2022 was a very busy year for IT professionals as they grappled with new trends, technologies, tools, workplace models, cyberattacks and more while they helped their organization remain productive and secure. We looked back at our coverage to find common trends in our content to bring you our top 10 stories from this past year.
The distributed work experiment continues
Although some organizations made news by ordering employees back to the office, many organizations are still offering hybrid working arrangements to employees. There have been countless surveys and studies on this issue, and virtually all of them show that employees are demanding some level of flexible working arrangements, so mandating a return to the office will likely lead to turnover.
With organizations now forced to accept hybrid work, IT leaders are turning to technology and new innovations to help keep employees connected. The year saw many new features in videoconferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Webex, as well as new AI-driven hardware to support those platforms.
However, some challenges remain, including mental and physical health, transportation, housing, and a persistent disconnect between the flexible work demands of employees and what executives are willing to offer.
We should continue to see new innovations in technology to support hybrid work models this year as we head into year three of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cloud computing soars
Of course cloud computing is on our list of top IT stories in 2022. Despite a projected IT spending growth of just 0.8% for 2022, IT analyst firm Gartner says public cloud spending is projected to rise by nearly 19% in 2022 and is poised for another big leap in 2023 of nearly 21%. This comes as organizations are looking to the cloud to help support growth amid economic uncertainties as a recession is likely.
Other Gartner research of the thoughts of IT leaders finds that 42% say cloud migration is a top area of investment, and 34% say infrastructure compute and storage are top tech priorities.
However, as organizations navigate a complicated process, they are left with some legacy on-premises systems that can make security and management difficult. To solve those issues, tech companies have been releasing new solutions designed to give IT professionals visibility into their entire infrastructure, including cloud and on-premises.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced employees to work out of their homes, many organizations quickly deployed videoconferencing services such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Webex to communicate and collaborate with their remote colleagues. However, interoperability between those platforms and other major services was staggered, meaning that joining meetings on another platform not supported within the organization was challenging.
However, all of those companies made some efforts to move that needle forward this year. Google recently launched support for embedded bi-directional interoperability on Zoom Rooms and Google Meet devices after it already did the same for Webex devices.
Cisco also announced an integration with Microsoft Teams that enables the Teams Rooms experience on Webex devices.
Also announced this year by Microsoft was Direct Guest Join, a one-touch experience that enables users to join a third-party online meeting from Teams Rooms. Currently, the feature works on Teams Rooms for Zoom and Webex.
Cybersecurity implications from the Russia-Ukraine conflict
For security-minded IT professionals–and especially the ones handling sensitive information about the U.S. government–the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia should give cause for concern. Before the boots-on-the-ground invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, destructive cyberattacks were launched to weaken the government’s response and cripple its infrastructure.
Some of these cyberattacks have since spread to neighboring countries, such as Poland. Moldova, Germany, Romania and other nations that are sympathetic to Ukraine’s cause.
John Fokker, principal engineer and head of cyber investigations for Trellix Threat Labs, says organizations that could be targets of advanced persistent threat actors or nation-states should be paying very close attention.
“Make no mistake—if you have an (advanced persistent threat actor) as a potential threat to your organization, you should take very close notice of what is going on right now,” Fokker says. “From a threat intelligence perspective, I think we’re at a very pivotal moment.”
The conflict is now nearing its one year mark, and the cybersecurity landscape is only more dangerous.
Cybersecurity remains front-page news
Ransomware, phishing, data breaches and other cybersecurity stories have grabbed headlines in recent years, and 2022 was no different, which is why cybersecurity has a heavy presence on our list of top IT stories in 2022.
According to Palo Alto Networks, 96% of all respondents to a recent survey were the victims of a cyber incident or data breach during that time, and 57% saw three or more incidents or breaches. The study also found that a third of all organizations surveyed experienced an operational disruption as a result of a breach in the past year.
Hybrid work is largely to blame, as 84% of executives say hybrid work has played a key role in the increase in cyber incidents over the year.
Zero trust has emerged as a key priority, and identity and access management is now critical to any zero trust initiative. However, attacks are paying attention and have begun targeting identity provides such as Okta, and recent incidents at password management companies continue to put identity security at the forefront.
It’s been about a year since the critical vulnerability in Log4j was discovered, but the bug is still among the most actively exploited.
Despite constant news coverage of the bug, 30% of Log4j instances remained vulnerable to exploitation three months after the bug was discovered, and cybercriminals and ransomware operators everywhere began leveraging the vulnerability, known as Log4Shell.
Even after a year, the Log4Shell story is not over, as nearly three-quarters of organizations remain vulnerable to Log4Shell, Tenable reported last month.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Safety Review Board says Log4Shell will be an “endemic vulnerability” that could remain in systems for a decade or longer.
A busy year for Patch Tuesday
In keeping with the security theme on our list of top IT stories in 2022, Microsoft and its customers had another busy year of patching critical vulnerabilities and zero days, with 917 total vulnerabilities addressed. This is up from last year’s count of 848, but not near the high in 2020, which saw an incredible 1,235 security bugs patched. By our count, Microsoft patched 26 zero-day bugs in 2022.
However, Microsoft did release Windows Autopatch, a new service that automates the process of managing and rolling out updates for Windows and Microsoft 365 apps. Free for customers with Windows Enterprise E3 and E5 licenses, Autopatch essentially automates Patch Tuesday for IT administrators with the goal of improving the customer’s security and productivity.
However, many smaller organizations not on those advanced licenses are still left to apply patches manually.
Windows 11 adoption rises
While we’re on Microsoft, 2022 was the first full year of a campaign to encourage users to update from Windows 10 to Windows 11, and that appears to be paying off somewhat, as the Windows 11 market share has grown to more than 16% after a relatively slow adoption for the first few months.
That slow adoption could be due to the operating system’s hardware requirements, as fewer than 39% of devices were eligible for a Windows 11 upgrade as of May 2022. With the holiday season past us and new Windows 11 devices hitting the market, we expect that number to increase quickly in 2023.
In addition, Microsoft will end support for Windows 10 by October 2025, so organizations have less than three years to make the move to Windows 11 by either upgrading eligible devices or planning a full device refresh.
Microsoft also says Windows 11 will have an annual feature update cadence, with feature updates being released in the second half of the year.
Recession and budgeting
The global economy is on the brink of recession, but IT budgets are still expected to grow as digital business initiatives can help companies survive an economic downturn.
According to Gartner, economic turbulence will impact technology investments, but spending in some areas will increase while others will decrease. Next year’s spending on software is projected to grow by more than 11%, and IT services will grow by nearly 8%. The research firm also found that almost 70% of finance chiefs plan to increase spending on technology to reshape revenue streams, add new products and services and change the value proposition of existing products and services.
“Enterprise IT spending is recession-proof as CEOs and CFOs, rather than cutting IT budgets, are increasing spending on digital business initiatives,” says John-David Lovelock, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner.
Burnout and turnover
The last three years have been very busy for technology professionals as IT professionals had to figure out how to support a remote workforce overnight and new software and services were developed at a rapid pace in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, cyberattacks and ransomware are running rampant, forcing IT and security professionals to work long hours and risk burning themselves out.
One report from email security company Tessian finds that security leaders are working an average of 16.5 hours over their contractual obligations, and about 1 in 5 are working at least 25 extra hours a week.
Another report from Mimecast, also an email security company, finds that 33% of security decision-makers are thinking of leaving their role, and the same percentage say their team sees an increased number of absences due to stress and burnout following a cybersecurity incident.
In IT, especially cybersecurity, finding and retaining talent is one of the biggest issues facing the industry, so getting a handle on this problem is paramount in 2023.
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