Meet the next-generation in intelligence

February 27, 2012: 1:01 PM ET

Data has broken outside the typical confines of most companies. Now, guarding against security breaches means looking to world around you.

By Marc van Zadelhoff, contributor

computer-hackerFORTUNE -- Already in the first two months of 2012, high profile hacks are threatening to make 2011, characterized by experts as "The Year of the Security Breach", seem tame. It's becoming a common occurrence to hear about companies and governments falling victim to security attacks.

Therefore it isn't a surprise that today organizations around the world are focused on building up walls and moats around their data centers to protect their assets, information and intellectual property. But as hard it is might be to do, I urge IT and security mangers to lift their heads up and look around and consider a changing reality. Thinking about information security today means thinking about the world around you.

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Information has evolved beyond the four walls of the office and is improving the way we live and work. Cloud computing and smartphones let us access key information wherever we are. More of the world has built-in computerized intelligence in its products and services. Millions and millions of sensors have been deployed around the globe to drive better real-time insight to operations and conditions. Energy, retail and healthcare are just a few of the industries that are now embedded with technology and connected with us in ways that were never before possible.

The challenge is that larger organizations need to monitor hundreds of millions of events per day, even activities that are happening on the edge of their business and outside the datacenter. There's no way humans can sift through that amount of data.

The rapid pace of this expanding threat surface and sources paves the way for a new approach to security -- one that is based on intelligence. Security intelligence applies advanced analytics and automation technology to the collection of information from hundreds of sources across an organization. By combing through data from networks, applications, user activity and mobile endpoints, analytics can help firms better understand a baseline of normal behavior. Then analytics can help a firm more quickly and clearly flag abnormal events to predict, prevent and minimize the impact.

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There's no doubt that technology will continue to expand into our lives and offers great opportunity for our businesses. Going forward, security management is going to be rooted in better understanding our highly connected ecosystem, not by the isolation that the security can create. It's our role as security practitioners to educate our organizations and industries on security's changing nature.

Having a new approach to security -- one defined by greater intelligence, fewer silos and awareness of the world around us -- can help organizations better protect their operations today and plan for tomorrow's innovation. The firms able to evolve their security style with an eye to world around us will be ahead of the pack.

Marc van Zadelhoff has nearly 20 years of experience in strategy, venture capital, business development and marketing in the IT and security space. Currently, Marc is the VP, Worldwide Strategy and Product Management for IBM Security Systems –responsible for overall product management, budget and positioning for IBM's full software portfolio globally. Marc's prior responsibilities at IBM have included leadership roles in M&A, product management and marketing in both software and services. Marc was a member of the executive team of Dutch-based Consul before it sold to IBM and spent the rest of his pre-IBM years in IT venture capital and strategy consulting. Marc lives in Washington, DC.

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