Looking back on 2017’s security technology trends

Looking back on 2017’s security technology trends
As we get into the last few weeks of the year, inevitably we start to look forward to what 2018 might hold for the security sector. But while looking forward is obviously important in planning for success, it’s also worthwhile to look back at the past year and see which trends emerged that we either anticipated, or appeared unforeseen.
 

Cybersecurity, the perennial issue

 
In many ways, we can’t really call cybersecurity a trend: it’s now a constant concern for security professionals. Cybercriminals are ever more sophisticated and well-resourced, and tirelessly look to exploit vulnerabilities in technology across all industry sectors. The proliferation of devices connected to the network – the now familiar Internet of Things (IoT) – means that billions of new network access points have been created, each of which, to the cybercriminal, represents an opportunity. Throughout the year, we have highlighted many cybersecurity issues and the ways that businesses can defend themselves against threats, and as we move into 2018 all organisations will need to be vigilant and have ongoing processes in place to ensure the highest levels of cybersecurity.
 

The re-birth of video analytics

 
Johan Paulsson, CTO, Axis Communications

We saw increased use and sophistication of video analytics during 2017. CCTV has previously been purely focused on security-driven applications, but today the analysis of visual data from modern network cameras supports a wide range of functions. Whether used in retail for store optimization and enhancement of the customer experience, in planning smart cities, as a drive towards more sustainable business, or even protecting endangered rhinos in South Africa, the greater ability to analyse the feed of data from network cameras will affect all sectors in the future. In addition, using new, non-visual sensors, the view will become multi-dimensional, providing a richness of data – with the appropriate analytics - that will enable for more rapid and accurate assessment of situations and, therefore, faster escalation, the activation of an appropriate response and the minimization of false alarms.
 

Smart city growth

 
The recent Smart City Expo World Congress, held in Barcelona, was a clear indication of the growing interest in using connected devices and data to improve and enhance the quality of life, safety and security in urban environments. Overall attendance at the event increased significantly and the breadth of organizational functions represented was striking. And while there still seems to be an inconsistent understanding of how to define a smart city, the number of actual cities exhibiting to showcase their smart city credentials, shows that the effective use of connected devices and the data they create is becoming an important part of a city’s global reputation and marketing. However, it still seems that many functions within cities are acting in separate silos: it is only when data is shared seamlessly across all departments and functions that the true value and benefits to citizens will be realised.
 

Security as a service

 
Over the last year, we have seen an increased momentum towards security as a service, with remote hosting and monitoring of video transmitted from a customer’s premises, and the solution managed by a sector-specific specialist. Such models remove a significant management burden, not only freeing up resource, but resulting in an improved level of service, better device management, and strengthened cybersecurity. But even if we have seen uptake in the market in 2017, the real growth is yet to come.
 

A move towards solutions, not product

 
The growth in analytics – and the added insight and value this delivers to organizations in specific sectors – is closely related to another of the trends we predicted at the end of 2016: a move towards integrated solutions rather than specific products. The retail sector is a great example, where we now talk to customers about solutions for store optimization (including specific elements like queue management) and loss prevention rather than specific products. It’s something we’re seeing across all sectors – from education to banking – a desire to solve key business issues and enhance operations, rather than buy a selection of hardware and, in doing so, improving the system reliability, performance and total cost of ownership (TCO).
 

The potential for deep learning

 
In all sectors, one of the hot technology topics in 2017 has been artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. A related area where we saw some initial exploration of in the security sector, and which shows enormous potential, is deep learning. Currently related to the growth in analytics, and the vast amounts of additional data that this is creating. At a relatively basic level, deep learning applications will improve video motion detection, facial recognition, individual tracking and suppression of false alarms. It will aid system design, configuration, optimization and device management. Beyond this, as applications develop, there is significant opportunity for predictive analytics leading to incident prevention: from terrorist incidents to slip and fall accidents; from traffic issues to shoplifting.
 
It is still early days, however. Development is currently fast and unpredictable, and the demands on processing power are massive, but the potential for deep learning, which may ultimately lead to autonomous systems, is huge.
 

Into 2018…

 
Of course, trends don’t start and stop simply as one year ends and a new one starts, and many if not all of the topics above will still have an impact in 2018. But no doubt new trends and issues will emerge during the year, from edge computing to virtual assistants to blockchain’s application beyond cryptocurrency. And, of course, the data privacy implications as GDPR comes into effect will be something all organisations will need to deal with.


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