The year 2020 turned out to be an unprecedented year, with the pandemic wreaking havoc on global economies by hurting businesses small and large. The first half of 2021 has been much the same. The pandemic has caused an unpredictability never experienced before, providing new opportunities for cybercriminals to target services, companies and individuals. For example, the sudden increase of ransomware attacks on hospitals and healthcare centers, such as the attack that struck the Irish healthcare service, could very well turn out to be a new cybersecurity trend for the rest of the year.

Considering the post-pandemic increase in the number of people working remotely, combined with the developments in digital technology, we can expect several new developments in cybersecurity and see others becoming the new norm. The following are four cybersecurity predictions for the remainder of 2021, compiled by the cybersecurity gurus at PacketLabs.

Ransomware could become commonplace

Ransomware has been a persistent cybersecurity threat for over two decades. However, such attacks have increased in frequency and severity since the pandemic and are expected to become more commonplace. Estimated damages from this type of cybercrime have increased from $11.5 million in 2019 to $20 million in 2020. And for the first time, a death resulting from a ransomware attack was reported in 2020 in Germany from an attack on a hospital.

“Double extortion is the trend that attackers have gone to in 2020 because the attack circumvents the defences, like backups and a good incident response strategy, that companies have put into place,” says Nick Rossmann, global threat intelligence lead for IBM Security X-Force. “This shift is a natural evolution of where attackers are going to go in response to companies’ defences.” Ransomware and phishing-style attacks are considered to be the greatest cyber threat in 2021.

Cloud security and associated risks will be a cybersecurity trend

Cloud adoption has drastically gone up since the pandemic as businesses are forced to accommodate a large workforce working remotely. Not only does the cloud provide organizations with the flexibility to scale up operations easily, its inherent safety capabilities, such as fast and automatic security patch deployments, also provide additional resilience against cyber attacks and security compromises.

Even with efficient safety capabilities, cloud-related security threats could emerge in the form of misconfigured storage, ill-managed identity and access management controls, applications with inherent vulnerabilities, to name a few cloud-related risks.

AI-based cybersecurity is likely to become more commonplace

As per a report by Meticulous Research, AI in the cybersecurity market is projected to touch $46.3 billion by 2027.

Considering Machine Learning (ML) technologies’ capabilities to analyze and make sense of vast quantities of data in short periods of time, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is well suited to safeguard organizations against all manner of security threats. And with AI and ML technologies maturing fast, they are well-positioned to become the next cybersecurity trend in 2021.

On the other hand, AI technology in the hands of cybercriminals will also be a security threat that cybersecurity teams will have to contend with. Bad actors could use AI-powered automated tools to find new vulnerabilities in existing systems and create new variants of old malicious scripts adapted to overcome existing security protections. AI-based social engineering techniques could also become harder to detect and defeat.

Automation in cybersecurity and cybercrime

Another common growing technology trend that is expected to become a cybersecurity trend for the rest of 2021 is automation. The same advantages of automation that apply elsewhere also apply to security processes. Automating repetitive security tasks is one of them, which can reduce the risks of errors and also increase efficiency and reduce the time taken to detect and respond to threats and risks.

As with most technology-based cybersecurity trends, automation is a double-edged sword. It can be leveraged by cybercriminals to operate all the more complex and expansive spear-phishing operations. Through automation, cybercriminals can scan vast amounts of publicly available information to target a larger number of victims and also send out more phishing emails in a short period of time.

Conclusion

Cybersecurity is a constant battle between cybersecurity professionals and cybercriminals, which continues to get more complex with the emergence of newer trends in cybersecurity and technology. For an organization to stay protected and minimize the risks of a security compromise requires the expert assistance of certified professionals who can assess your IT infrastructure and applications and identify potential risks before the cybercriminals do.

PacketLabs is a certified and trusted ethical hacking team based in Toronto, which can provide a range of simulated cyber attack-based services such as penetration testing, objective-based penetration testing and managed security QA. Stay on top of your cybersecurity game no matter the trend by requesting a free quote.