What Are the Biggest Cybersecurity Concerns of 2021?
For months, many businesses have been looking at bringing employees back to the office following a period of remote work during the pandemic.
Now, it’s looking like some employers might be delaying that, so they once again have to think about how to best facilitate remote work. With that comes cybersecurity concerns.
Of course, it’s not just remote work that creates cybersecurity worries.
The following are some of the biggest potential problems in cybersecurity that organizations are facing in 2021 and may continue to grapple with into next year.
Remote Work Risks
There was a recent survey that found 74% of survey respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that remote work makes it harder for employees to follow good security practices.
Security concerns include both internal and external threats.
Within that larger context, specific concerns that come with remote work include username and password reuse, software vulnerability, unsecured network use and device theft.
Because of COVID-19, organizations had to make cloud migrations they weren’t planning on. They also had to quickly procure IT products and services that would keep up with changing needs.
That meant that security was put on the back burner.
Since we’re now grasping perhaps more than ever that remote work on a large-scale isn’t going anywhere, maybe ever, it’s time for organizations to start addressing vulnerabilities in their security infrastructures that exist specifically as they relate to remote work.
Now is the time to start looking at areas of weakness that are leaving your organization vulnerable to potential threats.
Software vulnerabilities are a concern that was mentioned above within the context of remote work risks, but it’s worth talking about on its own as well. Remote work environments mean that there’s a lack of centralization. Employees might be working across different personal devices, and if there’s no centralized device management system, it’s going to take more time to identify and respond to software vulnerabilities and breaches.
You also have to consider the fact that the built-in security on personal devices and the software are not constantly updated. These are things that unless you take proactive action to safeguard against, are largely out of your control.
Your business needs to have a device management solution in place that is centralized and will let you install and update software.
Password fatigue is a huge security risk for individuals and businesses. What this means is that basically people get lazy with how they log into their various accounts. Your employees are tired of logging into so many different devices, networks, and applications. Having an entirely different and secure complex password for each is almost impossible.
What does this lead to?
It’s understandable why employees do this, but that doesn’t make it any less of a security risk.
If an employee is reusing a password across their work device and multiple applications, it’s putting your business at risk.
Phishing is also one of the primary ways that bad actors infiltrate organizations and networks, so if one of your employees falls victim to a phishing scam, then that one password may give them immense access.
You need to have stringent password policies, and you should give your employees the tools for multi-factor authentication.
Your employees also need increased training and education on security best practices, with a particular focus on passwords.
Using Unsecured Networks
The use of unsecured networks is becoming more common with more remote workers. Your employees can work from anywhere, including airports, coffee shops, and anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
This is putting your business at risk, though.
It can even be risky if your employees are connecting to an open home network.
Your employees need to be trained on network-related policies and how to keep your network secure no matter how they’re accessing the internet.
Phishing was mentioned briefly above, and it’s such an enormous problem that it needs to be talked about on its own.
Phishing is one of the simplest but also most effective and often executed cyberattacks. Phishing can be used to gain access to your entire network.
All a bad actor has to do is trick an employee into handing over some sensitive data or getting them to run malware on a device connected to the network.
Cybercriminals continue to use email as a way to launch phishing attacks, but they’ve also gotten more creative in 2021, using online collaboration platforms like Zoom to conduct attacks.
Cloud Adoption is Moving Faster Than Security
Cloud adoption has been moving at a rapid pace in recent years. The pandemic led to an explosion. Employers needed the scalability, accessibility, and flexibility that cloud-based solutions can deliver.
However, security isn’t keeping pace as much as the adoption of cloud technology itself.
Cloud infrastructure is distinctive from an on-premises data center, meaning unique security challenges. If your organization is still working to understand these challenges, you aren’t alone, but your cloud-based deployments are at risk as a result.
The risks of ransomware has been something that’s been all over the news throughout 2021, with some pretty significant and high-profile situations, including the Colonial Pipeline attack.
There is a successful ransomware attack every 10 seconds throughout the world. These attacks cost businesses nearly $20 billion last year, which was up 75% over the previous year.
There’s also a trend within a trend regarding ransomware, which is called double extortion. Now, attackers don’t just encrypt files and then demand ransom to get them back.
They also steal data and sensitive information from the victim. If the ransom isn’t paid, the data is posted online, or it might be sold to the entity willing to pay the highest price.
The DarkSide group used this style of attack against Colonial Pipeline.
Cybercriminals are fast when it comes to developing and deploying new methods to take advantage of their victims, and that’s never been more true than now, as we’re in the middle of 2021.