Understanding Cybersecurity in 2021 and how to protect your organization
The Internet has been mostly positive for global economies (quite an understatement). Countries have embraced it resulting in a more connected world. Now, you can do business or connect with just about anyone in the world.
That connectivity comes at a cost. There are frequent and constant reports of data breaches, malware activity, digital theft, and many other security failures. This trend has escalated rapidly in the last few years, particularly, we have seen a steep growth in cyber theft, with some of the largest organizations in the world becoming victims of cybercrime.
As you probably remember, seven years ago, Adobe reported that 3 million customer credit card records and more than 150 million user records were stolen. Yahoo reported one of the biggest data breaches in 2014 when it announced that all of its 3 billion user accounts were compromised. This trend has seen constant growth, all over the world, with American companies as a constant target for cybercriminals.
We want to help you keep your business safe. Today we're going to cover the biggest security threats for 2021 and how you can safeguard your organization from them.
Understanding Modern Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting an organization's data, network, and servers from any imminent threat like malicious attack, phishing, or hacking. Cybersecurity has become important due to a rapid rise in cases of digital attacks being faced by companies.
According to estimates, cybercrimes are expected to generate a total of $6 trillion in annual damages by 2021, and organizations in every industry are vulnerable. There is a software attack every 39 seconds in the U.S. Thousands of businesses and organizations are affected by it, and consequently so are their clients and customers.
Risks of Insufficient Cybersecurity Preparation
It can result in important financial, reputational, and data losses to your organization or business.
Your organization could also be liable to pay substantial regulatory fines if data regulations are breached.
Personal losses such as identity theft, wherein a hacker can obtain personal and financial information to make transactions or purchases in an employees or clients name.
How Has Cybersecurity Changed in the Last Decade?
Although cyber threats have significantly increased in the last decade, they have been around for a very long time. In fact, the first computer virus was detected in the early 1970s on ARPANET.
Many of the tools available to combat viruses have changed in the past decade. A few years ago, installing anti-virus software on local devices was the prime defense tool and many times it was enough to keep you safe. Now, built-in tools and cloud platforms can detect a malicious attempt to invade your systems.
A decade ago, a corporate virus attack would result in the targeted organization shutting down networks and email servers. Today, however, things have changed. With the use of robust networks and systems architectures designed and developed by cyber experts, your organization can strategically contain and manage everything when a virus is detected.
Preventing Viruses and Malware
Proactive authentication was not prevalent a few years ago, but today it’s an industry standard, every software company uses multi-factor authentication. Organizations today use biometric ID, two-factor auth, physical security, password-protected files, and more. These security measures were unheard of up until the turn of this decade.
We have also seen widespread increase in data encryption at every level, from software companies to government organizations and everything in between. Today’s devices and hardware come with built-in disk encryption, and just about every IT-related website has SSL layer protection by default, this secures data even if the device or system is stolen.
Cybersecurity is evolving rapidly with the expansion of technologies likeAI, blockchain, machine learning, internet of things, and robotics. Defense systems have generally emerged in reaction to evolving cyber threats, with a greater emphasis on prevention than response.
Major Cybersecurity Trends and Vulnerabilities in 2021
Looking ahead, here are our projections for the major security threats that you will need to keep in mind as we enter 2021.
Staff working from home
Due to the current pandemic, most software companies have asked their employees to work from home. WFH is slowly becoming a new normal, with many IT companies claiming that they will allow their employees to WFH permanently.
Although we support this approach, it can give cybercriminals many opportunities to illegally gain access to your systems and infrastructure. Organizations are finding it difficult to implement the same level of security measures for employees working from home as they would within their offices.
Hackers are known to send malicious emails to professionals working from home for the first time. These hacker emails are not subject to the same screening process that IT departments implement on local networks on premise.
Over 3 and a half million cybersecurity IT roles are estimated to go unfilled in 2021. There are a lot of software organizations that have staff shortages in the cybersecurity department.
Hackers are now using emerging technologies like AI to mimic human behavior. To combat these kinds of attacks, organizations will have to use better and more advanced defense tools and they will have to upgrade security measures.
