Cybersecurity trends in 2021
We’ve put one of the toughest years in recent memory behind us — but with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re not out of the woods yet. Thankfully, many vaccines have already been approved for widespread distribution, so hopefully, we'll soon be able to return to our pre-social distancing lives.
Looking back, it may be argued that the belated travel bans to and from hotspot countries were what caused the United States to succumb to such an infectious and dangerous disease. It was a failure to recognize significant health trends that led to unfortunate loss of life, protracted economic downturn, and massive unemployment. While the future cannot be predicted, our ability to identify causal relationships allows us to identify dangerous trends and avoid undesirable outcomes.
This is also why it is important for businesses to be able to recognize cybersecurity trends. As a business owner or manager, you do not want to be caught unawares of developments that may endanger your company.
These emerging data security threats are turning out to be ones that organizations must not waste time preparing for.
Weaponized artificial intelligence (AI)
For a couple of years now, those in the IT industry have lauded AI as an incredibly powerful and helpful tool in every field imaginable — including cybersecurity. However, just like with any tool, malefactors may misappropriate AI and use it for cybercrime.
To illustrate, some AI-powered security tools build a compendium of normal user behaviors within a network to help them flag suspicious activity. Cybercriminals can thwart these tools by using malicious programs that learn and mimic these behaviors in order to make the bad programs’ illicit actions harder to spot. Additionally, other machine learning-enabled network scanning tools can now quickly identify vulnerabilities and determine how to exploit them.
Widened network perimeter
Thanks to lockdowns and shelter-in-place directives, companies were forced to quickly adopt work from home setups. Understandably, enabling staff to access and use company apps and data in the first place was prioritized and fulfilled without much regard for cybersecurity risks. This was because the risk of business failure due to halted operations far outweighed the risk of being hit by cyberattacks.
However, with teams now more widely distributed, this means that they’re using their own machines and their own internet connections, both of which may have their own vulnerabilities. More importantly, granting staff remote network access widens the perimeter of company networks. That is, instead of users being enclosed within the company’s intranet, they are now outside but still need to get in to access apps and data. Each outside user represents a potential infiltration point from which a hacker may begin ransacking data across your network.
One way to effectively limit this is by implementing zero trust network access (ZTNA). Under ZTNA, users are only given access to data on an as-needed basis. If they don’t need the data to do their jobs, then they won’t have access to it. This means that when a cybercriminal hacks into someone’s account, that criminal will be limited to the resources linked to that account. That is, the hacker will not be able to move laterally across the network and steal everything in sight.
Mobile app compromise
Smartphones are practically useless without apps. We use communication apps to connect with our friends and family, digital payment apps to make small purchases, and productivity apps to accomplish work-related tasks. Many of these are tied to our emails and/or our payment cards, and we often grant apps access to the phone’s camera, audio, and address book.
Beyond performing their primary functions, these apps also collect metadata such as our location, how frequently we use the apps, and other metrics that are meant to help the app’s proprietors improve their service to users.
Now, imagine these apps delivering your data into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, mobile app security is mostly up to that app’s developers. The only ways end users exercise control over their mobile app data security are when they choose to install updates and patches or not, when they adjust app permissions, and when they continue or discontinue using apps.
Countless businesses trust SimplyClouds to help keep them safe from present and emerging cyberthreats. Drop us a line today so that we may begin to uncover and address the cybersecurity gaps of your company.
Tags: cybersecurity, cybersecurity risks, weaponized AI, zero trust network access, ZTNA, Mobile app compromiseShare