11 Top Cybersecurity Trends to Watch for in 2021

By Aleksandr Yampolskiy

Posted on Nov 4, 2020

In 2020, the world experienced a large-scale digital transition that impacted all sectors from enterprise, to retail, to healthcare, and more. This massive digital shift placed a considerable emphasis on the importance of cybersecurity and ensuring network and data protection, moving forward. As we head into the new year, organizations must consider key trends as they work to build and improve upon their cybersecurity risk management programs. This will ensure that they can stay one step ahead of attackers rather than rushing to play catch up when their current controls fall behind.

Let’s explore some of the top factors to consider for cybersecurity in 2021:

11 cybersecurity considerations for 2021

Organizations are facing a wide range of challenges brought on by unforeseen events such as COVID-19. Accelerated digital transformation strategies meant that many organizations found themselves onboarding new technologies to maintain business continuity. Simultaneously, the rapid acquisition and deployment of these technologies meant that many organizations lacked the time needed to engage in deep due diligence.

Looking toward next year, CISOs and IT decision-makers should consider the following cybersecurity trends and predictions:

1. Secure access service edge (SASE)

Secure access service edge (SASE) involves converging WAN and network security into a single, cloud-delivered service model. Traditional approaches to cybersecurity are no longer sufficient for meeting the dynamic needs of today’s networks. With a SASE approach, organizations are able to apply secure access no matter where their users, applications, or devices are located. Now as more organizations than ever are moving critical data and assets back and forth between cloud environments, the need for secure access is clear.

2. Zero-trust network access

Zero-trust security assumes that every user or device cannot and should not be inherently trusted. Instead, user access is given on an as-needed basis dependent upon each employees’ specific job function, effectively cutting down on potential insider threats. By continuously assessing the trust of each device and user, a zero-trust security system allows organizations to prevent outsiders from gaining access to the network and stop them from moving laterally to access critical information.

3. Extended detection and response (EDR)

According to Gartner, EDR is a “SaaS-based, vendor-specific security threat detection and incident response tool that natively integrates multiple security products into a cohesive security operations system that unifies all licensed components.” In the coming year, EDR systems are expected to become more widely used as a means for proactive endpoint threat detection and response and comprehensive visibility.

4. Increased emphasis on privacy

People are becoming increasingly aware of the ways in which their data is being collected, managed, and distributed by organizations. As a result, many countries are putting data privacy mandates and regulations in place such as the GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and more in order to protect sensitive data and customer information. Organizations must be prepared to adapt to these changes and ensure regulatory compliance as these requirements evolve and users become more aware of data privacy.

5. Distributed cloud architecture

Distributed cloud architecture has been described as the next generation of cloud computing by Gartner, as it allows users to take advantage of the value propositions of cloud computing while also extending the range and use cases for cloud. By incorporating the physical location of cloud-delivered services, organizations can improve low-latency scenarios and meet specific privacy regulations that require data to be kept in a specific location.

6. Endpoint security management

Endpoint security management involves authenticating and monitoring access rights of various endpoint devices to a network. These endpoints present opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access. In order to effectively manage the growing number of endpoints, organizations will need to employ solutions that can continuously monitor and keep remote workers protected from potential threats.

7. IoT security

Organizations across many industries are beginning to leverage the internet of things (IoT) devices, which refers to physical objects that have been embedded with sensors, software, or other technology with the goal of exchanging data between systems via an internet connection. While these devices can help organizations optimize business operations, it also opens them up to additional security vulnerabilities that must be properly assessed and secured before cyber adversaries have a chance to take advantage of them.

8. AI-driven security automation

As organizations adapt to remote work environments to keep employees protected from public health concerns brought on by COVID-19, they will also need to proactively mitigate cybersecurity risks associated with these changes. AI/ML solutions with rich security data sets ensure that organizations are appropriately analyzing threat patterns, ultimately keeping pace with new methodologies. In fact, the 2020 IBM Cost of a Data Breach found that AI/ML reduced the average cost of a data breach by $259,354.

