Top cybersecurity threats to be aware of in 2021

Every new year seems to be worse than the one before when you look at history through the lens of cybersecurity and cybersecurity threats. Cybercriminals and their methods continue to become more and more sophisticated, while IT is the cornerstone of pretty much every modern business. 2020 saw a spike in cybercrime that sought to exploit the corona pandemic, a health crisis that shook and keeps on shaking the world and has changed the social fabric of both companies and society as a whole.

For most businesses, the move to remote working has increased risk levels, since familiar on-premises IT networks have been exchanged for home Wi-Fi and personal devices. But what will 2021 bring us when it comes to the ever-intriguing and highly dynamic world of cybersecurity? Read on to learn more about the top cybersecurity threats that will impact cybersecurity throughout (and probably well beyond) 2021.

Sustained remote working brings new cybersecurity threats

Many people were under the impression that remote working would be a temporary phenomenon. But things have turned out differently. The refusal of the COVID-19 virus to accept defeat has prolonged the need for increased from-home working and decentralized workforces. As a result, the number of connected devices and BYODs has increased spectacularly.

This trend comes with a plethora of additional cybersecurity risks. Attack surfaces have become bigger, whilst the measures to implement and control security and data policies (end-point security, proper access control policies) are often below par in a remote environment. This increases the risk of costly and potentially reputation-shattering data breaches.

Researchers from Bitdefender paint a bleak picture: “As more and more people adhere to the work-from-home schedule imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, employees will take cybersecurity shortcuts for convenience. Insufficiently secured personal devices and home routers, along with the transfer of sensitive information over unsecured or unsanctioned channels (such as instant messaging apps, personal e-mail addresses and cloud-based document processors), will play a key role in data breaches and leaks.”

The solution? Make serious work of real-time threat detection and endpoint security and draw up solid governance and access control policies that include security measures like multi-factor authentication (MFA) and the labelling of documents and data (classified, sensitive or available to every employee) based on the importance and sensitivity of the information that they contain.

A stronger emphasis on detection of cybersecurity threats

Protection alone isn’t enough to ward off the biggest cybersecurity threats of 2021. Detection of cybersecurity threats is equally, and probably even more, important when it comes to dealing with threats that are characterized by heightened levels of sophistication, professionalism and maliciousness. The combination of high-quality technical cyber defence and detection has the future. 

The need for advanced detection and network monitoring will probably lead to an acceleration in the use of AI-based and machine learning-powered Cloud SIEM (security information and event management) tools, accompanied by human-guided threat hunting. Advanced security orchestration and automation tools allow businesses to collect data about cybersecurity threats in real-time and respond accordingly.

Attacks on the Internet of Things

More and more organizations have become heavily reliant on IoT devices for measuring and monitoring processes or running day-to-day business processes. The continued expansion of the Internet of Things, along with the expected rise of 5G technology, provides new opportunities for cyber attackers to compromise or hijack systems and networks. The continuing trend towards mobile-only intensifies the threat and stimulates “de-perimeterization” and “cloudification” of corporate networks according to several experts in the field. 

The best way to battle the biggest cybersecurity threats? Segregate insecure IoT and 5G-enabled devices from the rest of your network. This is especially important when your organization (healthcare organizations, financial services) deals with considerable amounts of privacy-sensitive information on a regular basis.

More and new phishing scams

Phishing is a persistent cybersecurity problem that will keep on plaguing businesses and private users in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic will remain a popular theme for ingenious phishing campaigns. The announcement of a new vaccine? A rollback or intensification of lockdown measures? Or a sudden surge in new infections? Expect cybercriminals to exploit these major events to spread new phishing emails.

Global Data Systems also expects new twists on the classic ‘Nigerian prince scam’ (a crook pretending to be a rich foreign prince who promises you a large sum of money if you give him your bank account information). In the new variations on this classic phishing scheme, cybercriminals often pretend to be trustworthy government agencies or officials sending out economic (often COVID-related) stimulus payments.

More ransomware attacks

Ransomware attacks will remain on the rise in 2021. In fact, Cybersecurity Ventures expects that a large to medium-sized business will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds in 2021. A potentially costly affair, since the expected total costs of ransomware attacks in 2021 are expected to exceed the dazzling number of 20 billion dollars worldwide. Cybersecurity experts also predict that the impact and intensity of ransomware attacks will increase.

Stronger emphasis on cloud security

More and more companies are moving applications and (parts of) their IT infrastructure to the cloud. This strong trend towards cloud adoption is spurred by the new workplace realities that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. The acceleration of workload migrations to the cloud will lead to increased company investments in state-of-the-art cloud security solutions.

The rise of automation, AI and machine learning

Automation, AI and machine learning are going to play a more important role in the highly challenging and constantly evolving field of cybersecurity. Splunk stresses the importance of these new technologies when it comes to risk assessment and timely threat detection: “The sheer amount of security alerts, of potential threats, is too much for humans to handle alone. Already, automation and machine learning help human security analysts separate the most urgent alerts from a sea of data, and take instant remedial action against certain threat profiles.” 

Fileless attacks and business process compromises

Fileless attacks and business process compromises are also on the increase. These threats have the nasty habit of staying under the radar of many conventional prevention and detection solutions. Fileless attacks often start with an emailed link to a malicious website and use social engineering tactics to exploit tools and features that are already present in the victim’s IT environment. Business process compromises on the other hand don’t target vulnerabilities in applications, but secretly exploit weaknesses in the process flow of business operations.

Cybersecurity threats controlroom

Keep your IT environment safe from cybersecurity threats with Managed Detection and Response

Closely following the latest news and trends in the field of cybersecurity is the best way to stay on top of potential threats in cyberspace. It will equip you with the knowledge that you need to battle them effectively. 

But it is important to realize that traditional protection measures often don’t go far enough, as attackers continually use new methods to exploit vulnerabilities and bypass detection. Infradata’s Managed Detection and Response deals with the shortcomings of traditional security solutions in the following ways:

  • Our dedicated Security Operations Centres (SOCs) investigate abnormal activity on networks in order to recognize attacks at an early stage.
  • Our security experts keep a close eye on your network by continuously observing events, log files and network traffic. This enables us to provide round-the-clock protection.
  • If we find risky anomalies and patterns that point towards a cybersecurity threat, we will start an in-depth investigation that identifies which systems and employees are most at risk.

More information on cybersecurity threats

Does the topic of cybersecurity occupy a prominent spot on your company agenda? And would you like to find out more about Infradata and our advanced Managed Detection and Response Solution? Don’t hesitate to contact us via phone or email!

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January 15 2021

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