5 key cybersecurity risks in 2021, and how to address them now

With an unexpected year of massive change behind us, many organizations have now an extensive remote workforce, new technologies in use, and digital transformation under way across the board. While this has introduced many opportunities for SMBs, it has also come with a host of cybersecurity challenges.

cybersecurity risks 2021

To meet these challenges, you must start by addressing several key points of potential weakness. Outlined below are the areas businesses must plan for in their 2021 cybersecurity strategy in order to minimize risks.

Endpoint threats

Over 70% of threats enter via endpoints. With many remote employees relying on always-on endpoints like laptops and servers, VPNs and cloud-based SaaS, it’s important to take an overarching look at how to implement a full-coverage solution.

Use a comprehensive, layered cybersecurity strategy to reduce the risk associated with the remote workforce, augmenting or even replacing legacy tools like antivirus that aren’t equipped to combat today’s threats. Put your SIEM to work by expanding its scope to every endpoint, adding defense-in-depth capabilities for susceptible devices and leveraging threat prevention, detection and response for a holistic strategy.

Work-from-home vulnerabilities

The remote workforce has brought a lot to the table: flexibility, adaptability, and, unfortunately, a number of new attack vectors. We have undergone a fast pivot to work-from-home and the transition to dispersed devices and new networks has uncovered potential security issues.

Network security alone can no longer be used as a safety measure for mobile devices and remote employees. Implementing secure remote connections and multifactor authentication (MFA) are critical to maintaining security across enterprise operations.

Cloud security risks

As a result of COVID-19 and the WFH era, businesses turned their focus to business continuity, and for many this meant an accelerated migration to the cloud. This widespread shift made cloud security a top priority and baked-in security features an expectation. This migration of business-critical data to the cloud brought more reliance on cloud platform controls and management capabilities. With this increase, it’s critical to remember that protecting the data, applications and infrastructures associated with cloud computing is just as vital as on-premises IT architectures.

Find a cloud-knowledgeable partner or MSSP to help you choose the right approach to ensure cloud security that matches your goals and helps establish compliance with industry regulations.

78% of Microsoft 365 admins don’t activate MFA. Another top-of-mind threat for the cloud is human error, including misconfigurations that may lead to data leakage. Enhanced cloud monitoring and visibility can help to account for these threats in the future, and can keep data safe, detect suspicious behavior and trace unexpected events and actions.

Shortage of staff and skills

Cybersecurity technologies have become more advanced and more available than ever, and this has led to a consistent pattern of over-reliance on point products to defend against threats. While technology is essential to this mission, it isn’t a standalone solution. Oftentimes, mid-market businesses lack dedicated cybersecurity resources that are just as valuable. This skill shortage has been heightened by the pandemic, as the network diagram has expanded to include surfaces like at-home PCs and other WFH access points.

According to the Verizon DBIR, almost one in three data breaches in 2020 involved small businesses, and mitigation will take a planned combination of both people, processes and technology. Hiring more security professionals, especially with the growth in demand, can be an expensive undertaking.

Rather than investing in an internal 24/7 security operations center (SOC), outsourcing this work has become an appealing option that is a cost-effective and essential addition to your defense strategy. This team can work in a way that unifies disparate technologies with process to create a singular, strong point of visibility.

New threats

As detection and response technology gets better, threat actors have been adjusting their methods in tandem. Multi-stage attacks like ransomware or “low and slow” hacks have emerged as new threats to businesses. These attacks are often enabled through stolen credentials, which can then be used to perform reconnaissance to infiltrate company systems and data.

One way to stay on ahead of these threats is to employ proactive measures. Requiring multi-factor authentication (MFA), for example, can help to combat the use of stolen credentials. Managed threat protection solutions that provide end-to-end security from prediction and prevention to detection and response can alert you to these attacks before damage is done.

Cybersecurity risks 2021: Planning ahead

Threat actors will get smarter, new technology will increase weaknesses and human error is always on the table. But there are ways to minimize the risk these threats pose.

For many businesses, this means working with a partner who helps to expand their cybersecurity maturity and meet their security goals. For others, it means augmenting their cybersecurity portfolio with new frameworks, processes and IT staff.

In the path to achieving cybersecurity excellence, the very first step is identifying what areas need the most attention. It’s 2021 – do you know where your most sensitive data is?

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