You can't plan for everything. (See: global pandemic.) Yet so much of running a successful business is about proper forecasting.
While that certainly includes being an early adopter of key trends, they're only half the battle when it comes to cybersecurity. The rest of the fight centers on threat prevention, even more so now that COVID-19 has spawned a 238% surge in cyberattacks.
If you're one of the 80% of businesses worldwide who plans on increasing their digital security infrastructure in 2021, make sure these trends and threats are part of your calculations.
Cyber scams to intercept
Your IT ecosystem is a delicate landscape that's constantly contending with unseen threats. Fortunately, a little risk management can go a long way. At minimum, prepare to defend against these increasingly common cyber events in 2021:
- Unprotected remote workers. Employees who work from home have emerged as the weak links of data security. According to Bitglass' 2020 Personal device report, even pre-pandemic 82% of companies allowed some sort of bring your own device initiative. Unfortunately, 72% had insufficient BYOD malware and endpoint protection. As a result, cybercriminals have (successfully) prioritized these users in their attacks.
- Shrinking security budgets. The economical shake-up of the past year has forced some businesses to cut their IT spending. To make up necessary budget deficits without leaving themselves vulnerable, Security Magazine predicts, "CSO/CISO/CIOs will turn to technologies that integrate multiple services into one platform to recognize larger cost savings" including secure access service edge (SASE) platforms.
Financial harm appears to be at the heart of a breach about 71% of the time.
- Ransomwear attacks. Financial harm appears to be at the heart of a breach about 71% of the time. To avoid being held financially hostage while your company's sensitive data hangs in the balance, develop a strict protocol about how staff are to handle unverified emails and suspicious downloads, and engage in company-wide training to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Gaps in security skills. Many of the top cyber intrusions are hand-created. It makes sense that they should be hand-fought, too. However, many companies wrongfully assume anti-malware software solutions and built-in firewalls are enough to keep them protected. The truth is, there's nothing more surefire than hiring a professional IT team or individual expert to monitor your operations.
- Phishing spikes. A recent CSO Online article reported, phishing attacks accounted for more than 80% of reported corporate security breaches. In other words, if you safeguard against only one threat, make it this one. Ensure your marketing department is trained in identifying suspicious links, too: They're 38% more likely to click them.
Data security trends to plan for
Once you've locked down your cybersecurity systems, it's important to understand how these 2021 cyber trends are likely to impact your organization.
- Increased location-independent departments. The work world has gone remote — and it's likely to stay that way. To stay safe under this new operating model, Security Boulevard says, "Organizations should consider employing passwordless and multifactor authentication, zero trust security, secure access service edge (SASE) and identity as the new security perimeter."
- Better endpoint management. As your workforce and the devices on your network become more geographically dispersed, securing those endpoints can help update, troubleshoot and protect those devices from cyber criminals.
- Ethical AI. Artificial intelligence has limitless potential for good (and the not-so-good). This year, the emphasis will be on using AI responsibly. Responsible AI can keep potentially biased algorithms in check, monitor automated decisions, prioritize privacy and more.
- Prolific automation. Think robotics, machine learning and AI. These are the types of automation tools that will continue steadily replacing inefficient legacy systems and processes across every industry and department.
- DMARC. The email authentication policy known as domain-based message authentication, reporting and conformance (DMARC) is a supplemental email security process that can help users differentiate the safe from the fake by verifying the sender's domain.
Calculated risks are one thing, but an outright refusal to plan and hope for the best is a recipe for disaster. Instead of leaving your company open to attack, take the time to identify potential risks and gaps in your IT security.