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5 Cybersecurity Trends CISOs Must Track in 2021

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By Neelesh Kripalani, Sr. VP & Head- Center of Excellence, Clover Infotech

As we head into a new decade, it’s obvious to think about what the future will have in store for us. The year 2020 will be the one that everyone would like to forget. From a cybersecurity perspective too, this year was buzzing for all the wrong reasons. Over the last 3 months, India has witnessed a rise in ransomware attacks by over 39 per cent, making it the second most impacted country in the world. While the world was focused on the health and economic threats posed by Covid-19, cyber criminals around the world were capitalizing on this crisis. In fact, we can expect to see attacks on the healthcare sector in India continue to rise well into 2021, hence there is a need to keep pace with trends that will shape how we address cybersecurity.

1. Cloud-based cybersecurity: Covid-19 has fast-tracked the shift towards cloud adoption in 2020 and as a result, cloud-based cybersecurity has evolved along the way too. Organizations, traditionally, kept their networks secure by locally installing anti-virus, anti-malware, and other software. As per a forecast by Gartner Inc., spending on public cloud services in India is estimated to touch 4.1 billion dollars in 2021, up by 29.4% from last year. However, with increased cloud adoption and improved sophistication of cyber-attacks, these conventional security mechanisms are no longer sufficient. The use of a cloud-based cybersecurity strategy offers a whole lot more benefits than traditional security strategies, especially if your network is cloud-based. Gartner has also estimated a growth of 31.2% on cloud management and security services, thereby emphasizing the need for sure-fire cloud based security.

2. ‘Zero Trust’ Cybersecurity (Never Trust, Always Verify): Every organization, irrespective of their size, can fall prey to cyber-attacks. The traditional approach to cybersecurity relies upon barriers (aka firewalls) that control traffic coming in and out of a network. The problem with this approach is that with the explosion of cloud computing, we are more globally connected than ever before. Thus, adopting ‘Zero Trust’ approach makes more sense as it assumes no barriers i.e. don’t trust anything by default, starting with the network. ‘Zero Trust’ ensures that critical assets can only be reached by those offering proof positive that they have the credentials, identity, and need to access them.

3. Security Operations Center (SOC) becomes the necessity: Security Operations Center (SOC) is a centralized unit dealing with high-quality IT security operations. As opposed to a traditional IT department, the SOC team comprises of highly experienced cybersecurity analysts and trained engineers. Considering the evolving nature of cyber-attacks, it will become imperative (especially for large organizations) to form a SOC team that can help to stay ahead of potential threats.

4. AI-enabled Cybersecurity: To keep up with the rate and speed of cyber-attacks is extremely difficult for humans. Thus, using technologies such as AI to beef up cybersecurity and improve the rate of responding to attack is more of a necessity than a matter of choice. In the coming year, we can expect advances in AI and ML that will allow devices to self-secure, and heal by as much as 80%. This, in turn, will allow IT departments to set policies and be assured that their data, and devices are safe. At the same time, though cybersecurity will greatly benefit from the use of AI (and its subsets- ML and DL) to stem the flow of cyber-attacks, due diligence by cybersecurity experts should also be done periodically in order to ensure that there is no glitch that can be exploited by hackers.

5. Data Analytics: The advantage of digital is the availability of the data. This data could help organizations to stay one step ahead of hackers. Data Analytics (or Big Data Analytics) can be one of the most effective tools to predict and prevent cyber-attacks. Through a strongly digitized system, and the analysis of the data gathered from these systems, it can not only identify anomalies in user behaviour, network activities etc., but also be used to understand the machine’s condition, which can be useful to detect and respond to cyber-attacks better.

Last but not the least…Be proactive!

Cyber risks are here to stay and they are going to rise (as it only takes one bad click to breach your system). In 2020, we saw the rise of threat attackers cherry pick protocols that were used for meaningful exploitation. While this is likely to continue in 2021, attacks on Network Time Protocol (NTP) and Windows-time service may be next.

Even with the increased awareness on the importance of cybersecurity, globally, it is predicted that in 2021, there could be one attack every 11 seconds! Hence, the need of the hour moving forward, is to focus on the entire threat lifecycle in a proactive manner.


If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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