2020 proved to be a difficult year for many businesses, particularly with regard to IT and cyber security. From managing remote working solutions to ensuring that IT systems were flexible to meet the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners have had to make many unforeseen changes. And as the fraught year of 2020 drew to a close, a sophisticated cyberattack on third-party software from Solarwinds, used by companies large and small across the U.S., resulted in numerous network breaches.
So it comes as no surprise that IT professionals are on high alert moving into the new year.
As we move into 2021, unsure of what the year will bring in terms of remote working and its effect on IT infrastructure, it's more important than ever to be aware of potential cyber security threats. As IT systems are rendered more vulnerable due to remote work, cyber security threats like phishing scams and ransomware are only going to keep rising.
That’s why we’ve detailed the key cyber security threats you should watch for in 2021.
Tried and True Cyber Security Threats
Despite the ever-changing cyber security threat landscape and the unusual challenges the pandemic has brought business owners, there are an array of threats that have always and will continue to be dangerous, primarily due to their effectiveness and ease of deployment. These threats include:
- Targeted phishing attacks: smishing, vishing, website forgeries, etc.
- These attacks, which typically trick users into clicking links that activate malware, ransomware or other viruses, are likely to get more sophisticated in the coming year.
- A cyber security threat that costs victims millions of dollars each year, ransomware holds an individual’s or organization’s database and systems for ransom. In 2021, expect to see more sophisticated and highly targeted ransomware breaches that are difficult, time-consuming and costly to recover from.
- Social engineering
- In social engineering cyber security attacks, hackers exploit human nature by using a variety of media including emails, text messages, social media messages and more to trick victims into giving them access to sensitive details such as login credentials and credit card information. These types of attacks are particularly dangerous during a time in which many people are increasingly reliant on their mobile devices and computers to connect to one another. Many social engineering attacks are cleverly disguised as common social activities such as online fundraising, chatting and messaging.
Remote Work Threats
As more companies shift to remote work, much of which may remain even after the coronavirus pandemic has eased, hackers are beginning to capitalize on the weaknesses of remote working solutions to facilitate their cyber security attacks.
Throughout 2021, business owners need to be diligent about protecting remote workers, because the lack of network security in many work-from-home solutions and devices can be ineffective in protecting against phishing attacks and other threats. As a result, many data breaches occur via off-site devices such as mobile phones and laptops.
The rise of telecommuting has led to many businesses shifting to cloud-based solutions. From storage to communication, businesses are utilizing cloud solutions now more than ever. And, cloud vulnerability is a concern every business should have going into 2021.
Many components of securing the cloud are left in your hands as a business owner, including monitoring user access, optimizing the configuration, updates, and system health--and failing to address these could present a hacker with ample opportunity for gaining access to your systems.
Emerging Cyber Security Threats
As technology continues to evolve, so do the cyber security threats that businesses must prepare for. A variety of emerging threats pose increasing risks to businesses of all sizes. Some of these newer threats include:
- IoT and smart devices. IoT, or the Internet of Things, includes all devices that are connected to the internet, such as laptops, tablets, mobile devices, webcams, home appliances, smart televisions, medical devices, vehicles and more. Although these devices make life easier for businesses in many ways, they also pose a great risk in terms of cyber security, as they offer countless access points through which hackers can gain control of IT systems. As more IoT devices are utilized in the coming year, inevitably more network security will be required to manage them.
- AI enhancements and machine learning. Many organizations are utilizing AI and machine learning to help operate their businesses and even combat cyber security attacks. However, in addition, hackers are using AI and machine learning to create sophisticated attacks.
- Deepfakes. During deepfake cyber security attacks, AI is utilized to create realistic sounding/looking audio and visual media to trick victims into believing something that isn’t true. As technologies advance over the next year, be on the lookout for even more realistic and convincing forms of fake media.
- 5G vulnerabilities. The emergence of more 5G network accessibility has resulted in many wireless carriers utilizing Wi-Fi networks to help save bandwidth for calls and mobile data access. The process of the 5G to Wi-Fi handover results in a wide variety of new vulnerabilities that cyber security criminals are quick to exploit. This will only continue as more 5G networks are deployed in 2021.
CoreTech — Here for Businesses in 2021 and Beyond
The CoreTech team understands the importance of threat detection when it comes to cyber security. That's why we offer multi-layered threat detection solutions to help better protect your business no matter what unexpected events come your way in the coming year.
Contact us for a free quote today and begin protecting your business throughout 2021 and beyond.