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Cybersecurity in 2021: What’s in store?

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As the global population is thrust into yet another year of uncertainty, cybersecurity teams are preparing for new threats they may face next. They are focusing on how to best secure businesses, their users and their data from whatever is up threat actors’ sleeves.

Remote working looks set to stay in place for the majority of organizations globally. Security teams have now put in place robust strategies to protect against this widened attack surface, but cyber-criminals will never stop looking for new ways to adapt to this and target businesses.

Social Engineering is Here to Stay

As employees remain an organization’s main perimeter, cyber-criminals will continue to shift their focus to social engineering attacks to trick individuals. With the vast majority of cyber-attacks starting via email, and virtually 100% of malware relying on user action for the initial compromise, it’s easy to see why this continues to be a successful – and relatively cheap – tool for cyber-criminals.

Attackers are opportunistic and chase trends and popularity to prey on human nature to maximise the success of their social engineering efforts. For example, in March last year, we saw an exponential amount of phishing attempts using COVID-19 themes.

In the same vein, cybersecurity’s ‘most expensive’ problem of the past years – business email compromise (BEC) and email account compromise (EAC) attacks – are only successful due to user interaction and social engineering.

With an extremely unsettled ongoing news agenda, we can only predict that threat actors will continue to use such emotive hooks within their social engineering lures to impose BEC attacks.

Although we predict that BEC’s growth in frequency will slow, it will still be the largest source of cybercrime losses. As BEC actors broaden their toolsets to compromise cloud accounts and organizations’ suppliers and vendors, stopping them will continue to be challenging.

Data Control is Shifting

Collaborative remote working over the past 10 months has forced organizations to open up systems to employees more than ever – ultimately giving them even more access to critical data and information across multiple platforms.

Businesses are trying to do everything virtually. We’re trying to get closer to customers, deliver on our solutions and continue to innovate to keep ahead of the competition and increase bottom lines. With all of this in play, remote access to information has to increase across the board.

It’s critical organizations have increased visibility into this data – their ‘crown jewels’ –  but also into who has access to that data and what they’re doing with that information.

In 2021 and beyond, traditional means of controlling data will be less and less effective, and security teams must realise this.

Ransomware Heads to the Cloud

Remote working is here to stay for the majority of organizations in some capacity. With this, the increased need for virtual collaboration will undoubtedly continue to drive the rapid acceleration of cloud adoption. As cyber-criminals continually follow trends, we expect ransomware attacks will also drift toward the cloud.

Many firms now house substantial portions of their sensitive data in external, cloud-based repositories, for ease of remote access and collaboration. These data stores are often less visible to the security function — and often not as secured or backed up in a way that adversaries can’t also encrypt.

In 2021, security professionals can expect to see ransomware increasingly target cloud storage to maximise impact and increase leverage to boost profits.

Automation Becomes Imperative

Security teams are more stretched than ever and have to essentially do more with less. The shortage of security talent is nothing new and the keyway security functions are going to survive in 2021 and beyond is by automating parts of their role.

To date, automation functionality has typically been addressed by buying additional tools or as bolt-on functions from suppliers. We expect that to change in 2021, as automation becomes more of a standard ‘in the box’ feature for most enterprise security tools.

Security Budgets Will Bounce Back

Resources for many organizations have been constrained during the pandemic. This includes security spending. We hope to see a return to ‘normality’ during 2021 and this will likely be reflected in security budgets which will return to expected levels. Security staffing, however, is not a short-term problem. In fact, many organisations will likely continue struggling to recruit staff for their growing teams. Offering more remote and flexible positions will be crucial for many organizations of all sizes.

People, Processes and Technology Will Integrate More

No matter what tactic or end-goal, cyber-criminals will continue to target people, this year and in many years to come. This is why it’s crucial that a robust security strategy encompasses a mix of people, process and technology.

It is critical that employees are aware of social engineering attempts, how to spot them, how to mitigate them, and more importantly, how to report them. In addition, it’s vital for organizations to put effective security tools in place to remove the guesswork and added stress from already distracted employees. This could be the difference between an attempted and successful attack.

Source: Infosecurity magazine


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