2020 was a whirlwind of a year for everyone, but it was especially taxing for cybersecurity professionals. IT teams across the US and the world were put to the test at the rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. From transitioning their teams to work-from-home status, to educating their teams on avoiding cybersecurity threats while working remotely, CISOs and CTOs found themselves putting out proverbial fires for most of 2020. And while we may not know what the new year holds, one of the best ways to predict future cybersecurity trends is to evaluate the recent past. With that in mind, here are 5 trends we are anticipating for 2021.
Nearly every trending cybersecurity mitigation strategy for 2021 centers around one main concern—protecting identities. Identity access management (IAM), a zero-trust security solution that’s gaining significant cybersecurity market share, is the process of managing digital identities by enforcing user-specific, policy-driven permissions. IAM ensures that the right people have access to the right programs at the right time, which is especially important in today’s remote-work environment. We anticipate that IAM will be one of the most researched cybersecurity solutions in 2021. Fortunately, there are already lots of resources available for cybersecurity decision makers to consult, including this checklist.
The future is in the cloud. And the future is now. “The cloud” refers to storing software and services on the internet as opposed to storing information locally, on a computer or server. While many industries, such as financial, insurance, or healthcare, have been reluctant to migrate to the cloud for security reasons, the benefits of doing so include cost savings, increased bandwidth, and greater flexibility and accessibility. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many companies to start thinking about utilizing the cloud, if they are not already using it.
While the cloud itself has been around for many years, a big trend for 2021 will be the use of a distributed cloud. Currently, organizations who are hesitant to use the cloud might utilize a hybrid model, which is comprised of a public/private cloud combination. This enables organizations to retain the responsibility for their data but limits the ability to keep up with the innovations of the public cloud. With the distributed cloud model, however, all data is stored in the public cloud but kept at various locations, which still allows for compliance with regard to keeping data in specific geographic locations.
The COVID-19 crisis exposed the need for migrating legacy systems to digital solutions. One such example is the use of legacy banking systems. Not only did banks have to adjust operations to serve customers remotely, but they also had to accommodate employees working remotely. This two-fold adaptation pushed many smaller banking systems well beyond their comfort level. In addition, many schools and universities were challenged to transition all in-person learning to remote learning. This prompted a wave of IT changes in many different areas, with the cloud being a prevalent one. In a time of virtual learning, it’s as important as ever that students and staff alike are able to access all documents and assignments without being on campus. As a result, in 2021, we’ll see more organizations moving to be more secure, integrated digital solutions.
Phishing/Proactive Cybersecurity Solutions
Phishing attacks were extremely prevalent in 2020 and should be anticipated again in 2021. Unfortunately, these kinds of attacks closely mirrored COVID-19 developments as they unfolded. For example, cybercriminals, aware that employees would be searching for information regarding the pandemic and business operations, posed as employers and were successful in breaching many information security systems. The upside of this misfortune is that IT teams now have insight into when the next wave of attacks might occur and strategies to mitigate the risk.
Endpoint Management Solution
The ability to detect, provision, deploy, update, and troubleshoot endpoint devices, such as desktops, laptops, mobile phones, etc., is critically important in a remote working environment. Employing an endpoint management solution will be a critical part of safeguarding potential entry points from cyber attackers in 2021.
If you're looking to evaluate your cyber maturity across your enterprise, check out this white paper, Assessing Your Cyber Maturity: Is IAM Your Achilles Heel?