We saw a massive shift in the way we conduct almost all facets of business and industry this year. Among the many changes we experienced in 2020, we also saw some surprising cybersecurity trends arise.
Some cybersecurity trends were more surprising than others
As an increasing amount of us work from home and continue to rely on transactions and encounters in the digital realm, no industry has felt this pressure more than tech. Many companies’ IT departments are tasked with transforming entire workforces and moving them into a virtual space.
This unprecedented mobilization of the workforce was born to protect employees from COVID-19. But we see strong indicators that many of these changes are staying. Employees working from home have indicated their preference for this arrangement, and employers are taking note.
The Top 5 Cybersecurity Trends of 2021
As a result, we have seen a surge in significant cybersecurity trends that we expect only to continue to grow in the next several years.
1. Cyber Insurance
As the worldwide web’s interconnectivity continues to grow, so do those who look to exploit it.
There is an ongoing arms race between hackers and security specialists, working day and night to get a step on one another.
Unfortunately, we have seen many instances where hackers gain access to the largest companies or even government systems, who often deploy a vast array of cyber-protections with the most advanced technologies.
Many companies have accepted the risk of intrusion and, while devoting significant resources and personnel in protecting their systems, have seen the growing value of cyber insurance.
These plans generally issue coverage against losses through hacking, denial of service attacks, and data destruction.
While we can all work to create systems fortified against cybercrime, sometimes insurance is always a good idea to have in your back pocket. Something to note is that underwriting will be more stringent in 2021 as part of the trend.
In addition, cybersecurity experts like CloudNexus will be more in demand in 2021 due to the shortage of trained professionals.
Now shifting the workforce to employees’ homes instead of offices will add additional risks that insurance companies will have to analyze and underwrite. We foresee these companies using a “best practice” approach when underwriting for home users just as it has for company offices in the past.
You can hear about home user best practices from Jay Rollins, CloudNexus CEO during an industry discussion with the Technology Association of Louisville (TALK) here.
2. Investments in Security Professionals
For many years, technology management has been another cost center for many businesses and corporations. The companies would build IT departments to perform essential maintenance and upkeep of their infrastructure. There may be an application specialist or two on staff with expertise in a functional area but there was never really a separate budget item for cybersecurity.
Almost all businesses have begun to realize their company’s cybersecurity fragility and are now devoting significant resources to it.
The importance of this security aspect has grown so rapidly that almost all large companies now have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), an executive-level position responsible for a business’s information security.
Companies are putting large amounts of resources and dollars into recruiting the next wave of IT-trained students, attending career fairs, offering large salaries, and crafting targeted recruiting pitches.
The need to grow this sector has become so important that businesses and government agencies who usually recruit from the top schools and have traditionally had strict requirements for their workforce are now forgoing those traditions out of sheer desperation to get people in the door. We don’t expect this cybersecurity trend to change anytime soon and expect all education levels to emphasize cybersecurity.
The cybersecurity labor pool has yet to level out. Until then, the cost to hire and keep trained these highly sought-after technology employees will continue to rise much faster than traditional IT roles.
3. Growing Threat of Attack
IT systems have always been vulnerable to attack, and as discussed above, the arms race is in full force. Hackers are always seeking to find a new tool to add to their arsenal. The complexity and intelligence of attacks has been growing since the invention of the internet.
But as we shift to cloud computing, we see an added emphasis on exploiting these systems.
The threat has only grown as workforces turn to an at-home model, requiring companies to increase their capacities rapidly. And at times, this means taking shortcuts that are taken advantage of.
Consider a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) scenario, for example. This is when employees use their home computer to tunnel into their work’s network and ultimately to their workspace computer.
As a result, an initial layer of protection to your healthcare facilities’ VPN is the firewalls and restrictions in place on the employee’s home computer and network. Home computers often have little to no firewall and access restrictions due to convenience. Unfortunately, this makes them a great starting point for unwanted access.
In addition to cloud computing threats, another cybersecurity trend we see is an increasing number of data breaches coming from within the company itself.
Verizon reported in 2019 that 34% of cyber-attacks resulted from internal employees, a trend that is only continuing to grow. Attacks attributed to an inadequate set of security protocols, such as connecting personal USB drives to company computers or employees opening infected email attachments.
These threats will only continue to grow in the years to come—this is one cybersecurity trend that isn’t going away! And we encourage all businesses to perform regularly scheduled and comprehensive threat assessments to protect against them.
4. AI-Powered Solutions
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are increasing our ability to sniff out threats more effectively than ever before. Deep learning algorithms developed to monitor behaviors and traffic that may be a dubious actor’s workings are constantly being updated.
One of the biggest threats to cyber systems is the difficulty in updating and patching in real-time. As new threats become known to the hacker community, technology vendors need to produce patches and repairs to potentially impacted systems quickly.
These affected systems have often relied on their human counterparts to initiate the necessary steps to rectify the weaknesses. With AI, we see the creation of smart enough networks to process their weak points and repair them in live time, leading to less downtime and less stress on IT staff.
These solutions will slowly hit the market over the next few years, and this cybersecurity trend will continue.
Until then, a good security and maintenance plan for your IT department is key in making sure critical systems remain updated with the latest security patches.
Unfortunately, AI isn’t always used for good reason. The bad guys are also using AI and getting smarter using it. They’re using AI to automate breaches that disguise and cover their tracks. Ultimately, this means behavior and breach detection tools can’t detect them.
This cybersecurity trend will continue into 2021 with a race for AI supremacy in cyberspace.
5. IoT Risks
Society races to deliver the most advanced and integrated tech systems, known as the Internet of Things (IoT). During this race, we see a wealth of security blunders associated with these rapid rollouts.
More and more devices rely on internet connectivity as a feature of ease. But this creates numerous new entry points for individuals seeking to access your greater network.
For example, we now have home appliances connected to the internet, something we would never have imagined 20 years ago. And while this is a convenience, many do not consider the risks of having these devices linked to your home or business’s internet.
See, each one of these appliances is a new entry point to your network. And it’s safe to say your home’s fridge wasn’t built with internet security in mind! Now that employee homes connect to business networks from home networked devices, it can actually affect your business network.
We recommend creating a seperate network for your home devices. This isolates them from the network you use to connect to work. Many routers have the ability to create separate guest or other networks.
Additionally, do your homework on IoT devices.
Make sure they’re from an established technology company that has a record of updating its firmware regularly. Many IoT companies roll out new technology only to be shut down or out of business months later. This leaves you with tech that will no longer be updated to protect you.
Cybersecurity trends will continue to evolve in 2021
While cybersecurity trends may be temporary, they are a good indicator of the future to come. As technology advances, we will inevitably run into a new set of challenges in the IT sector.
In the meantime, we see these trends as some of the most challenging cybersecurity issues businesses and individuals face. We encourage all businesses to continue to monitor and educate staff on these issues.
Consider calling CloudNexus today for a comprehensive threat assessment of your business’s IT infrastructure. Click here to schedule a free 15-minute consultation.
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