevOps and cloud development processes as one of their top five data protection challenges.

Environmental impact. Aaron Wemhoff, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Villanova University, told IT Brew that while the industry is good at measuring on-site metrics like power consumption or water use, it is still catching up on broader-scope metrics. When it comes to water—an increasingly contentious resource—that means considering not just how much H2O a datacenter uses directly, but holistic consumption (such as power suppliers or construction materials) and its impact on regional water scarcity.

“If it’s directly seen on-site, then it’s the most visible and apparent,” Wemhoff told IT Brew. “Anything beyond that is a little more hidden.”—TM

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Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to software development and gaming, IT Brew delivers the latest news and analysis of trends shaping the IT industry, like only The Brew can.