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Cisco and IBM announce historic cybersecurity partnership

May 31, 20174 mins

Tech giants join forces amidst a severe workforce shortage, putting customers ahead of competition

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Two years ago, Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO at IBM Corp., said, “We believe that data is the phenomenon of our time. It is the world’s new natural resource. It is the new basis of competitive advantage, and it is transforming every profession and industry. If all of this is true—even inevitable—then cyber crime, by definition, is the greatest threat to every profession, every industry, every company in the world.”

Rometty was right on the money. Cyber criminals are expected to cost the world $6 trillion in damages by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015—when she prophesied the hacker threat to CISOs, CIOs, and CEOs from 123 companies in 24 industries at an IBM Security Summit in New York City.

In response to a potential hackerpocalypse, the world is expected spend more than $1 trillion cumulatively on cybersecurity products and services over the next five years.

Despite the growing investment by organizations into defending and protecting their apps, data, devices, infrastructure and people, security leaders are behind the eight ball.

Black hat hackers have the upper hand over white hats. The black hats are more daring and experienced, and they are getting away with a soaring number of cyber crimes.

“Speed is where the black hats have the advantage,” said Dr. Anita D’Amico, CEO at Code Dx, an application security company. D’Amico is also a human factors psychologist, a specialist in cybersecurity situational awareness, and a security researcher who was previously head of Northrop Grumman’s first Information Warfare team.

D’Amico continued:

“Right now about 11 percent of compromises are accomplished within seconds, and another 82 percent in under an hour. The attackers work nimbly and without rules. The attackers, by nature, abhor rules and will break them.

“The defenders, by contrast, often are encumbered by rules of engagement and permissions, and so the defensive response is slow, measured in hours or days. Even white hat hackers who are paid to penetrate an enterprise by its own organization have to work within boundaries and rules that are not there for the black hats.”

A severe cybersecurity workforce shortage—which is predicted to result in 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings globally by 2021, up from a previous tally of 1 million—is putting more pressure on organizations and CISOs in their battle against cyber crime.

Cisco, IBM join forces to fight cyber criminals

Cisco and IBM announced an historic partnership today in the war against cyber criminals. Joining forces, they become a two-headed cyberfighting monster.

While the relationship brings technology collaboration and integration to Cisco and IBM customers, it also brings two armies of cyber experts. The tech giants are two of the top 10 cybersecurity startup acquirers. With 40 security acquisitions under their collective belts, Cisco and IBM have snapped up some of the top information security talent along the way. IBM Security alone employs more than 8,000 people globally.

One of the core issues impacting security teams is the proliferation of security tools that do not communicate or integrate, according to the press release that announced the new partnership.

A recent Cisco survey of 3,000 chief security officers found that 65 percent of their organizations use between six and 50 different security products. Managing such complexity challenges over-stretched security teams and can lead to potential gaps in security.

The Cisco and IBM Security relationship is focused on helping organizations reduce the time required to detect and mitigate threats, offering organizations integrated tools to help them automate a threat response with greater speed and accuracy.

IBM Security and the Cisco Security Group, which generate $2 billion-plus apiece in annual revenues, both focus on Fortune 500, Global 2000, and mid-sized to large enterprises. While there may be a perception that the two businesses are locked in a head-to-head competition, in reality it is a coopetition that puts their respective customers first.


Steve Morgan is the founder and CEO at Cybersecurity Ventures and editor in chief of the Cybersecurity Market Report. The Cybersecurity Market Report is published quarterly and covers the business of cybersecurity, including global market sizing and industry forecasts from consolidated research by IT analyst firms, emerging trends, employment, the federal sector, hot companies to watch, notable M&A, investment and IPO activity, and more.