Opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
The past year ended turbulently with the discovery of a serious vulnerability in Apache Log4j which can be exploited with minimal effort. It was also marked by the closure of the Colonial Pipeline due to a ransomware attack and the realization that the SolarWinds code was infected with malware that spread to thousands of customers and government agencies.
As bad as that sounds, it’s likely to get worse. The profitability of cybercrime continues to grow – as does the sophistication of the attackers, often sponsored by nations with significant resources – and the organizations that have the most to lose are often those that lack the resources or expertise to tackle it to protect themselves adequately, e.g. large corporations, governments and healthcare providers.
So what does 2022 hold in store for us in terms of cybersecurity, and what can we do to prepare for it?
Increased attack vectors
The proliferation of endpoints opens up new avenues of attack. Endpoints include anything that communicates back and forth on a network. Laptops, tablets, smartphones, and wearable devices are all vulnerable endpoints, along with IoT devices such as security cameras, connected home appliances, voice assistants, and many other devices that consumers and businesses may not consider vulnerable. What’s worse, many of them use the same hardware to enable connectivity, so a vulnerability could have far-reaching implications. We will likely see increasing attacks on IoT devices to gain access to networks, mine cryptocurrencies or steal data. According to the threat postFor example, the first six months of 2021 saw more than 100 percent growth in cyberattacks targeting IoT devices, and that rate will not increase until 2022.
Related: Protect your business by becoming a cybersecurity analyst
AI and machine learning systems are ripe to be both attacked and used to execute attacks. Many companies use these technologies to process massive amounts of data (the prime target of most hackers), and the same capabilities that power speech recognition, autonomous vehicles, and online shopping can massively scale automated cyberattacks.
We anticipate that attacks on AI systems, which could take the form of undermining physical assets (such as drones and self-driving vehicles), will have catastrophic consequences. There may also be increased use of such systems for political purposes, such as B. spreading misinformation, invading privacy or sowing discord.
Increased adoption of Zero Trust architectures
The days of “trust but verify” are over. In today’s distributed work and cloud computing environments, the network no longer ends at the office walls…it’s everywhere. “Zero Trust” refers to the practice of authenticating, authorizing, and continuously validating network users before granting them access to applications and data. Strong identity management, endpoint protection, encryption, and continuous monitoring form the foundation of a Zero Trust environment.
The pandemic opened up new avenues for malicious actors to access networks as employees quickly began working from home and IT departments struggled to expose network resources outside of office walls. Adopting a Zero Trust framework is one way, and there is no single solution, but organizations must act quickly to implement access control policies, authentication, and least-privilege environments that protect valuable data assets.
Related: How to protect your company from cyber attacks
Raising cybersecurity to the executive level
According to an October 2021 UncommonX report60% of midsize businesses said they had suffered a ransomware attack in the 18 months prior to release. The even more amazing finding was that even after these devastating attacks, 70% of these organizations had not prioritized cybersecurity and only 35% had conducted a risk assessment in the past year. In addition, many lacked a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or otherwise dedicated person responsible for security/cybersecurity, even though phishing and ransomware attempts had increased. As a result, IT shoulders most of the responsibility, although it may not be able to manage it effectively.
At its core, cybersecurity is a business decision as it involves assessing risk and investing in people and technology to mitigate that risk. For that reason alone, it should be elevated to the C-suite or board level as a strategic partner. Business leaders should value cybersecurity initiatives like any other investment – ask themselves whether an incident or breach is worth the risk to business operations, reputation and customer trust? Some organizations may be willing to accept these risks, but the decision should be made at the highest level and then supported with appropriate investment.
Protection against insider threats
The big layoff or “big layoff” of 2021 has highlighted the fact that workers are fundamentally reevaluating their jobs, their happiness and how they feel about employers. Departing employees can pose a high risk of an insider threat because they already have access to sensitive data such as customer lists, trade secrets, and financial information. They may also be more willing to sell that information if approached, or allow unauthorized access to the network or premises.
Related: Identify and stop rogue employees before they become a security threat
One of the best outcomes of 2021, such a challenging year, would be that more companies would prepare for the inevitable. Many may think that they are not interesting enough to be hacked or that their data is of no value to anyone. They don’t realize that today’s cybercriminals are very opportunistic: if data isn’t valuable enough to sell, it can be held for ransom because the company needs it to continue operations. With this in mind, every organization should develop robust prevention, detection and response plans.