Ransomware, growing data sprawl, hybrid working, the nascent but growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies – these were some of the developments that made their presence felt in 2021. As we move into 2022, these developments will continue to make a significant impact on data protection and management. Bearing these in mind, we pick up our crystal ball for the following predictions for the year ahead:
AI and ML will propel the next wave of ransomware attacks
The past year saw a surge of ransomware attacks worldwide across all industry sectors, with cyber threats growing in sophistication and scale. In 2022, we expect cyber criminals to significantly level up their game using more seamless AI and ML augmented attacks that can automatically adapt to avoid detection. AI-driven attacks can mimic normal system communication, improve phishing attacks by framing email messages like a real person to gain trust and credibility, solve CAPTCHAs to gain authentication – and even use voice, video, and image deepfakes to gain unauthorized access.
AI and ML will enable data protection for good
Just as cyber criminals will look for new technologies to perpetrate more devastating attacks, we expect organizations to turn to AI-powered security and data protection as an armour to secure infrastructures and protect their data. AI and ML driven tools are continuously learning and improving on their own at much faster speed than humans could hope to achieve, enabling them to anticipate and counter AI-led attacks in a machine versus machine battle.
We are also moving closer to a reality where bots will take a bigger role in proactive monitoring for downtime and faults. This will be a critical differentiator for organizations – with IT managers taking preventative action before a disruption ever occurs and giving people time to focus on valuable tasks and on innovation.
Hybrid working model will intensify cyber security concerns
The hybrid working model is here to stay, with a recent report predicting that 47% of knowledge workers will work remotely in 2022, compared to 27% pre-pandemic. The rise in hybrid working has intensified the cyber security concerns faced by organizations, as there are new demands to manage more data with more endpoint devices residing in different locations.
In addition, the shift to hybrid or “work from anywhere” culture is also driving up the volume of on-the-go conversations over text, phone, video, social platforms, or chat, with workers using a variety of different tools to communicate among themselves or speak to different contacts. However, what is driven by convenience for knowledge workers will result in data management complexities for companies. According to Veritas research, 64% of office worker employees in Singapore have admitted to sharing sensitive and business-critical company data using these online collaboration tools, exposing their companies to risk.
To mitigate against cyber and compliance risks, data created at the edge or the cloud will require the same enterprise-class protection, with proper classification for regulatory purpose. To overcome this, we expect IT team to accelerate the shift to a more unified approach, where IT can manage data archiving, privacy, risk, and discovery from a single unified and integrated platform. This would help them better tackle IT complexity, address data threats, and ensure compliance in the coming year.
Predicting intelligent information will gain speed
The hybrid workplace has also spawned a massive increase in the amount of data being generated across multiple sources, and it is essential for businesses to be able to capture, archive, and discover this rapidly growing volume of data. However, with the vast amount of data being generated, this process can be quite costly. Moreover, a lot of this data is classified as “dark data” – information that is collected during regular operational activities, processed, and stored, but is not used for any other purposes – further compounding the issue.
In the year ahead, organizations will start proactively predicting intelligent content right at the edge to get a better sense of what data really matters. They will increasingly turn to technology that leverages AI data patterns and policies to make an intelligent prediction of what content needs to be captured and analyzed. This in turn, will significantly lower costs and improve efficiencies. This is the next wave of managing not just data, but information, at its source.
Generative IT boom will lead to a new data category for businesses to manage
Artificial intelligence will also make an impact with generative AI – technologies that take existing content and repurpose or recombine them to create new text, images, audio, and video content. This segment is poised to explode; Gartner predicts that Generative IT will grow from creating 1% of all data today, to 10% of all data in the next three-and-a-half years. However, this also means the creation of a whole new category of data for businesses to manage and protect. Companies will need to set in place the right classification tools to ensure that data lifecycle is managed, secured, and stored in a compliant way, or this could become the dark data of the future.
Additionally, generative technology algorithms require an enormous amount of data training to “learn” and perform tasks. Organizations that want to effectively deploy generative tech must factor in critical aspects of data management, such as preparing and cleaning data, integrating data from diverse sources, training AI models, and ensuring sound data governance.
Storage-as-a-Service will grow in importance for data protection
The series of high-profile ransomware attacks on essential service providers and data breaches worldwide in 2021 underscored how organizations are much more vulnerable than before, with ever-growing reliance on data. With hackers growing in boldness and sophistication, and ransomware attack vectors proliferating, data protection has become the last line of defence for organizations.
The COVID-19 driven IT initiatives is also taking a toll on organizations. For example, the average business would need to hire 27 additional IT staff just to get the security on their COVID projects completed in the next year. In the global war for talent, this will give impetus to businesses to hand off more elements of their backup infrastructure to be managed remotely. Embracing Storage-as-a-Service for their protection data will also allow organizations to free up IT teams to focus on more strategic tasks, while the Storage-as-a-Service provider can take on the management of their target environment. This market is projected to reach over USD 100 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 31.5% from 2019 to 2026.
As we head into 2022, the road to recovery and growth will remain fraught with disruptions. The ability to use new technologies to eliminate security breaches and weaknesses, while strengthening data resiliency and business agility, will enable organizations to stay ahead of the pack and secure their digital future.