By Devin Partida, Editor-in-Chief, ReHack.com
2020 was a year full of changes. As the COVID-19 pandemic repeatedly brought new challenges, businesses have had to adapt to face them. Now, at the start of a new year, the need for change is still as pressing as ever.
In the first half of 2020, there were more cyberattacks than all of 2019, according to one report. Cybercriminals leaped at new opportunities that arose out of the pandemic, and they won’t stop in 2021. If businesses hope to stay safe this year, they’ll need to make some changes to their cybersecurity strategy.
1. Focus on the Human Element
Many companies transitioned into remote work in 2020, and this will likely continue into 2021. This shift has contributed to several new cybersecurity challenges, including a 715.08% increase in ransomware compared to 2019. The most important step in dealing with this new threat landscape is an emphasis on employee training.
It’s now harder for workers to reach out to security teams, and rising threats like ransomware target human weaknesses. To take on these challenges, businesses need to train all employees on basic cyber hygiene. Companies will become far safer by teaching workers to spot phishing attempts, maintain secure password management, and enact other safety measures.
2. Embrace Zero-Trust Frameworks
Another way companies can address remote work challenges is by adopting a zero-trust approach to cybersecurity. With so many employees now using their personal devices for work, endpoint-level security isn’t always possible, much less straightforward. Companies must segment their networks and implement strict access controls to maximize safety.
Zero-trust security ensures that one remote employee’s poor security won’t compromise the entire system. Security teams will be able to find and address issues sooner. Though it’s not the most convenient option, it provides the safety that businesses need in 2021.
3. Capitalize on Convergence
Another challenge facing cybersecurity workers in 2021 is reduced budgets. Global IT spending fell 8% in 2020, and this trend will likely continue as companies struggle amid COVID-related losses. In light of these budget cuts, cybersecurity teams may need to look to convergence for relief.
All-in-one platforms are more cost-effective than their single-purpose counterparts. By converging multiple security systems into a single solution, companies can make the most of their diminished IT budget.
4. Create Redundancies Through Backups
No matter how advanced a business’s cybersecurity strategy is, accidents can still happen. As cybercrime continues to rise and evolve, companies need to prepare for recovery, not just prevention. One of the most crucial aspects of that endeavor is creating backups.
Most companies already have backups, but one isn’t enough. Experts recommend that businesses maintain at least three copies of mission-critical data in multiple formats and storage types. Given the tremendous growth in cybercrime and the rising cost of a breach, one backup is no longer sufficient.
5. Eliminate Legacy Systems
2021 allows companies to finally move away from legacy solutions and devices. Now that the workforce and even the nature of work are shifting, older systems may not be sufficient. Traditional security software won’t likely meet the needs of a distributed workforce, so it’s time to move away from them.
For example, many companies have relied on VPNs to protect remote workers in the past. As 2020’s Twitter breach showcased, cybercriminals can easily get past these, even using them to access the rest of a company’s network. As businesses make changes, they should move away from outdated security models.
A New Year Demands New Approaches to Cybersecurity
Effective cybersecurity has always depended on the capacity to adapt to new challenges. This year, as companies face an unprecedented era of change, this adaptability is more crucial than ever. The safest businesses in 2021 will be those that can effectively implement these changes.
Devin Partida is an industrial tech writer and the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com, a digital magazine for all things technology, big data, cryptocurrency, and more. To read more from Devin, please check out the site.