Here are the top cybersecurity trends you’ll need to keep up with this year in order to fend off lurking hackers.
As technology advances, cybercrime becomes increasingly sophisticated. With each passing year, hackers are inflicting more damage on companies, government entities, and households. Experts predict that cybercrime will increase by 15 percent annually until 2025, when it will reach $10.5 trillion in associated costs. To prevent critical vulnerabilities in your organization, you must be aware of important cybersecurity trends we are likely to see in the near future, so you can take the necessary steps to prepare for them.
Here are the top trends we predict will shape cybersecurity measures in 2022 and going forward.
1. Passwordless authentication will replace password-dependent options
Increasingly, enterprises around the world are transitioning into a passwordless digital landscape. Gartner has noted an influx of clients inquiring about passwordless alternatives and has placed Passwordless Authentication at the center of their Impact Radar for 2022 — as a top technology trend for this year. With 579 passwords compromised every second, it becomes clear that these “secret” codes may not be so secret after all, and may do more harm than good.
Passwordless authentication involves the interaction between public and private keys unique to each user, providing a highly secure and convenient way of accessing protected databases, applications, and web-based accounts. Whether through fingerprint biometrics, tokens, or one-time codes, passwordless methods allow users to forgo the tedious task of setting, remembering, and rotating complex passwords — all while minimizing the risk of costly breaches resulting from leaked credentials.
For many companies, it can be difficult to conceive of a future that renders legacy solutions obsolete, particularly when that future involves significant financial investment. However, the past decade has proven that one thing companies can count on is technology advancing leaps and bounds in short periods of time — a trend that has put many organizations out of business when they fail to be proactive. Companies that take predictions seriously, on the other hand, are able to adapt as necessary and will find themselves leading their respective markets.
Take the music industry as an example. Not so many years ago, vinyl was the primary medium for music distribution; then it was cassette tapes. Shortly after that, CDs. Now, streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music are how the majority of people around the world listen to their favorite artists. Cybersecurity will see a similarly radical evolution in the near future as more organizations adopt passwordless, and businesses that take action sooner rather than later will see significant ROI.
2. OT security will become a greater priority
Operational technology (OT) is becoming a part of the global IoT infrastructure — that means your business will need to safeguard it like any other aspect of your IT framework. Modern operational technology has become automated, responsive, and smart. Maintenance engineers no longer have to be on-site to troubleshoot an issue and can access OT equipment remotely. This IT OT convergence, while incredibly useful, poses another opportunity for cybercriminals and a significant vulnerability for corporations working with OT equipment.
Cyberattacks on OT systems are intended to inflict damage on a company’s product, services, and people by controlling the operational capabilities of an entire plant or site — which is what one group of hackers tried to achieve in 2017. The Triton/Trisis cyberattack targeted a Saudi Arabian oil company and initial intrusions went unnoticed for months. It wasn’t detected until the plant’s safety system automatically triggered a plant-wide shutdown in response to suspicious attempts to change configuration settings. If it weren’t for the existing security protocol, the attack could have escalated to a hydrogen sulfide leak or even an explosion.
Consequently, experts advise that legacy machines be upgraded to accommodate monitoring software that will help quickly detect anomalies coming from malicious actors. Taking the time to flesh out an exhaustive OT security plan will create a fort that will make it harder for cybercriminals to infiltrate, buying you time to respond before the situation escalates.
Learn more about securing the critical access management lifecycle in OT here.
3. Commitment to defensive cybersecurity will increase
Cybercriminals can not only shut down a business — they can shut down an entire nation. With many governments relying on multi-vendor supply chains, data needs to be carefully monitored, limited, and controlled between businesses to avoid creating back alleyways hackers can enter through.
Zero Trust Architecture has been championed by IT professionals for its cautionary approach. It requires continual verification for users both inside and outside of a network, to fortify a business’ defensive measures. According to Stanford University and Tessian, 85 percent of data breaches can be traced to internal human error due to stress, burnout, time limitations, or lack of proper cybersecurity training.
The Biden Administration amended its executive order on cybersecurity early last year to enforce stricter adherence to the zero trust protocol in businesses across the country. As the increasing threat of cyber warfare looms, both private and public entities are expected to follow baseline requirements — this includes application-level multi-factor authentication (MFA), just-in-time access, device-level user authorization processes, enterprise device inventory management, and encrypted DNS requests, to name a few. But both federal officials and businesses acknowledge that this may take a while to fully actualize. According to Osterman Research, around 65 percent of organizations believe it will take them at least two years until zero trust becomes standard practice for their business.
Nonetheless, recent attacks have urged federal agencies to observe and act upon cybercrime with amplified diligence. Last year, a group of hackers remotely accessed a private network through a compromised password, connecting them to the inner workings of one of the leading fuel providers in the U.S.; Colonial Pipeline Co. At the time of the incident, the company didn’t use MFA or a passwordless alternative, which made it easier for the hackers to enter confidential accounts. The ordeal ultimately cost the business $4.4 million in ransom.
Just the year before, software giant SolarWinds fell victim to a breach that trickled down to 18,000 of its customers, including the Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft, Deloitte, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and other high-profile organizations. In this case, a group of cybercriminals infiltrated SolarWinds’ database and installed malware in their system. The malicious code was then unknowingly shared with consumers through a software update, allowing the hackers to spy on them under the radar.
Current global tensions exacerbated by the war in Ukraine have sparked fears of debilitating nationwide cyberattacks — but it’s also boosted a form of collaboration between the federal and private sectors that was once widely contested. When the Obama Administration tried to get cybersecurity firms to work in conjunction with federal security agencies, plans fell flat when accusations of government intrusion bubbled to the surface. Now that cyberattacks are affecting both sectors with more veracity, officials realize that there’s no other choice but to work together to prevent a digital meltdown.
4. Email security will be optimized
According to Tessian, 96 percent of phishing attempts start with an email, and at least one employee falls for them in over 85 percent of companies. So why do businesses still rely on email for internal and external communication? Much like legacy machines, many businesses aren’t willing to overhaul an inexpensive solution for an expensive and unfamiliar alternative that will take time to introduce and train employees on.
However, email scams are still booming, partly due to ongoing political strife and COVID-induced work-from-home environments. As of 2021, phishing scams hit employee mailboxes at a rate of 14 emails annually. As a result, tech experts insist that companies start encrypting emails and classifying them according to their nature of confidentiality.
Not all data is created equal, and it is crucial that organizations implement email security measures that reflect the importance and confidentiality of individual email threads. Classifying emails also provides an organized approach to email management whereby business leaders can track and identify information, and manage it according to its degree of sensitivity. This is especially important as hackers are getting more creative with how they structure and word emails. For instance, Symantec’s 2019 Internet Security Threat Report states that a majority of scam emails resemble urgent notifications, invoices, or receipts from well-known businesses. As it becomes more difficult to distinguish fraudulent emails from genuine ones, it’s vital that businesses implement a system that can achieve this with the utmost accuracy.
Outsmart Cybercriminals with SSH
In the world of technology, it’s always time for a security refresh. Passwordless and just-in-time methods are set to become common practices across all industries. Assuming that a cybercriminal is constantly trying to infiltrate your systems and adopting an enterprise-wide zero trust outlook will also fortify your existing cybersecurity network and reduce the risk of a breach resulting from human error. And with federal enforcement and support, cybersecurity is set to remain a national priority for the years to come. At SSH, we’ll help make it your priority too. To learn how to stay ahead of these trends, contact us today.
Currently employed by SSH.COM as Product Marketing Manager, Jani is a mixed-marketing artist with a strong background in operator and cybersecurity businesses. His career path of translator->-tech writer -> marketer allows him to draw inspiration from different sources and gives him a unique perspective on all types...