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Cybersecurity in 2021: What to expect

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The arrival of COVID-19 in 2020 forced people’s lives to move online, both at work and in person, and digital transformation accelerated. Technology helped to maintain social and emotional well-being and helped many organisations stay afloat.

However, this new reality has also led to an increase in the number of cyber-attacks. As cyber-attacks increase and new cybersecurity trends continue to emerge, organisations must take a proactive IT security stance to keep their operations safe. They must become more agile, flexible, and collaborative as they strive to protect their critical assets and infrastructure.

They need to increase their digital security initiatives, change strategies, and educate employees about cybersecurity to deal with this increase in cyber-threats. The year came with an optimistic outlook considering the current strides in developing vaccines for COVID-19. As businesses seek to transition to a new normal in 2021, we will examine some of the projections and expectations in the cybersecurity landscape and what will underpin organisations’ cybersecurity priorities in 2021.
 

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1. There will be increased demand for remote working security. As organisations embrace Remote and Smart working, remote access to corporate environments brings quite significant constraints for enterprises to protect and ensure secure access to their networks.
 There is an urgent need for organisations to reimagine their cybersecurity approaches and evolve countermeasures of protecting teleworkers in the emerging future of work. In 2021, there will be increased adoption of remote and Smart working models, and organisations must proactively embrace the zero-trust architecture to combat remote working threats.
 
2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) will be critical Nowadays, there are daily occurrences of authentication attacks and cybercriminals have perfected measures of using stolen usernames and passwords on underground forums to compromise organisations, using password spraying and credential stuffing attacks Over time, cybercriminals have perpetuated the act of syphoning billions of credentials from breached interactions and systems across the dark web and underground forums. These databases, paired with the ease of automating authentication attacks, means no Internet-exposed service is safe from cyber intrusion if it is not using multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFAs will be mandated as authentication requirements by regulators in many countries in 2021 and will be used to enforce and maintain security levels. Organisations should, therefore, make adequate preparations for implementing different variants of MFAs to cope with emerging trends and challenges.
 
3. The challenges around cloud security will increase Even though organisations were gradually migrating to cloud before 2020, the advent of the COVID – 19 pandemic accelerated cloud adoption and empowered remote working and online collaboration. This rapid migration and cloud adoption opened up new security threats and vulnerabilities across different computing systems, even though the traditional cloud technology was premised around functionality and convenience and not security. Cybercriminals exploit these gaps to perpetuate all kinds of havoc, including espionage and cross country cyber attacks.
 
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To protect their information assets, organisations will have to focus efforts on improving cloud security initiatives. Prevention and detection strategies will be crucial for all organisations, large or small, to protect themselves against these threats. Expanding the use of the cloud will require organisations to improve the visibility of their cloud presence, assets, and vendor relationships to manage risks. 4. The Adoption of Technology-driven Security Tools will be rapid Today’s most effective cybersecurity measures centre around insight and response.

The mechanism for providing spontaneous response and data-driven insights rests on technology. These technologies, including automated security tools and advanced machine learning technologies, support decision making and provide alerts on risky thresholds in tackling threats and vulnerabilities. In 2021 the use of these technology-driven security tools will be at the centre of cybersecurity implementation.
 
With growing data privacy awareness and the adoption of the GDPR globally come greater scrutiny from clients and consumers, who demand their sensitive information be kept safe. Legacy technologies built on static rules can simply not stand up to this pressure, and we are instead going to see even greater adoption of intelligent security technologies that use contextual machine learning to keep data safe.

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Organisations will need to make conscious efforts to create security strategies and implement the same with intelligent technology-driven security tools and advanced machine learning technologies.

5. There will be an increase in Ransomware attacks COVID-19 brought some social challenges, including latent economic exposures across the globe. Individuals who hitherto were dedicated to specific employment relinquished these jobs or earned less than required. Of course, this increased the number of cybercriminals who attack databases and block user accesses to demand ransoms before providing access to legitimate users. These ransomware attackers will be targeting corporate entities, holding the company’s databases in exchange for crypto-currency or other forms of financial compensation.
 
The greatest challenge with ransomware attacks is the reputational dent on the organisation and the transit data accumulated by the attackers. Even when the accesses are restored, the attackers can still use the retained data to blackmail the organisation, make financial demands and publicly expose the organisation. Ransomware is becoming more technically advanced and sophisticated. In 2021, ransomware attacks will be the most rampant attack across organisations. Several entities will be targeted and compromised. Organisations, therefore, must prepare for ransomware prevention and recovery.

To be continued tomorrow.

Ikegwu wrote from Lagos.

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