If you have been paying attention to tech news and to different tech outlets, you surely came across a statement that’s been repeated so many times it starts to feel like a mantra. The statement in question is “the pandemic has shown that businesses need to pay more attention to cybersecurity.”
Though saying that might feel like a cliché now, it doesn’t hold any less truth. In fact, 2021 will require organizations of all sizes and across industries to strengthen their security infrastructure. There are plenty of reasons for that but it should be enough to say that the financial impact of cybercrime is expected to reach $6 trillion USD this year, an immense toll all of those companies will have to bear.
Such a prediction surely feels intimidating for the entire business community but that doesn’t mean that we all have to resign ourselves to suffer the losses and that’s that. Quite the contrary – there are several things businesses can do to lessen the impact of cyberattacks. Among them, there are 3 fundamental cybersecurity shifts all companies need to do right now. Read on to find which ones.
1. The Beginning of the Zero Trust era
When the pandemic had just started, companies desperately resorted to a work-from-home approach to keep their operations going (wherever possible, that is). But in that rush, security took the backseat. That meant that a lot of those companies relied on the cybersecurity measures they had within their reach: antivirus applications and firewalls.
Naturally, those security measures weren’t enough to meet the potential threats that the remote workforce was about to face. While antivirus software and firewalls are good enough for domestic users, corporate users (which are usually connected to critical company resources) need more robust protections and tighter protocols.
Thus, companies working remotely that prioritized security used those applications as foundations and built extra security layers on top of them. Most of them used VPNs and trained their employees in best security practices. But there was also another key step that gained more popularity – zero trust.
Zero trust is an approach that dramatically increases the strictness of network security. It does so by treating each user, access, and request as a potential threat that needs to be verified. So, rather than trusting that anyone that’s accessing the corporate network has the necessary permissions, zero trust uses smart authentication methods to check that whoever is trying to access effectively has the right and permissions to do so.
Zero trust isn’t a novel approach but it’s one that’s been gaining momentum over the last year. This isn’t a coincidence. As people work remotely and vulnerability points multiply across the entire business spectrum, using such a model stops being a good alternative to traditional security methods and becomes a must-have for any business. Hence, we’re entering the Zero Trust era, which means you need to make the necessary changes to adapt to it.
2. Cyber Resilience as a Fundamental Business Feature
Another direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic is that business owners and executives all around the globe are now paying more attention than ever before to emergency plans and contingency strategies. The objective is pretty straightforward – whenever the new business disruption hits, companies want to have a clear path to move forward.
Of course, it’s impossible to plan for any potential disruption, whether natural or manmade. There are so many unexpected things that could arise that having a plan to answer all of them is a utopia. What businesses can do, though, is better organize themselves to offer quicker and more sophisticated responses to whatever may come their way. Under that light, cyber resilience appears as a fundamental feature all businesses should be after.
Think about it. Your company could be hit by a major weather incident, fall prey to a damaging cyberattack, or even suffer the consequences of a global event (from an interruption in supply chains to a new pandemic). All of those require a different approach that you need to embrace fast, and the only thing you can do to have that capability is developing a resilient nature.
What does resilience mean in this context? First and foremost, the ability to quickly adopt a new workflow in the face of dramatic changes in the way you do things. For instance, at BairesDev we were already working with distributed teams before the pandemic hit. When stay-at-home orders started to arrive, we already had the necessary infrastructure, processes, and policies in place to keep business as usual.
In today’s world, that resilience looks a lot like the right combination of tools (mostly cloud-based platforms and solutions) with a series of methodologies that can quickly accommodate new processes. In our case, our focus on agile methodologies provided us with enough flexibility to face new challenges. That’s a good starting point for you – to understand and adhere to new working models that make sense now and in the future.
3. Increased Importance of Integrated Security
Finally, the pandemic has uncovered something many of us knew for some time now but that has become utterly relevant today: the need for integrated security. That makes sense if you take a glance at the bigger picture. As remote work becomes a work standard across the world, with the rise of cloud computing, and the increased presence of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the number of endpoints that could become a target for cyberattacks is growing exponentially.
That means that companies need to triple their security efforts to cover all the threat fronts. Gone are the days where the IT team just had to worry about securing a centralized corporate network. Today, engineers need to think about the multiple platforms and devices that come into play at any given time. The only way to control all those apps, endpoints, networks, and users? Monitoring tools that provide an integrated view in real-time with the aid of artificial intelligence.
There’s no human team that can offer a comprehensive response to an interconnected system as massive as the ones businesses are configuring right now. Thus, companies need to make a security shift that invests in more sophisticated solutions that ensure performance, robustness, and control over such a populated environment. In that context, AI feels like an invaluable ally for the fight ahead.
That’s not to say that AI alone will be able to reduce or stop attacks altogether. But it’s impossible to think of a single tech solution that’s able to offer the speed and resolution that a well-trained AI algorithm can offer. Sure, you’ll still have to complement it with human instances in critical points but that’s part of the plan for integrated security – combining strengths to achieve superior protection.
Fighting the Fight
These 3 shifts aren’t suggestions that you might opt into – these are must-do changes that all businesses should make as soon as possible to reduce cyberattacks to an acceptable level. The more time you take to do them in your organization, the more you expose yourself to the actions of malicious agents.
So, if you don’t want to pay a significant amount of that $ 6 trillion USD expected for the end of this year, create a security checklist that starts with these 3 items.