There was more than a little hype surrounding the surge in remote workforces as the “new normal.” The hot-trending topic enjoyed plenty of statistics to support the idea we would all be working remotely in 2021. A prominent Gartner survey indicated that upwards of 82 percent of company leaders planned to maintain some degree of off-site workforce. Other statistics pointed to one out of every four Americans expecting to work remotely in 2021.
But all the work-from-anywhere hype typically failed to consider alternative facts. If 82 percent may allow some out-of-office productivity, that means there will be in-office hours. And one-in-four expecting to work off-site puts three-in-four in a brick-and-mortar facility. The point is that 2021 appears to be shaping up as the year of the “hybrid workforce.” And this in-between space could leave organizations increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Some of the IT industry’s thought leaders weighed in on cybersecurity and business survival in 2021.
The conventional wisdom once focused on protecting in-house servers. The cost-effective benefits of transitioning to a cloud-based system changed that thinking, and cybersecurity experts often took the next logical step — protect mobile devices. But experienced IT and cybersecurity professionals see a significant culture shift occurring that neither prioritizes on-site or mobile devices.
“The rapid changes IT organizations faced in 2020 have shifted the focus for many from a network security model to a data-centric security model. Network security puts security controls around physical networks and office locations, while data-centric security puts defense-in-depth controls around the data itself,” Don Baham, president of Kraft Technology Group, reportedly said. “That shift was beginning to happen naturally for many companies, but 2020 pushed the change forward considerably faster than many were ready for. And while there may have been a haphazard approach for data security implemented in 2020, 2021 will need to be a year spent revisiting and strengthening the new security model.”
Data-centric cybersecurity models are not necessarily a new concept. Industry insiders have been tossing around the philosophy for years. It overcomes many of the shortcomings of relying on firewalls and anti-virus software for protection. But, as Baham points out, the radical changes and cloud reliance that occurred during 2020 appear to have fast-tracked a need for a new cybersecurity model.
The number of cybersecurity breaches continues to grow, and some businesses appear unable to survive one. According to a report by CSO Online, the average cost of a data breach reached $3.86 million. Other outlets peg system intrusions as low as $200,000. Regardless of how significant the financial and reputation losses, more than half of small businesses end up in bankruptcy in six months or less after an attack. These are the type of facts that support conclusions reached by Anthony Buonaspina, CEO and founder of LI Tech Advisors.
“Cybersecurity is quickly becoming the most important aspect of running a successful business. Companies that can adjust quickly to the ever-changing landscape of protecting a business against cyberattacks will survive. The ones that don’t can be quickly put out of business,” Buonaspina reportedly said. “Cybercrime is extremely profitable and is not going away any time soon. The types of attacks are getting more and more sophisticated. The future of cybersecurity can be summed up in one phrase, “The Quick and the Dead.”
Buonaspina brings more than 30 years of experienced thought leadership to the table. He warns that more sophisticated phishing attacks using AI and data metrics will surface in 2021. Home automation conveniences such as 5G and IoT will become high-value targets from hackers. He also points out that cybercriminals routinely focus on mobile devices. Mobile platform manipulation reportedly accounts for 60 percent of online fraud.
Carl Fransen, founder, and CEO of CTECH Consulting Group provided some pragmatic advice to avoid extinction in 2021.
“With the rapid adoption of the cloud being the de facto tool for business productivity — combined with the increased sophistication of threat actors — there’s a realization that the traditional username and password no longer provide adequate security,” Fransen reportedly said. “IT departments and IT firms need to ramp up to embrace the current line of evolving security products as standard offerings. Documents now need to be protected and controlled after they leave the secured corporate network. Data governance policies need to be applied to ensure that data leakage or data theft does not occur. Identify management will help ensure the identity of whoever is logging in.”
Decision-makers may discover that spicy headlines don’t accurately forecast the business landscape. Remote work may be the new normal for some, but organizations are more likely to exist in a hybrid space. That future could lead to unanticipated vulnerabilities unless you work with a cybersecurity and managed IT specialist prepared to out-think hackers.