Approaching cybersecurity in 2021
As we move into the New Year, cybersecurity continues as ever to evolve in various ways. Of course, this would have been true even in less disruptive times. The challenges brought about by a global pandemic and mass shutdowns have necessitated creative, out of the box approaches to protecting data. Remote working provoked new strategies and solutions towards the incessant barrage of cyber risks.
Many of these have been the work of sophisticated hackers, while others might result from something as mundane as a new smart device they got as a holiday gift. Once connected, a risk is created, even if the device isn’t currently in use. People “are accessing sensitive work systems, they might have work data on their device that they are sharing with other people in the household,” says cybersecurity consultant Dave Hatter. Considering remote working, 2020 only exacerbated this issue for IT teams and consumers, while giving bad actors a broader attack surface.
However many businesses choose to return to the office once a degree of normalcy has returned, a good number no doubt will maintain their remote working gig for good. This will mean expanding security strategies beyond a main network to account for each individual device that hooks up, wherever it may be. Ensuring proper security postures across this spectrum will become just as important as traditional perimeter measures. Moreover, this device diaspora should also enhance the importance of securing the data itself on site. Proper management, including access privileges and consistent monitoring, will be even more vital going forward. Much has been made in recent times of Zero Trust policy—an approach of highly controlled and selected access, as the name suggests—and it seems likely to be more widely adopted in the future.
Ransomware also proved a significant threat, and analysts predict this trend is still growing. We saw numerous cases of COVID-related schemes that exploited the situation this year. The pandemic has only made already valuable medical data even more so (both to cyber criminals and actual patients). Hospitals struggled to keep up their data protection on top of everything else they had to cope with.
2020 was inarguably a chaotic year, to say the least. With any luck 2021 will provide an opportunity for companies to move towards something more like normalcy. Realistically, businesses should prepare for more of the same, keeping ready, should circumstances drastically change again, to pivot and adapt as quickly as they were forced to this year.