Attackers have been using phishing for a long time, and it's still very common for organization’s staff members to fall into their trap by clicking on malicious emails and spam. Organizations and staff members have to be extremely cautious when opening emails and attachments from untrusted sources in an effort to prevent phishing.
A number of software organizations, including large enterprises, have started to migrate to public and private cloud providers for better storage and security. However, as they adjust this is one aspect that will be on the radar of cybercriminals in 2021, specifically when it comes to cloud hijacking.
According to a study conducted by Verizon, 34% of the reported cyberattacks in 2019 happened due to negligence from someone inside of the organization. These staff members were involved in data breaches either intentionally or unintentionally. Organizations must brace for these internal loopholes in 2021.
Cybersecurity Practices That Are Obsolete
Along with emerging security threats comes an obligation to review the existing security protocols and assess whether these practices are no longer safe and should be discontinued.
Downloading any software from third-party sources or an APK extension should be avoided, always. Instead, users should download software directly from the source or developer's official website.
Companies and organizations should not completely rely on outdated tools and conventional security technologies like password-protected systems and infrastructure as they pose a major threat of data breach, according to the Institute of Security Technology.
Your staff members should not ignore or postpone software updates, as many updates come with enhanced security features that will keep your organization safe. Hackers know your team may be reluctant to update software and they specifically target this hesitations.
How Do You Protect Your Organization from These Security Threats in a Proactive Way?
- Instead of just relying on basic anti-virus software and simple hashed passwords, you must adopt multiple tools, including: software, firewalls, multi-factor authentication, and others in combination with each other to make access to your organization’s systems more secure and harder to crack by hackers.
- Leverage the potential of AI as it helps to fight malicious attacks, breaches, it can give real-time alerts, or reveal social engineering attempts.
- Software developers and firms should ask remote staff members to install and keep antivirus software up to date, allowing your team to detect any suspicious activity and raise a flag in a timely fashion.
- Educate your staff and collaborators by inviting cybersecurity experts for sessions on how to prevent cybercrime and keep your organizations and everyone involved with it safe. Cyber experts will inform your staff about the best practices in the fight against these invisible cyber criminals.
- Companies should think about purchasing cyber-insurance to hedge their financial risk against any such cybercrime. Cyber-insurance is a special type of insurance that insures companies from a possible data breach, ransomware, DDoS, and other such cyber-crimes.
Top cybersecurity practices to have in 2021
- Use Extended Detection and Response. This is a combination of multiple security products built into a single platform. It offers broad and exhaustive coverage against the modern security threats that may arise.
- Have cybersecurity as a high-level goal for 2021 by implementing a cybersecurity policy with best practices and regular coaching and training for your staff members and collaborators so that they understand the importance of having good cybersecurity practices.
- Classify your organization’s data based on importance and sensitivity and add a strong security layer to said data. High-value partitions containing important data should have increased security measures.
- Software developers and firms should start hiring cybersecurity professionals to create a specialized team of cybersecurity. This team should be responsible for data backup, data retrieval, and other security initiatives that will keep your data safe from hackers.
Important Security Considerations for Software Developers and firms
- IT firms should thoroughly vet the software and apps that they are using, including the source of the app, the functions they perform, ownership and licensing, privacy details and terms of service.
- Firms should follow a secure software development lifecycle that takes into account security issues at every stage of the process.
- The app and software present stack must have an owner with full access and accountability for said software. Your firm’s policies should have data classification and security hierarchy based on importance and dara sensitivity.
- Firms need proper backup, storage, and maintenance processes in place to ensure that data can be recovered in case of a breach.
- Development teams should ensure the security of data while in transmission within internal and/or external networks to maintain data integrity at all times. Data encryption must be a key priority when transmitting sensitive data.
At Ultrix Labs we can offer a wide array of services that will help your business to keep its systems and infrastructure secure. We can also develop software that uses modern security practices and ensures that your company complies with regulatory agencies while keeping sensitive user data safe.