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There are many drivers impacting and shaping the philosophy of constant change, and the velocity of change typically depends on the domain undergoing the transformation. When analysing 2021 cybersecurity trends for the changes they cause, there are two major factors that standout in the cybersecurity threat space: one chronic, and one acute. The former is the general trend of digitalization which has been rapidly accelerating in the last two decades. It is one of the clearest examples of change.  Business is moving to the cloud and increasing how interconnected we are now. This is also making our everyday processes infinitely more interdependent. The latter trend, which emerged in the public domain but did not stay there, is the coronavirus pandemic.  It has demonstrated the importance of adaptation and pushed millions of jobs into a work from home format.  These trends bring new challenges we need to identify and prepare for to thrive.

Home Is Where the Risk Is

For several professions, the work-from-home shift came as a blessing in disguise. More time to spend with family, less time spent commuting, reduced travel costs and less pollution. Some companies realized they were generating substantial savings by cutting back on office space given the fact some jobs could be easily performed from the comfort of home without a loss in output quality.  However, there are some high-tech jobs in the digital domain where security matters are extremely important. 

Moving development operations from office to home means higher worker dependency on digital collaboration tools. Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype have redefined the way IT professionals communicate and cooperate. 2021 cybersecurity trends will further expand the need and tendency to exchange delicate data between home and office networks. This, in turn, leads to a much higher risk exposure to hackers compromising sensitive information or causing significant financial harm. You can expect direct phishing attacks among other types of attacks to intensify in attempts to exploit the fast-growing attack surface supporting remote workers.  Keeping a strong focus on your home cybersecurity measures is paramount. Popular collaboration platforms have already shown a host of vulnerabilities and security weaknesses, so we all must be mindful of this and be extra careful. Invest in prevention and avoid taking cybersecurity shortcuts for convenience to minimize your risk of compromise.

Inbox Under Siege

Endpoint security can be considered an evergreen topic – it’s here to stay and it’s all around us. The easiest and most fruitful vector of attack for cybercriminals is the unassuming inbox. People still approach digital security as something abstract and, in most cases, something that isn’t their direct personal responsibility. For this reason, hackers tend to attack inboxes en masse via ransomware, malware and other spear phishing software.

Keep in mind that these attacks cost the hackers very little to deploy on a large scale. This allows for aggressive campaigns where a mere 1% success rate can yield excellent gains for data ransom. Scores of people working from home and using lax security opens additional space for hackers to exploit. What makes this trend even more threatening is the fact that cybercrime is becoming increasingly automated. Tools that automate these campaigns will further intensify the level of risk associated with the cybersecurity trends we expect to see in 2021. Conversely, these campaigns will likely be less sophisticated and easier to spot, but their massive scale will create noticeable problems.

Above the Clouds

We’ve written extensively about cloud storage and its benefits. The convenience, elasticity and scalability cloud providers offer are extremely enticing and represent a trend that will continue to grow quickly. The need to bridge the physical separation caused by the work-from-home imperative has underlined another major advantage of the cloud. Even micro companies are looking to accelerate their migration in this direction. Therefore, cloud usage will certainly face new challenges. The increased volume of data associated with greater demand and focus on distributed cloud will require new cybersecurity policies.

Data breaches due to misconfigurations following cloud migrations, unsecured APIs and insider threats will also play major roles in the area of cloud security challenges. To counter this, we expect to see heavy deployment of innovations in cloud computing with a special emphasis on blockchain. Enhancing and protecting privacy will be the key driver for millions of new cloud users, which requires fast adaptational thinking.

Automation Nation

Automation in every possible domain is certainly one of the top 2021 cybersecurity trends. The process of automation is intrinsically tied to human ingenuity – we strive to save time and ease our work. Now, we’ve already mentioned how hackers plan to rely on automation for malicious purposes. Conversely, we’re looking at a defensive campaign on the other side – professionals developing automated protection apps based on advanced AI.

Heavy investment in machine learning, robotic process automation and decision-support tools is only going to intensify even further. The amount of security alerts is poised to grow and will require a human-machine combination to provide an effective response. This will be especially relevant to smart factories operating on industry 4.0, where every second of downtime creates huge costs. Couple this with strong forays into the 5G and IoT technologies and it becomes clear why automation expansion is certain.

Blockchain Rising

As a technology, blockchain is still in its infancy and its uses in the real world are very limited at the present time. However, the growth trend from 2020 is expected to continue in 2021 and the general “blockchain rush” brings exciting opportunities. It is likely that blockchain will find its first major action in cybersecurity, due to its strong focus on privacy and monitoring of the supply chain. Additionally, its trust-based approach and high integrity and data availability make it a powerful contender in this field. The fact that blockchain also offers high customizability makes it attractive for developers and end users alike. You can adjust security levels for the system, but also for individual class users.

Additionally, the ability to create private, public and hybrid blockchains covers various domains of use. Combine this with dispute resolution and transaction processing mechanisms, blockchain offers a well-rounded ecosystem to address cybersecurity concerns. The potentially lucrative nature of this technology should give it an even more favorable impact on 2021 cybersecurity trends.