Santa has been making his list and checking it twice. Will you (and your organization’s cyber security practices) make the Nice list? Or did you fall on the naughty side this year?
Either way, now is the best time to begin preparation so that you are setup for a good Christmas in 2021.
Right up to the end of the year, massive cyber-attacks and high-profile data breaches made headlines in 2020. In the year ahead, organizations must prepare for the unknown, so they have the flexibility to endure unexpected and high impact security events. To take advantage of emerging trends in both technology and cyberspace, businesses need to manage risks in ways beyond those traditionally handled by the information security function, since innovative attacks will most certainly impact both business reputation and shareholder value.
Based on comprehensive assessments of the threat landscape, businesses focus on the following security topics in 2021:
- Cybercrime: Malware, ID Theft, Ransomware and Network Attacks
- Insider Threats are Real
- The Digital Generation Becomes the Scammer’s Dream
- Edge Computing Pushes Security to the Brink
- Rushed Digital Transformations Destroy Trust
An overview for each of these areas can be found below:
Cybercrime: Malware, ID Theft, Ransomware and Network Attacks
We have seen an increase in cybercrime targeting the COVID-19 “opportunity”. Not restricted to ransomware attacks on hospitals, this has also seen targeting of remote workers who are accessing corporate systems. Setting up fraudulent charities, fraudulent loans, extortion along with an increase in traditional phishing and malware are all on the increase. The changing threat landscape requires risk management and security practitioners to pay close attention to how exposures change over the coming months and the circumstances that influence the level of protection.
Insider Threats are Real
The insider threat is one of the greatest drivers of security risks that organizations face as a malicious insider utilizes credentials to gain access to a given organization’s critical assets. Many organizations are challenged to detect internal nefarious acts, often due to limited access controls and the ability to detect unusual activity once someone is already inside their network. The threat from malicious insider activity is an increasing concern, especially for financial institutions, and will continue to be so in 2021.
The Digital Generation Becomes the Scammer’s Dream
The next generation of employees will enter the workplace, introducing new information security concerns to organizations. Their attitudes toward sharing information will fall short of the requirements for good information security. Reckless attitudes to sharing information online will set new norms for security and privacy, undermining awareness activities; attackers will use sophisticated social engineering techniques to manipulate individuals into giving up their employer’s critical information assets.
Edge Computing Pushes Security to the Brink
Edge computing will be an attractive architectural choice for organizations; however, it will also become a key target for attackers. It will create numerous points of failure and will lose many benefits of traditional security solutions. Organizations will lose the visibility, security and analysis capabilities associated with cloud service providers; attackers will exploit blind spots, targeting devices on the periphery of the network environment, causing significant downtime.
Rushed Digital Transformations Destroy Trust
Organizations will undertake evermore complex digital transformations – deploying AI, blockchain or robotics – expecting them to seamlessly integrate with underlying systems. Those that get it wrong will have their data compromised. Consumers and dependent supply chains will lose trust in organizations that do not integrate systems and services effectively; new vulnerabilities and attack vectors will be introduced, attracting opportunistic attackers.
A Continued Need to Involve the Board
The role of the C-Suite has undergone significant transformation over the last decade. Public scrutiny of business leaders is at an all-time high, in part due to massive hacks and data breaches. It’s become increasingly clear in the last two years that in the event of a breach, the hacked organization will be blamed and held accountable.
The executive team sitting at the top of an organization has the clearest, broadest view. A serious, shared commitment to common values and strategies is at the heart of a good working relationship between the C-suite and the board. Without sincere, ongoing collaboration, complex challenges like cyber security will be unmanageable. Covering all the bases—defense, risk management, prevention, detection, remediation, and incident response—is better achieved when leaders contribute from their expertise and use their unique vantage point to help set priorities and keep security efforts aligned with business objectives.
Incidents will happen as it is impossible to avoid every breach. But you can commit to building a mature, realistic, broad-based, collaborative approach to cyber security and resilience. Maturing your organization’s ability to detect intrusions quickly and respond expeditiously will be of the highest importance in 2021 and beyond.
Don’t forget. Santa is watching. Make sure you end up on his Nice list in the year to come!
About the author: Steve Durbin is Managing Director of the Information Security Forum (ISF). His main areas of focus include strategy, information technology, cyber security and the emerging security threat landscape across both the corporate and personal environments. Previously, he was senior vice president at Gartner.