The FBI reports that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of complaints about cyberattacks has increased by 400%. Interpol has confirmed this and is seeing an alarming number of attacks aimed at businesses, governments, and critical infrastructure.
It’s undeniable. Data breaches, phishing and ransomware attacks, and other digital threats became significantly more prevalent in 2020. This rise in cybercrime was brought on at least partially by the global disruption caused by the viral outbreak, and the vast number of employees who switched to working remotely.
Now, in 2021, businesses of all sizes are eager to enhance their IT security plans to protect themselves against a growing list of threats. When planning your own cybersecurity budget, there are several key areas to remember relating to security coverage, and preventing the potentially devastating consequences of online attacks.
According to an article in CNBC, cyberattacks cost small businesses in the US $200,000 per attack, on average. 43% of attacks take aim at small businesses, and more than half of American small businesses surveyed have experienced an attack within the last year.
A report on evolving cybersecurity priorities and plans by McKinsey highlighted the fact that there are several areas where businesses are increasing their spending in 2021. With that in mind, here are the essential areas you should focus your cybersecurity plans in the coming year.
The widespread adoption of mobile and IoT-connected devices has increased the number of endpoints a business can have. Many companies now have many types of endpoints that can be more challenging to track and keep safe, unless they have targeted endpoint management software to assist them.
Endpoint management programs such as Microsoft Intune simplify your mobile security needs by:
- Granting and revoking access to business apps
- Remotely locking and wiping devices
- Managing patches and updates automatically
- Monitoring devices’ access to your business’s resources
The nature of business networks has changed drastically over the past few months. Countless businesses have had to form remote teams of employees that work from home for their own safety. Many of these companies plan to retain their remote workforce even after the pandemic has ceased. This means they’ll need secure extended networks for these staff members.
You need to cover network security in your 2021 cybersecurity budget, whether or not you have remote workers on board. Your network must be able to handle advanced and sophisticated threats, including zero-day attacks, fileless attacks, and AI-powered onslaughts that are becoming increasingly common. Consider installing a VPN to secure your remote team’s connections and upgrading to a next-generation firewall with the latest threat protection features.
CLOUD ACCESS SECURITY
The bulk of modern businesses have now moved onto the cloud. This has created a rise in credential and identity breaches as criminals bid to gain access to companies’ private assets. Studies show that over 96% of global organizations are concerned about their public cloud security.
Identity management is a key factor in proper cloud access security. This is achieved by using technologies like:
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
- Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) programs
- Multiple authentication factors, such as challenge questions pertaining to access-level data
- Geolocation-based advanced identity management protocols
MANAGED SECURITY SERVICES
Many companies are planning on expanding their managed security services budgets in an effort to halt malware infections and hacker breaches. This service involves having an IT specialist handle numerous areas of your technological framework.
Managed security services allow businesses to free up resources and hand over their cybersecurity protocols to a skilled third party. This can significantly lower the risk of costly security breaches and ensures all layers of security are automated and properly attended to.
Your provider should offer a wide range of security services, such as:
- Dedicated email services
- On-site VPN
- Network backups
- Remote and cloud-based backups
- Disaster recovery solutions.
WEB AND MESSAGING SECURITY
It’s absolutely crucial that your cybersecurity budget covers these two areas of your business’ operations. Nowadays, most phishing emails use malicious website links instead of file attachments to infect your networks with malware. Your employees may now perform most, if not all, of their tasks in cloud-based applications from their browsers.
Ensure you have a powerful Domain Name System (DNS) filter in place that can spot and block access to dangerous phishing sites. You need to ensure your staff are using secure and approved browsers, and that they frequently update to the newest versions of those programs. This will prevent criminals from exploiting unpatched browser security holes.
Your employees are probably using apps like WhatsApp, Signal, and Slack to communicate with their colleagues and managers. Alas, these platforms can leave your business open to attacks. WhatsApp in particular has been known to spread malware, viruses, and other potentially hazardous forms of spyware. Your cybersecurity budget needs to cover your business’ messaging habits and ensure staff is only using approved instant messaging apps with strict security protocols in place.
Cybersecurity attacks on small, medium, and large-scale businesses are on the rise. The upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in cybercriminal activities, and this trend is showing no signs of abating anytime soon.
You cannot predict when an attack on your company will take place, or how hackers may gain access to your confidential data. However, you can foster a culture of cybersecurity, taking as many precautions as possible to protect your enterprise, staff, and bottom lines.
Your 2021 cybersecurity budget needs to factor in all major elements of your IT infrastructure, from endpoint and network security to messaging, web usage, and managed security services. You can dramatically reduce your risk of attack and the subsequent financial impacts by devoting enough resources to keep the digital side of your business secure. At the end of the day, it’s better to be safe than sorry.