As part of organizations’ need to mature their cybersecurity programs, many will also look to supplement their third-party penetration testing programs with automated solutions for real-time insights that support a continuous monitoring approach. Powered by AI, automation will be a leading trend in 2021. Security teams can leverage automation to improve operational efficiencies and ease the load on security teams by cutting down on the number of manual tasks required to effectively monitor an organization’s cybersecurity posture.

9. Cloud security posture management (CSPM)

Cloud services adoption, particularly in response to stay-at-home orders, continues to increase and will continue to increase for the long term. Securing these assets, however, means that organizations will need to focus on enhancing their cloud security posture management (CSPM) programs.

Research published in August 2020 found that misconfigured storage services in 93% of cloud deployments contributed to more than 2,000 breaches encompassing more than 30 billion records since 2018. Organizations that plan to further expand their digital footprint will be focusing on cloud-native solutions that help them more rapidly detect and remediate misconfigurations.

10. Increased cybersecurity testing

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and employee-owned device security have been more important in recent years. However, 2020 proves that organizations with robust security controls for applications, networks, and devices were more prepared to secure the remote workforce. Looking towards 2021, analysts believe that the security testing market is set to grow by 22.3% between 2020 and 2025, up to an expected $16.9 billion.

11. Support for remote operations

Many IT security professionals worry that remote employees will accidentally or purposefully break policies. According to the BlackHat USA attendee survey, 72% of respondents worried that many remote workers are unfamiliar with best security practices which could lead them to accidentally expose enterprise systems and data to new risks.

More robust end-user training offers a way to start protecting data better. Just as continuous monitoring for potential technical control weaknesses ensures a more robust approach to securing data, continuous education offers a better way to close security gaps arising from the “human element.” Hands-on experiences and educational tools that meet users where they are in their security education journey enable organizations to better secure this attack vector.

Emerging cyber threats

One of the first steps to building a successful cybersecurity risk management program is to have a solid understanding of the threat landscape and how threats are changing, advancing, or growing in number. Explore some of the top emerging cyber threats facing organizations across industries:

  • Mobile App Compromise: The widespread use of smartphones has led cybercriminals to focus on attacks that exploit mobile apps. These can include but aren’t limited to SMiShing (similar to phishing), network spoofing, broken cryptography, poor encryption, and more.
  • Weaponized AI: Just as organizations are tapping into the advantages of AI and automation, so are cybercriminals. Many are now leveraging machine learning in attacks to allow for easier vulnerability identification and more.
  • Attackers at the network edge: The widespread move to remote work models in 2020 led to an expansion of the network edge, with more people than ever accessing critical security data from the comfort of their own home.

How SecurityScorecard can help organizations stay ahead of cyber threats in 2021

The future is in the cloud from both revenue and security perspectives. As organizations build out their 2021cybersecurity budgets, they need to find solutions that help mitigate the most pressing risks. In a constantly evolving digital and physical threat landscape, securing data has become more important than ever before. To appropriately mitigate future risks, organizations should look to solutions that mitigate current risks while enabling scalability as their digital footprint grows.

With agile solutions like SecurityScorecard, organizations are equipped with tools to continuously monitor, detect, and mitigate new risks in real-time. It can also help to bridge the communication gap that can arise when reporting to the board, CISOs, CIOs, and the rest of the senior leadership team.

Organizational leaders can focus on protecting their IT stack by looking back at 2020 to fill gaps created by accelerated cloud-first or cloud-only strategies. Although we may not know what tomorrow will bring, we do know what happened yesterday. To appropriately mitigate future risks, organizations should look to solutions that mitigate current risks while enabling scale as the digital footprint grows.

Seeking to mitigate these risks requires cloud-native solutions that meet users and cybercriminals where they work - in the cloud.

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