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2021 Trends in Cybersecurity

The highly sophisticated Russian hack that hit the Pentagon, multiple U.S. agencies, nuclear labs and Fortune 500 companies in December has brought cybersecurity back into the daily discussion. President-elect Joe Biden said he intends to make cybersecurity “a top priority at every level of government” from the moment he takes office.

An attack of this magnitude should jolt enterprises from any lingering “breach fatigue” and jump-start efforts around protecting sensitive data. With that in mind, here are the top cybersecurity trends that will emerge in 2021.

Prevention, not reaction

The future of security lies in a proactive approach. A proactive security approach is designed to prevent attacks rather than react after an attack has happened. The days of waiting for an attack to be detected, then taking steps to quarantine it have passed. Such traditional, reactive approaches have become ineffective against increasingly sophisticated attack methods. Proactive developments in security, like micro-segmentation and the concept of Zero Trust architecture, reduce the attack surface to a bare minimum to prevent breaches.

Security as a platform

Buying individual security technologies or solutions results in a piecemeal approach. Companies need a unified platform that can provide proactive protection that traditional point solutions are unable to deliver. With a unified platform, businesses can quit addressing threats and vulnerabilities individually and instead address them systematically across networks, applications, users and devices using one integrated solution. This growing preference for a single, unified platform over traditional point solutions will continue in 2021 and beyond.

Destiny disrupted for networks

With remote work being the new norm, security can no longer be focused on the data center and instead must move to the cloud. Correspondingly, expect stalling in the growth of appliance-based security and hardware that is prone to breaking. Anyone who remains committed to on-premises hardware and software will ultimately take a beating on topline performance. It’s simply no longer business-resilient.

A move to the cloud means rethinking your corporate network and adopting microservices and cloud-native applications. The security architecture must also evolve and grant access only to traffic between authenticated users, devices and applications in a distributed organization.

Zero Trust — trust nothing, verify everything

Traditional perimeter security inherently trusts users, endpoints, applications and workloads within the defined perimeter. Time and time again, this approach has proven ineffective by allowing any threat within the network to move laterally and remain undetected for days, even months.

This has paved the way for the Zero Trust concept, which takes a micro-level approach to authenticating access requests at every point within a network. The need for such granular controls has been compounded by the scattering of remote users across the globe. To ensure that every user, application, workload, and network flow is monitored and verified, today’s enterprises are adopting Zero Trust architecture to enforce security policies at the host level with a “trust nothing, verify everything” approach.

Security and compliance — full speed ahead

As cloud adoption increases, and with the shaken economy of 2020, security and compliance will need to be revisited and accelerated. Companies that were forced to lay off security team members have fewer resources to battle fraud. But data breaches remain on the rise, and don’t care how big your security team is. Many IT teams are scrambling to achieve compliance with a remote workforce and address new vulnerabilities resulting from rapid cloud migration. As a result, security programs, compliance, and cybersecurity models like Zero Trust will take off faster in 2021 than we’ve seen in the past.

No one is immune

The problem of ransomware is growing as first-time attacks move from big enterprises to smaller ones. Small and medium-sized businesses will not be spared; they are next on the list. A 2020 survey from Infrascale showed that 46% of SMBs have already been victims. And 73% of those that have been the targets of ransomware attacks paid a ransom.

Wrapping up

It’s easy to become numb to the constant headlines about hacked information and data breaches. After all, if top-level government agencies and even leading cybersecurity firms themselves are vulnerable to attacks, what chance do others have?

But rather than accept it as a facet of doing business, companies of all sizes can take proactive steps to protect themselves. Based in the cloud and continuously updated, these sophisticated Zero Trust security tools are more widely available than ever before, empowering business owners to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats.