Abstract Digital concept showing an online network's cybersecurity optimization. Image: iStock/Getty Images
Cybersecurity is more crucial than ever in the work-from-home era. Image: iStock/Getty Images

What a year 2020 was! Not only was it tough on individuals and businesses’ finances, but it also brought with it an increased frequency of cyberattacks.

This is why leveraging cybersecurity best practices are more critical than ever. Usually, organizations stretch their budgets to fit and cover their operational and security needs, but unfortunately not 2021.

The pandemic raised the stakes by ensuring immediate transitioning to remote work, which requires more cybersecurity support.

As rugged as 2020 felt at times, 2021 shouldn’t be as wild as businesses settle into the next normal. For security personnel, this simply means effectively managing their processes, people, technology, and getting back to basics.

Modern-day businesses depend completely on confidential information and data – mostly managed by people. Here are some top priorities for businesses in 2021 to avoid extreme vulnerability and powerlessness against data breaches.

What Should be the Top Priorities in 2021?

Remote work is here to stay, which implies that as employees will be working outside of the corporate firewall or network, organizations need to enforce the necessary security standards and upgrades to prevent data breaches.

This is important as cybercriminals have amped up people-focused attacks since the start of the pandemic – and they’re only going to increase in sophistication and volume. The most effective and prevalent of them all are phishing attacks, which was especially true in 2020 as users are more likely to click on one and then enter their credentials.

It’s a new age where businesses use different Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms for their operations. Given that they are new, there will always be new blindspots and risks that come with them that employees, especially security teams and high ranking officials, might not be equipped to handle.

These are ways user-focused attacks can make businesses pay. Businesses should make sure all personnel, especially top management, IT, and IS professionals, are involved in the right training to prevent social engineering attacks from putting their business at risk of being breached or hacked.

Many businesses are trying to stay afloat by cutting costs in 2021 but must do so without allocating away funds for cybersecurity. Investments in security prevent breaches that can go on to scare customers away, subject your company to fines from regulatory bodies, and erode customer confidence.

Other businesses that just don’t have the time, funds or people to set up a top-notch cybersecurity strategy outsource the responsibility to capable partners.

This is especially crucial for companies that haven’t quite understood the workings of their new cloud and SaaS platforms. Although they offer lots of operational benefits, figuring out how they are used and the apps they interact with on their network is difficult.

A capable partner will help a business understand its IT and network, check for vulnerabilities and keep out cyberattacks. While it may seem like the worst days went out with the year 2020, it’s not the time to rest.

Security leaders and professionals must remain diligent in keeping out attacks and adapt to the current state of the world by taking advanced programs on cybersecurity to further develop their expertise.

People, Process and Technology

For every business, cybersecurity should be a proactive, always-on process that should call for a complete strategy involving the people, process and technologies.

These are three important factors that influence a digital risk strategy. They are known as the pillars of cybersecurity, and here’s how they impact risk identification and mitigation:

People

Every employee, from new to C-suite must understand how far-reaching and damaging the consequences of a cyberattack may be, and how it can erode trust in the workplace.

Companies must ensure a cyber-resilient culture in the workplace by intertwining security practices with regular business operations and constant training – not only relegating them to the IT department.

Process

What if there’s a cyberattack or security breach? While it’s impossible to eliminate these incidents in digital environments, a thorough recovery procedure is needed. Processes are available to guide into a routine behaviour and order of operation to follow even for simply setting passwords.

Cybersecurity is a process, not a hassle to prepare for an audit in a particular time or relaxing till the next occurrence. Iterative steps and incremental progress are the proper ways to secure the work environment.

Technology

There are a host of technologies that the IT department and security professionals can build processes around. They might include breach detection to notify of malware or hackers, behaviour analytics to monitor user transactions or behaviours, or authentication systems to confirm user credentials.

Technology can be layered to create fortified and secured security systems to make illegal access to private data difficult.

Change is the only constant, but then some truths are eternal. It’s safe to say that businesses that work to maintain their focus during and after these challenging times placed themselves in a good position to push through the difficulties and come back stronger than before.

The three pillars of cybersecurity – people, process and technology must work together to create a sturdy defense network.