2020 was an unconventional year, a year of mass digital transformation, enforced remote working and a year in which organisations globally dealt with an array of new challenges. Securing a distributed workforce became paramount for businesses as COVID-19 rules forced people to work from home. This, coupled with parents struggling to balance work and home life, meant that video conference calls became the norm and the odd child screaming or dog barking became part and parcel of work meetings.
We all hope that 2021 will be a better year with past freedoms restored, but what can we expect to see from a technological point of view? Will organisations continue along the digital transformation journey that they embarked on? Or will the potential lifting of restrictions see the workforce return to the office and Zoom calls once more relegated back to the benches? Here is what the C8 team had to say….
Paula Elliott, Managing Director
I’ve been thinking about the challenges that a remote workforce brings as we all use our personal devices to review sensitive information and work. Through no fault of their own, employees that are working remotely open up an organisation to major vulnerabilities because their mobile devices are much easier for attackers to exploit. In 2021, I think we are going to see cybercriminals become more sophisticated in how they attack our mobile devices, If hackers can get into your Android or iPhone, they’ll then be able to enter your work network whether it’s deactivating VPNs or breaking down firewalls.
As a result, we will see companies roll out new mobile device policies and infrastructure to allow workers to continue operating remotely but with greater awareness of the risks these devices pose and how to protect themselves and the organisation. Additionally, a large part of these policies will centre around software updates and patches, ensuring that all personal devices are up to date in order to fend off attackers.
Michael Bartley, Deputy Managing Director
I feel surprisingly bullish about 2021. I know, this does seem to fly in the face of all conceivable logic when we look at the state the world is currently in. I appreciate that the continuation of remote working will result in an escalation of cybersecurity attacks and therefore successful breaches. I get it. Protecting the perimeter is infinitely more difficult when instead of having one forte to guard we now have hundreds of thousands. It’s true. Yet still I remain convinced that in 2021 things will improve. It is after all the year of the ox which donates the hard work, positivity and honesty that will be manifested in all of us in the coming 12 months. Fear not, I’m not going all cryptic on you, but what I’m trying to say is individuals and organisations have never been more aware of the need to have a proactive cybersecurity posture in order to combat the adversary. Moreover, leading vendors are sharing knowledge and information in a bid to keep us all safe. You could think of them almost as the Cyber Avengers. So, whilst there will undoubtedly be security challenges ahead, maybe 2021 will be the year that the cyber defenders fight back causing the adversary to scurry away and regroup. One can but hope!
Jim Pople, PR Director
This year we are expecting to see further cyber-attacks on the supply chain, and in general. Even though attacks are expected to increase, looking forward, we hope to see positive outcomes in other areas of tech. For instance, due to COVID-19 we will see innovative ideas being put into practice both in business and consumer-focussed sectors. An example of this is the COVID-19 Proximity app, which has been designed to allow safe social distancing, giving people the confidence to come into a live environment- be that a venue, theatre, sporting event or even a corporate event. This year I predict an increase in innovation of products and services focused on tackling new challenges brought about by COVID-19. Hopefully these innovations will provide the help needed to move business’ and consumers towards a safe ‘new normal’.
Kiri O’Leary, Senior Account Executive
Throughout 2020 cybercriminals capitalised on pandemic chaos and shifted their tactics to exploit the mobile workforce. With employees continuing to rely heavily on mobile devices during lockdown, attackers will likely shift their attention to mobile compromise, with devices and operating systems at risk.
With the lines between work and play becoming increasingly blurred, employees are continuing to utilise personal devices to review and share sensitive corporate information. These become a point of access for attackers; it’s no secret that mobile phones are an entryway for island hopping into corporate networks. As VMware Carbon Black’s Tom Kellermann stated, cybercriminals will also adopt new techniques: “We will see hackers using malware such as Shlayer to access iOS, ultimately turning Siri into their personal listening device to eavesdrop on sensitive business communications.”
Enterprises have been slow to secure mobile devices. As a result, Global research firm Analysys Mason predicts mobile device security will be the fastest-growing cyber-security category for IT spending, reaching almost USD13 billion by 2025. To combat these impending threats sooner rather than later, employees should be educated on the importance of digital distancing.”
Ellen Oliver, Senior Account Executive
Looking forward into 2021, it is predicted that ransomware attacks are set to increase in sophistication and frequency. Cyber criminals are now opting for a ‘double extortion’ attack, cold calling victims and sometimes even encrypting backups. For organisations, they will have to put extra measures in place to help prevent and prepare for if or when an attack takes place. Having read a recent report by Databarracks, the outright prevention of a ransomware attack is impossible. But organisations can help prevent these attacks taking place by learning and educating themselves on all the tactics deployed by these cyber criminals, as well as implementing reliable backups in case an attack does take place. These backups should be outside of an organisations network domain and copies should be kept in multiple locations or even on a separate cloud. An organisations Crisis Management Team should also be given the authority to make operational decisions to take their systems offline and then find out when the ransomware installation occurred in order to restore clean data before the infection. These two precautionary measures will enable organisations to successfully detect and respond to attacks to limit there reach, enabling them to bring their systems back online so the organisations can be back up and operating as quickly as possible again.
Jessica Kelliher, PR Executive
A lot of us have our hopes pinned on 2021, following a year of extensive working from home, the majority of businesses and individuals have relied on the cloud to try and continue operating as normal. A lot of businesses will have the vision of moving completely over to a private cloud in 2021, however businesses which store huge quantities of data will find complete cloud adoption is not something which can happen overnight, or even over months. This is why 2021 is predicted to be the year of ‘Hybrid- Cloud’. Businesses have already started adopting some uses of the cloud in 2020 and in the coming year they will migrate further. However, they will also continue to rely on on-premise data management centres as the process is so timely, with us not seeing a wide spread transition to cloud adoption until the end of 2021 or 2022.
Ameesha Patel, PR Executive
2021 is the year of the “green industrial revolution”. My prediction for 2021 is that there is going to be a huge surge in the adoption of climate change/ carbon emission strategies by businesses, especially as we see UK Brexit and Biden going into US office this year.
Consumer expectations around the use of green technologies have never been higher, as we see a ban on new petrol and diesel cars in the UK from 2030, with government financial support to help buy and invest in EVs, we expect to see a larger fleet of EVs to take the road in the coming years. As well as support in turning away from common forms of power (fossil fuels) we will also see a variety of forms of power (offshore wind, hydrogen, nuclear etc.) be used to help businesses aid a smoother transition towards getting carbon neutral.
I think there is a desire for constant innovations in the electric vehicle (EV) industry especially as consumer demand more transparency from businesses around their carbon emissions and require a need for more infrastructure to accommodate that consumer demand. The EV sector is set to grow 14X over the next decade.