Cyber Trends for 2021: Industry Leaders Weigh In

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For many, 2021 can’t come soon enough! Looking back at 2020, John Sabino, customer success officer for Splunk sums it up well, “The sudden arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic forced every organization to think digitally. Digital transactions, digital collaboration…even the most forward-thinking, modern organizations weren’t expecting to go all-virtual, all at once. Yet those that could adapt in this way were the most fortunate.”

2020: The Year of Ransomware, Remote Worksorce, VPNs

McAfee saw organizations in 2020 “continue to adapt to unprecedented levels of employees working from home and the cybersecurity challenges the new normal demands.” In its latest research, McAfee found that there was average of 419 threats per minute. Its latest McAfee Labs Threats Report can be downloaded here.

“There is a single word that describes the threat landscape in 2020. That word: Ransomware. There has been no bigger threat to a business or organization, or anything quite as profitable for a cyber criminal in 2020.  There is a simple reason for this.  Extortion is profitable.  And cyber criminals are working to maximize those profits,” proclaims Symantec.

“As employees shift to working from home and become dependent on VPN access all day, every day, attackers have quickly found their newest high-value target,” states Eclypsium.

Trends and Predictions for 2021

As we look ahead, what can we expect in terms of cybersecurity? We look to industry experts and several of our Cyber Oregon sponsors to round up the latest trends, predictions, insights, and thoughts for the new year — many have issued reports on predictions for more in-depth reading. Here is a sampling:

Human Element, Resources for Small Businesses

Splunk says, “Never mind the technologies, how do you keep your human organization focused and moving forward in the uncertainty of 2021? COVID-19 has transformed how and where we work, and filled every workday with new challenges and concerns.” The company has compiled a four-part predictions report covering trends in IT operations (DevOps, observability, etc.), data security (zero trust, new attack vectors, and more), and emerging technologies as AI/ML, 5G, blockchain and AR/VR. Download the Splunk 2021 Data Technology Predictions here.

America’s SBDC Oregon offers several resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 in Oregon, including operations, health and safety planning, business and funding resources.

Cybercriminals and Cyber, Cloud Threats to Increase in 2021

“Change is constant and change must happen in order to stay ahead of attackers. One key tenet is embedding a culture of modernization in security teams and leaders by understanding the operational environment,” states Fidelis Cybersecurity.

Fortinet anticipates strategies that cybercriminals will leverage in the coming year and beyond, including “intelligent edge computing, 5G-enabled devices, and advances in computing power.” Read more about the FortiGuard Labs Threat Predictions for 2021 and beyond. Access the full report.

Crowdstrike forecasts more intrusions and larger demands. “We know attackers will continue to refine their techniques and strengthen their skills to evade security, monetize their access and/or reach their ultimate objective. The year 2020 saw more intrusions than ever before, larger ransomware demands and little opportunity for organizations to improve their security posture while keeping pace with the chaos brought on by the global pandemic.” Read the Crowdstrike Cyber Front Lines Report.

Symantec believes that attackers will begin to find ways to further exploit working from home. “We predict that the coming year will see ransomware gangs become increasingly aggressive in finding more ways to tighten the screws on victims. However, what is new and potentially worrying news, is some of the biggest actors in cyber crime coming closer and closer together, in particular some of the biggest botnet operators and ransomware authors.”

Zscaler cautions organizations against lax cloud security protocols. It advocates that businesses overcome these challenges and details how:

  1. Hidden data loss in encrypted traffic
  2. Gaps between data protection services
  3. Limited context when controlling data usage
  4. Poor user experience  
  5. Compliance violations across clouds 

Homomorphic Encryption, Distributed Management

Galois forecasts that homomorphic encryption will be a key trend in 2021. Digital Journal defines homomorphic encryption as “[allowing] complex calculations to be performed on encrypted data without compromising the encryption. Homomorphic encryption helps to protect the integrity of data by allowing others to manipulate its encrypted form while no one can understand or access its decrypted values.”

Pacstar makes the case for distributed and remote management of open standards-based tactical networks for vehicles in a recent article in Military Embedded Systems, “To exploit the potential benefits of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, video analysis, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality and virtual reality, and other innovative technologies on mobile platforms at the tactical edge, Department of Defense (DoD) communications programs must effectively deploy advanced IT infrastructure, connectivity, and compute resources.”

Resilience and Moving Forward

“2020 was a watershed year and a true test of our collective digital resilience. With the impact of COVID-19 likely to be felt for years to come, businesses are having to relook at their strategies to navigate the new normal in the longer term. With our increased dependence on technology, how successfully are businesses securing their digital future for 2021? Security will get pushed to the edge and simplified,” states Palo Alto Networks. Palo Alto Networks offers up more predictions here. We at Cyber Oregon believe that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and must be accessible to all. Together, our goal is to build tangible solutions to protect the digital lives of all Oregonians. Stay tuned for the latest cybersecurity news and trends in the coming year!