Due to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout most of 2020, many people and businesses have changed their online habits, and many of these changes are potentially going to be permanent.
With more people relying on the internet for so many activities, cybercriminals now have a much wider attack surface than ever before, and in fact, many hackers are now shifting their targets from enterprises and companies to more vulnerable home networks.
Meaning, cybersecurity is now no longer an issue exclusive for big enterprises and organizations, but smaller businesses and even individuals should really pay extra attention to cybersecurity.
With that being said, below we will discuss some of the most important trends in cybersecurity in 2021.
Remote Workers as The Primary Target of Cybercriminals
Many companies still continue their remote working practices in 2021, and some even are planning to make this practice permanent.
However, with employees working from home, it’s much harder for companies and IT managers to implement and supervise cybersecurity best practices for each individual employee. The thing is, when one of the employees’ devices get infected by malware and then accesses the company’s network, it can compromise your whole network and system.
Cybercriminals will always continue lurking for potential vulnerabilities to exploit, and remote workers with their unsecured devices are definitely easy targets. Adopting new methods and technologies to protect remote workers and their devices will be a primary cybersecurity focus in 2021.
2. The Increasing Threats from Ransomware
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive wave of unemployment all around the world, giving birth to desperate people-turned cybercriminals with financial motivations behind their attacks.
More than 70% of breaches in 2020 involved financial motivations, many of them in the form of ransomware. Ransomware happens when an attacker gains access to a company’s asset (i.e. database) and holds this asset hostage in exchange for financial compensations (commonly cryptocurrency).
Throughout 2021, we can expect the same trend to continue, and the financial industry (i.e. payment gateway, banking, etc.) will continue to be the most threatened party from this type of attack because of the perceived lucrativeness.
3. More Sophisticated Malicious Bots
With how the number of cybercrimes is expected to continue rising throughout 2021, we can also expect more advanced and more aggressive malicious bots to power these attacks.
Bot programmers are increasingly becoming much more skillful and creative in adopting the latest technologies, including AI and machine learning technologies to create more sophisticated bots that can mask themselves as legitimate human users. They can also use various technologies like rotating between hundreds of IP addresses to mask their identities, making detection much more difficult than ever.
To tackle this issue, bot management software like DataDome is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Behavioral-based detection is now a must, or else we won’t be able to properly differentiate between bots and legitimate human users, and between good bots and bad bots.
4. Reduced Cybersecurity Budgets
Due to the economic impacts of the pandemic (again), the average spending in IT has decreased almost 10% in 2020, and the trend is expected to continue in 2021 with so many businesses struggling to stay afloat.
So, IT and especially cybersecurity professionals are forced to be more creative in ensuring the security of their systems while adopting the reduced budgets. Integration of multiple services to optimize cost savings is expected to be a popular solution, and consolidated platforms like SASE (secure access service edge) will be a major trend in 2021.
5. Increasing Demands for Security Talents
Many IT and cybersecurity departments will likely want to add more staff or change the whole security teams altogether to adopt the reduced budgets and adapt to the long-term changes caused by the pandemic.
The good news is due to the increasing threat of cyberattacks, it’s likely that the security positions will be spared from layoffs, and in fact demand for talents seems to have grown considerably. At the time of this writing, there are 521,617 job openings in the U.S. with very low talent supply.
It is likely that remote working in cybersecurity will also be a new trend. In the past, organizations have resisted hiring remote cybersecurity employees due to obvious security concerns (i.e. they have access to your data but you don’t know their whereabouts), but with this talent gap, more organizations are expected to consider remote security workers in 2021.
6. Healthcare-Related Attacks and Concerns
It’s no secret that the pandemic has been very challenging to healthcare organizations, but even amidst all these challenges, cybercriminals are still targeting healthcare-related services including hospitals with various attack vectors.
In 2020, hackers disabled Düsseldorf University Hospital’s computer systems with ransomware, denying a life-threatened patient from treatment.
With these potentially fatal threats, cybersecurity will be an increasing focus in the healthcare industry, especially due to the fact that at the moment, many healthcare organizations simply don’t have enough cybersecurity measures in place.
7. Migration To Cloud
In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, on-premises networks are increasingly being abandoned as many companies are continuing their strides in achieving their digital transformations.
More organizations are expected to adopt zero-trust network access in their cybersecurity approaches not only for data protection but also for securing the identities of staff accessing the cloud.
While in the past most organizations’ approach is to keep the important data and assets on-premise, 2021 is expected to be the year where a total cloud migration finally happens.
As we can see, cybersecurity trends in 2021 are primarily shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially due to the fact how many cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of this pandemic in launching their attacks. Online crimes have nearly grown by 400% throughout the pandemic, and they are not showing any sign of slowdowns.
This, however, shouldn’t prevent organizations from continuing remote work approaches or adopting new technologies. In fact, it is the right time to also update your cybersecurity strategies and infrastructure to minimize the risks of getting hit by cyberattacks.