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Predictions 2021: COVID-19 Threats and Ransomware Continue to Take Center Stage

Predictions 2021: COVID-19 Threats and Ransomware Continue to Take Center Stage 

We have one big prediction for 2021: COVID-19 will continue to dominate the cybersecurity landscape as fallout from the pandemic causes wide-ranging disruption to our digital lives — at work and at home. 

Shelter-in-place orders and travel restrictions imposed in early 2020 forced Canadian organisations to quickly revamp their IT operations to provide remote access to employees, partners and customers. The move allowed them to stay in business, while also introducing new security threats. 

Here’s how we expect this to play out over the coming year as Canadians have adapted to remote everything — work, education, healthcare, etc.

COVID-19 vaccine research under threat from hackers

In 2020, there were attacks against Canadian vaccine research and development organisations. As we head towards the final phase in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Canadian government and health research community will need to stay vigilant in the coming months, as we expect to see an increase in attacks by hackers. 

IoT devices pose a security risk for homes and businesses 

As attackers look for ways to move laterally from home networks to corporate networks, they will look for soft targets among the rapidly growing number of devices in the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Voice assistants, smart TVs, smart watches, routers, baby monitors and other IoT devices typically come without security tools and run on software that is rarely or never updated. 

Public sector organizations will struggle against ransomware

Local governments and public sector organisations, such as schools and universities, will struggle more than ever to defend against ransomware capable of shutting down operations, as the economic impact of the pandemic cuts into technology and cybersecurity budgets. They’ll have increasing trouble attracting talented security professionals away from the private sector seen as offering better job security, higher pay and shorter hours.

Corporate networks shoring up vulnerabilities caused by shift to remote work

Organisations moved quickly in 2020 to enable their corporate networks to support unprecedented numbers of remote employees. Their initial focus was ensuring that everybody had the tools and bandwidth to do their jobs. Now they need to quickly identify any vulnerabilities or other unintended security threats that may have emerged after the rush to go remote. Hackers have already begun to seek out new weaknesses they can exploit to compromise corporate networks — whether it be failure to implement basic security safeguards or improperly configured cloud infrastructure.

Security teams to embrace automation to work smarter, not harder

Security teams will be spread thinner than ever as they’re called on to continue to protect legacy, in-house IT data centers, while also learning new tools and techniques for securing remote workers who are accessing data centers in the cloud. Enterprises will need to work smarter, using technologies such as automation to make their security teams more productive and prevent burnout.  

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