Cybersecurity Trends to Watch Out For in 2021

How has the IT Security landscape changed?

The year 2020 saw the global pandemic of COVID-19 making the entire world switch to remote working, shaking up IT security practices and corporate standards that workers and businesses have been accustomed to.

Experts have looked back at some key aspects that shaped cybersecurity during the year of the pandemic and made some important predictions. While the world remains in the grip of the virus; making projections into the future is as hard as ever. But if there is something we know, is that cyberattacks have evolved and spiked – and the need to safeguard organisations against threats is an absolute must.

The overnight shift to remote working has been critical to many organisations. Cybercriminals have pounced on the innate vulnerabilities of dispersed workforces and their IT systems, looking for gaps to exploit.

Here are some cyber security predictions based on the latest trends in IT security, and some tips for businesses to stay alert and keep protected against risks.

Trends in cyber security impacting remote working1. Increased ransomware attacks due to remote working

The escalation in ransomware threats has been a notable trend for the past months. Ransomware is a form of cyber-extortion, and while it has been going strong for many years, it took a turn for the worse in recent months.

More and more ransomware attackers have focused on tightening the screw on the victims with data exfiltration and extorsion. Some of the latest attacks have seen malicious operators innovating with their threats to publish, sell or auction stolen data if no payment is made.

With attackers deploying a range of new and more complex ways to ensnare their victims, businesses have had to innovate to stay protected against risks. The focus is on assessing their preparedness to fend off attacks.

Many remote workers are using their own devices and personal Wi-Fi connection for work. This practice is not as protective and strong as a corporate network, leaving them at risk of attacks.

As employees keep using their own networks, we can expect cybercriminals to continue to take advantage of the situation.

But we also expect businesses to become more adept and tighten up their security protocols for remote employees.

In the meantime, remote workers will need to stay alert and watch out for scams and other phishing attacks.

2. Social media threats expected to rise

Social media is used by not only individuals, but virtually every business too – and business accounts on social media are also at risk.

Cyber attackers are expanding their tactics to social media, and their target now goes beyond individuals, to reach businesses as well.

Why attack on social media platforms? Well, most social channels count with poor authentication and little verification, which increases rate of success for the attacker.

While working remotely, employees need stay vigilant when posting, signing up for online events, or communicating on their own or on behalf of the business.

3. Senior employees at increased risk of attacks

The latest evidence suggests that senior employees have become a target and are currently those most likely to need ransomware protection. Senior members of staff are frequently in a position to authorise payments, which makes them more vulnerable.

So, it seems that cyber criminals are making a point of targeting c-suite staff members and high-ranking individuals.

Similarly, attackers are increasingly focusing on individual workstation, rather than company-wide IT infrastructure. They are doing this looking to acquire personal information, which they can then use to threaten or embarrass senior employees.

So far, the type of ransomware attacks that targets individuals has been used by groups under a strain known as “Clop” ransomware. This strain of malware has been around for just over a decade, and it seems clear that other criminals are adopting similar strategies to attack.

4. Automations becoming a cybersecurity threat

Organisations have tried to merge their security solutions for remote workers, in order to reduce costs. In doing do, businesses have applied hyperautomation to automate many processes with different tools like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robot process automation (RPA).

Unfortunately, these automations have posed a risk. Hackers are using automation too in order to attack business networks and systems. The attackers look to spot patterns and find vulnerabilities in systems, then collect data and repurpose it to train the malicious systems, and attack similar software.

To stay protected, businesses need to use endpoint security systems. Reportedly, less than 50% of businesses with remote employees are using endpoint security systems.

For 2021, we expect to see a rise in the number of employees becoming more accustomed with endpoint cybersecurity systems.

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What can businesses do to stay protected against threats?

  • Keep software updated

Keeping software up to date is crucial to eliminate vulnerabilities in system applications. Make sure to keep your software always updated, to benefit from the latest security measures. Where possible, select the auto-update option.

  • Install antivirus and cybersecurity software

Perhaps an obvious one, but essential practice – antivirus is crucial in the battle against malware, phishing and other types of online and offline threats. Try implementing multi-layered protection on your devices. Your IT department or outsourced IT partner should be able to help you with an effective antivirus strategy.

  • Training for staff

Training your staff can go a long way for employees to learn key security practices, and create an IT security culture across the organisation. Training can be delivered collectively or in small doses – for instance, with reminders around the importance of virtual private networks (VPNs) and on the awareness of phishing emails. One of the first lessons employees should learn is to always check the sender upon receipt of a suspicious message or emails instructing them to click a link. It’s very important to check the sender’s details and try to authenticate the link – if in doubt, staff should know to delete the message and report it.

This article originally appeared on Euro Systems and has been republished with permission.

Here are some cyber security predictions based on the latest trends in IT security, and some tips for businesses to stay alert and keep protected against risks.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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