Top trends shaping global networking in 2023
WiFi 6 and cybersecurity are going to dominate the next 12 months. This will be a time of maturation for these technologies, which went from zero to hero during the pandemic. In cybersecurity, organizations will play catch-up to protect their newly expanded networks. Meanwhile, WiFi 6 will unleash business potential and finally take its rightful place at the center of industry growth.
The shift toward endpoint security will speed up
Far from being a pandemic-only stopgap measure, hybrid working is here to stay. However, this new work environment has become a hotbed for cyberattacks, which reached plague-like proportions in 2021 and 2022. Moreover, with third-party risks intensifying, more than half of organizations will use cybersecurity risk as a key determinant when conducting business and transactions with third parties.1 The silver lining here is that businesses are acknowledging cybercrimes like ransomware as an existential threat, and are taking proactive actions on cybersecurity and data protection.
That growing cybersecurity awareness is heartening. However, many organizations are relying on existing solutions like conventional security gateways. This piecemeal approach is dangerously inept in deflecting the wide scope of threats facing modern networks. After all, more roaming users, devices, and apps means more entry points for attacks, especially when access to web apps is left open, work devices are used for personal banking or social media, and successful phishing attacks. Trying to get every user to follow company security policies on all their devices is like herding cats.
That’s why, as 2022 progressed, we weren’t surprised by the uptick in clients wanting cloud-based endpoint security that can monitor and control security settings across all employee devices. In 2023, this shift in favor of endpoint security will become a fully fledged trend. In fact, by 2025, 80% of enterprises plan to unify their web, cloud service, and private application access with a single vendor’s security service, while 60% will adopt a zero-trust security approach.2
These unified, single-vendor solutions take the same security controls in place at a company HQ or branch office (e.g., content filtering) and apply them to remote workers (ideally across all operating systems), thus offering consistent protection for all endpoints, including of web, private access, and SaaS apps. With their centralized interfaces and greater integration, these solutions also have significant upside when it comes to ease of management and efficiency.
2023 will be a perfect storm for WiFi 6/6E adoption
Promising high speeds and low latencies, WiFi 6 offers obvious competitive benefits. Hotels, schools, factories, and healthcare facilities are already investing in WiFi 6-powered networks to deliver mission-critical applications and services that were impossible previously.
Although the standard was officially introduced in 2018, it wasn’t until 2022 that we hit a critical mass of compatible equipment that will allow WiFi 6’s potential to be realized. In the first quarter alone, WiFi 6 access points accounted for 70% of revenue and 59% of shipments in the dependent AP market segment.3
This trend will naturally gather pace in 2023 – and it will gain extra momentum thanks to two factors.
First is the return to the office. For those businesses that saw empty desks as a reason to delay upgrading to WiFi 6 and the latest WiFi 6E, this return is a compelling reason to finally pull the trigger – especially as surveys show that efficiency-improving technology (rather than perks like free coffee) is key to luring staff back.4
Hybrid and remote working are here to stay, however, and home networks will be the second growth driver of WiFi 6 adoption in 2023. With a range of consumer and prosumer WiFi 6 and 6E products finally available, home office and prosumer users can now benefit from enterprise-grade wireless technology. That means increased efficiency and capacity with reduced latency for seamless remote working and home entertainment experiences.
Interestingly, a sub-trend we’re seeing emerge within the WiFi 6 migration is the scramble for requisite data security and privacy. Small businesses especially are seeking better protection, while consumers are increasingly concerned about how their online activity is monitored and tracked.5 We’re betting on this trend ramping up in 2023 due to the emergence of solutions like Connect & Protect that ensure everything and everyone connected to a network is protected in a user-friendly package. With all security settings pre-defined, the configuration and operation of devices can be managed remotely and easily on a single platform via the cloud, making these solutions a favourite of small or micro businesses that offer WiFi hotspot services but have no security measures in place, such as B&Bs and small coffee shops.
These access point security solutions can filter out malicious websites and other unsafe web content to prevent security breaches and personal or business data leaks. And in the case of Connect & Protect, easy-to-understand visual reports of online activity are available, offering anonymized data to protect WiFi users’ privacy when accessing the web through public hotspots and guest networks.