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Major Cybersecurity Challenges to Lookout For in 2021

Major Cybersecurity Challenges To Lookout For in 2021

Managing cybersecurity threats is a major challenge for many enterprises especially now in the era of remote working. The increase in cyberattacks can be attributed to two major factors – enterprises having unprotected data, to begin with, and inadequate cybersecurity measures in place, such as red teaming to test cyberattack preparedness, which can reduce real-life cyberattacks.
Looking at the year ahead, organizations need to be cognizant of the cybersecurity threats and challenges to secure business and be prepared if any cyberattack does strike.
Here are the top nine cybersecurity challenges and threats to look out for in 2021 and how to tackle them.

Lack Of Cybersecurity Expertise

Human error is the leading cause of data breaches. About 90% of the data breaches are caused due to human error. Even if your enterprise has an advanced, robust, and state-of-the-art cybersecurity system in place, the lack of cybersecurity experts can leave a massive gap in your cybersecurity initiatives. This gap can quickly be taken advantage of by attackers and cybercriminals for sinister motives. With cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated in the last few years and shifting to remote working, having a skilled and apt cybersecurity team becomes even more vital.

Some ways that enterprises can tackle the issue are:

  • Hiring skilled professionals after a thorough assessment.
  • Deploying red teaming tools to simulate a real-life attack to train employees.
  • Implementing red teaming cybersecurity measures that need to be followed during an actual cyber attack.
  • Providing periodic training to the cybersecurity team regarding new developments in the cybersecurity domain.
  • Implementing recon tools or conducting Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) to identify potential attack vectors and vulnerabilities of the target network and reporting the vulnerabilities according to their levels of risks.
  • Monitoring and measuring changes brought about by the red teaming cybersecurity training program.
  • Gathering employee feedback to improve the cybersecurity program.
  • Deploying continuous automated red teaming software to have constant vigilance on the digital attack surface.

Increase in Cloud-based Attacks

The pandemic has brought a paradigm shift in working, with businesses still functioning on a work-from-home model. This has led to an increased dependence on cloud services and online collaboration tools. It has also allowed cybercriminals to carry out cloud-based cyber-attacks. As per a report, cloud-based cyber-attacks rose 630% between January and April 2020.

Few ways organizations can improve cloud cybersecurity:

  • Deploying Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) ensures only authorized employees can access cloud-based apps and the data stored.
  • Monitoring end-user activities in real-time to spot any irregularities deviating from typical usage scenarios, such as login from an unknown device or a new location.
  • Creating multiple backups of the data to reduce operational downtime and have access to business data even in case of a cyberattack.
  • Running red teaming tools to detect vulnerabilities in the cloud infrastructure and measuring how robust the cloud security services are.

Cyber Attacks on IOT Devices

IoT (Internet of Things) devices are everywhere, and the remote working model accelerates their adoption. As per a report, there will be around fifty-five billion connected devices by 2025. This widespread adoption of IoT devices will undoubtedly increase the risk of cyberattacks. A majority of the IoT devices and IoT security infrastructure is still in their infancy stage.

This provides cybercriminals with an excellent opportunity to target the vulnerabilities associated with these novel technologies. As per a report, only 10% of businesses are very confident in being protected against IoT-based cyberattacks. Such unpreparedness could lead to grave consequences.

Businesses can adopt these steps to protect their IoT devices from cyberattacks:

  • Carefully vetting and choosing well-known and reliable IoT device providers.
  • Installing the latest security patches and software updates to protect against software vulnerabilities.
  • Changing the default passwords for the devices and using multi-factor authentication.
  • Real-time monitoring of the devices to detect any malicious activity and deploying red teaming tools to initiate real-life cyber attacks for preparedness.

Sophisticated Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks have become the preferred choice of many cybercriminals. Why ransomware? It is because ransomware attacks are easy to carry out and cause devastating damages. This method of targeting businesses is expected to continue in 2021. As per a report, it is predicted that there will be a ransomware attack on businesses every eleven seconds by 2021. Misconfigured assets such as databases, open ports, etc. are often targeted for ransomware attacks.

Given the likelihood of your business falling victim to a ransomware attack, it’s critical to have a robust cybersecurity strategy in place against ransomware.

Some ways to reduce the risk of becoming a ransomware victim are:

  • Not clicking and opening untrusted emails, links, and attachments.
  • Visiting and downloading items only from trusted websites and sources.
  • Using a VPN when connected to a public Wi-Fi.
  • Not sharing login credentials with anyone.
  • Continuously audit and detect misconfigured assets to improve security.

Increasing Cybercriminals/ Cyber Activites

Cybercriminals are brilliant at what they do, including avoiding being detected and evading authorities. As per a report, the likelihood of a cybercriminal being prosecuted was lower than one percent in the United States. The alarming number can be even lesser in other countries. Catching cybercriminals is a sophisticated task. It involves seamless coordination between the hacked enterprise and government agencies.

