Data Security Trends Leading Into 2021

2020 has been an intense year for cybersecurity, and it’s not over yet. We are both seeing new trends in hacker activity and bringing new defensive technologies to light. The data security trends of 2021 promise another serious year of on-site, remote, and cloud defense against a constantly adapting enemy. The better we understand the motivations of the hacking hoard and the tools at our disposal, the better each individual network and company will be defended from potential data breaches.

As data security professionals, we’re here to offer insights looking over the horizon into the data security of 2021. Let’s dive into the top trends we can already see forming into the next big wave of the cybersecurity battle.

Securing Employees At Home

Remote work has gone from a luxury to a necessity in 2020, meaning remote security is now essential. Security professionals are now responsible for walking dozens to thousands of employees through the process of setting up their laptops and/or home computers in a secure way to access work data from home.

This means access to fast internet and securing the home wifi network against opportunistic hackers. Securing remote employees means walking each team member through installing their own firewall, virus scanner, and other defense software – then configuring the stack to work together with any necessary business software and mostly-normal device use.

At-home security should also involve idle log-outs, lock screens, bio-passwords, and lost device apps to prevent family or travel from resulting in data exposure.

Planning for the Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage

One of the biggest trends in data security right now is a dearth in cybersecurity professionals. We know that pros are needed in security admin roles, but there just aren’t enough high-level admins and network technicians to go around – much less those that specialize in security specifically. This means sharing, outsourcing, automating, and other techniques to cover the workforce shortage will be needed.

Coronavirus-Themed Phishing Scams

Two IT security professionals looking at code and discussing data security

Coronavirus caused a lot of strife, confusion, and vulnerability in the workforce. Hackers have jumped right on that band-wagon and have been crafting COVID-themed phishing material for months now. The trend is only rising further as the pandemic causes more and more people to eagerly reach for any sort of lifeboat in their personal struggles.

Prepare your entire staff to keep an eye out for coronavirus phishing and protect themselves from these toxic attempts to get money, steal information, or spread malware.

Phishing that Targets Key Remote Employees

Similarly, hackers have also recognized that isolated employees working from home are a new target demographic. Marketers and financial team members are the most at-risk. Accountants are targeted in an attempt to commit fraud or steal sensitive information, while marketers are the most likely targets for phishing and malware because they must remain receptive to outside messages.

Those suddenly transferred to at-home positions are especially vulnerable. They may suddenly lack the company’s server protections and spam email blocking. The communication chaos created by everyone suddenly meeting on the cloud has also created loopholes for phishing hackers to sneak in.

Build protocols that will help to protect your team from false inter-office communications and false partner/customer contacts.

The Rise of Account Takeovers

Account takeovers are when a hacker steals the login information for one employee’s account (or just cracks in) and takes over using their account as if they were the person. The original owner often finds themselves locked out with the password – and maybe even their phone and email – changed for account access.

The worst thing about account takeovers is that they appear to be local employee activity – unless you have monitoring to catch suspicious login locations or account behaviors.

Fake Ransomware

Ransomware has become a fun, dramatic genre of malware, like the murder-mystery of malicious programs. Some hackers love to showily scare their victims instead of just quietly stealing files. But not all hackers who like the idea of ransomware have the chops to encrypt/decrypt effectively, or even implement someone else’s ransomware template.

Strangely, what this means is that not all ransoms are real. With the right network isolation and backup-recovery plan in place, sometimes just purging the ransomware will set everything back to normal. Sometimes nothing has been encrypted, or only renamed, or a far more recoverable ploy was used.

Business Cloud Security

The cloud was already taking over as the most convenient way to run a modern business. Now it is necessary. The issue with cloud security is that the business and every team member share the security level of the cloud platform. A cloud platform with low security puts the company and the team at risk of being hacked. A cloud platform with high security, encryption, and monitored networks will pass that security on to the

So the quality and completion of your cloud cybersecurity is the new watermark for the entire company’s data security.

Another Look at IoT Network Security

IoT data security was the topic-of-the-hour in 2018 when the smart home craze was first catching fire. Now smart homes are much more reliable and the devices available are pretty cool – but IoT security has not improved much in the meantime.

IoT / smart home devices are still poorly secured and often difficult to properly secure. Every office and every home using smart devices should have a separate guest-type network to ensure that business data and smart home access do not share a wifi network.

Compliance with Data Security Regulations

The PCI DSS, HIPAA, and the GDPR are only the beginning of data security regulations. Between just those three we can encompass most modern businesses that have customers nationally or overseas. Data security regulation is no joke and the overlapping regulations touching each company are increasing. Many enterprises are assigning dedicated team members just to maintaining compliance with the multiple data security standards and regulations that apply to the business.

AI vs AI in the Cybersecurity War

Last but not least is the increase in automation – both for hackers and cybersecurity methods. It’s AI vs AI as machine learning teaches itself to spot suspicious activity and take action. Hackers have their worms and corrupted marketing personalization software. We have network monitoring and live data analysis AIs. The automation and innovation are creating some of the most intuitive AI programs to date.

Data security is a serious matter and has become a focal point as we approach 2021. If you want to discuss the data security of your business, reach out to a Provato Group security expert to consult on your company’s security infrastructure.

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