2020 has brought many new challenges to organizations of every size. Unfortunately, 2021 is not likely to be any different. The software businesses relied upon previously are no longer the best option, and those that delayed implementing new technologies have been left with no choice.
The disrupted working environment has sent many office staff home, increasing the demand for video conferencing, collaboration tools, cloud applications, and network security. These changes have created problems previously reserved for the much smaller number of people working remotely before the pandemic.
Now, these threats expand to a much greater majority. Common issues include employees utilizing personal devices for work purposes, using unsecured networks, and becoming infinitely more distracted (causing them to fall for phishing scams easily).
While many would appreciate a return to normal in 2021, that doesn’t seem like a realistic option. Whether your organization is just treading water, waiting for a rebound, or preparing for additional changes to come, now is the time to step up your security game. Like every year before it, 2020 showed an increase from the previous year in cyber threats. Chances are, we will see even more attacks occurring in the coming year.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t predict the future. And while that is true, there a few ways we expect to see new cyberthreats taking hold.
1. COVID-19 Continues to Effect Business Operations
The pandemic has lasted longer than anyone thought possible when it first came into the limelight. With that in mind, its effects on the business world are bound to carry over into the new year. Now that employees have realized the benefits of working from home, a whopping 98% of surveyees said they would like to continue doing so. According to the same study, over 60% of respondents work both in an office and remotely.
When organizations change the way they work, cybercriminals will take advantage. Even a global pandemic is no deterrent for bad actors. In the same way that businesses have had to adapt, those with malicious intent have adapted even quicker, using COVID-19 news as an angle for attacks and finding new entry points thanks to WFH.
2. Phishing & Ransomware Increases
Cyberattacks have been, and are likely to remain, the top method for criminals to deposit malware or gain access to a company’s network. From businesses with two employees to organizations with a global reach, every company and every industry is a target.
Of course, phishing and ransomware was a problem before the pandemic. However, now that many employees are working remotely, these threats only increase in prominence. Cyberattacks prey on the fears surrounding COVID-19, the new network weaknesses caused by the migration of workforces, and employees’ inherent trust of emails that look legitimate.
Why does staff working from home make them a bigger target? When workers are in a corporate environment, they are more likely to be wary of messages, whereas when they are home, they are in a more relaxed state and are more likely to click on a malicious link or Word document. Similarly, it is much easier to check with a coworker whether a suspicious email came from them or not when they are just down the hall.
3. 5G Implementation Brings More Vulnerabilities
The fifth generation of mobile networks and technologies is here, offering incredibly fast speeds. By 2024, 5G is expected to cover 40% of the world. While it will be some time before we see 5G in remote areas, the transition has already begun in large cities. Unfortunately, its scope and deployment bring with it an expected increase in cyber threats and corporate espionage.
High-speed data transfers are great for any organization, but in the same way, cybercriminals benefit as well. A more advanced level of security and monitoring will be necessary for successful 5G use.
4. Cyber Skills Shortage Continues
In the past few years, this concept has certainly made the rounds among cybersecurity circles. There is a genuine concern that the workforce is too small to compensate all the organizations that need protection (which is all of them). Seeing as this is the case, it’s highly unlikely that every business will have (or be able to afford) a full-time IT professional. This problem is not going anywhere in 2021.
How will companies ensure their data and sensitive corporate information is safe?
For many, the easiest and most cost-effective option is working with a managed service provider. MSPs offer applications and software to ensure a secure cyber environment and also manage the network. IT teams monitor suspicious occurrences – assessing, classifying, and responding to attacks. Constant surveillance and threat detection are critical services MSPs can offer to prevent incidents amongst the barrage of sophisticated attacks that will continue into 2021.
Cyberthreats are a constant stressor for many organizations. Unfortunately, we all must come to terms with it and continuously find new ways to circumvent it. Like 2020, the outlook is not great, and the profound changes to the business world this year will undoubtedly carry over. Don’t wait until a cyberattack works to take the initiative and invest in the right protections. As we get ready to prepare for a new year, ensure that cybersecurity is a top priority.