Additionally, the way cybercriminals operate, too, has changed drastically. Earlier, they operated as lone wolves. However, now they work as a gang, making it even more challenging to monitor and catch them.

Governments and law enforcement agencies worldwide have realized the alarming growth and the consequences of cyber gangs and factions. Various measures, laws, and policies are being created in pursuing cyber criminals and bringing them to justice.

The Death Of Perimeter-Based Security

Perimeter-based security was dying, and the digital shift to remote working proved to be the final nail in the coffin. Cloud computing, mobility, and the Internet of Things have drastically changed the way we carry out business operations. This has led to the perimeter-based security approach becoming obsolete. Firewalls, white and blacklisting techniques, intrusion detection systems worked fine before the digital shift happened. There were few entry points for user access and limited data to manage.

However, the perimeter-based approach is no longer capable of protecting against sophisticated cyberattacks. It is a concern that most organizations still take a perimeter-based approach to security. Such organizations face a steep task in ensuring that their data is protected against cyberattacks. They need to shift to a robust cybersecurity model that encompasses advanced techniques such as:

  • Zero Trust solutions for cloud protection and cloud posture security management can be implemented to defend/protect from such attacks.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict cyberattacks before they happen.
  • Increased data visibility to provide businesses control over every bit of data.
  • Automated, continuous real-time monitoring for advanced protection.
  • Adopting a data-based and endpoint-user-based security approach instead of a perimeter-based one.

Attacks Due to Cryptocurrency Exchanges

The rise of cryptocurrencies has also exposed a sinister use case of digital currency. Cybercriminals are using it for money laundering, financial scams, and as a method of ransom payment. Cryptocurrencies are fully decentralized. This means that there is no central authority to monitor cryptocurrency transactions. Similarly, the regulations revolving around them are still sublime. These factors make them a preferred payment method for cybercriminals as they can buy, sell, or carry out transactions without ever being discovered.

Take a look at the recent 2020 Twitter account hack. Cybercriminals managed to hack into profiles of influential personalities like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Barack Obama. Then, they posted misleading tweets offering users two thousand dollars for every thousand dollars sent to a Bitcoin address. Before the situation could be controlled, they made over a hundred thousand dollars.

For businesses, the bigger concerns will include ransomware attacks on their critical/sensitive data which gets encrypted for ransom. Cryptocurrency exchanges through unsecured platforms can lead to the leak of valuable data. To protect against such cyberattacks, businesses need to implement strong crypto-security protocols and practices.

5G Vulnerabilities

Software vulnerabilities can be stated as a weak point in the software code or in its operating system. Some flaws in the software code might not get easily detected through manual reviews leaving it easily accessible for cyber attackers to exploit the vulnerabilities.

Some of the common software vulnerabilities include SQL injection, broken access control, uncontrolled format string, sensitive data exposure, etc.

5G has been a hot topic in the last year and is being aggressively rolled out in the US and many parts of the world. Software technologies play a major role in the success of the 5G implementation and therefore, powerful software security must have the most important consideration. While 5G promises high speed, low latency, and other benefits, it also gives cybercriminals opportunities to carry out cyberattacks by taking advantage of the vulnerabilities present in the software. 5G uses a large number of cell towers that cybercriminals can easily target. Similarly, the rise in the number of interconnected, 5G devices increases the surface attack area to infiltrate into the organization.

Network providers and businesses will need to carefully plan security measures to ensure that the vulnerabilities aren’t exploited. A new redefined cybersecurity strategy solely focusing on securing 5G networks and de

vices need to be developed. The government, too, needs to closely monitor the developments and create stringent policies regarding data security as we move towards a more connected, 5G future.

It’s Not Only Enterprise PCs Who Are At Risk

Remote working, cloud computing, and IoT devices have increased the potential target devices for cybercriminals. Additionally, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy has further increased the risk of business-sensitive data being compromised. Thus, no longer are your organization’s PC/laptops the only devices that businesses need to care about.

Enterprises face a tremendous challenge in ensuring data and device security for various devices being used for business purposes, including employee smartphones. They will have to adopt advanced security measures to protect their data on every device or server it resides on.

IAM (Identity Access Management) tools need to be implemented to define user access rights and data access control. Advanced red teaming techniques can facilitate this can help detect the vulnerabilities.


The last year was crucial, making us aware of the flaws and outdated approaches we had regarding cybersecurity. This year will be no different. As cyberattacks continue to happen, we will become aware of the inefficiencies we have in our cybersecurity approach. Like last year, we need to continue to adapt to the changes brought on by the pandemic. We need to take cybersecurity risks even more seriously by planning and preparing against cyberattacks. We also need to educate employees about cyber threats and cybersecurity practices.

Until cybersecurity becomes an integral part of the organization, cybersecurity threats will always loom, and you can fall victim to a cyberattack at any moment, resulting negatively in productivity, reputation, and financial losses. There are various options at your disposal, such as FireCompass’s continuous automated red teaming tools that can help identify weak spots in your cybersecurity measures before they are exploited by cybercriminals, helping improve your cyber protection.

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