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Untangle 2021 Predictions: What to Expect in SMB Cybersecurity in 2021

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

What to Expect in SMB Cybersecurity in 2021

By Heather Paunet, Sr. VP of Product Management at Untangle 

As a never-before-seen year comes and goes, many of us are looking forward to 2021 as a fresh start in every aspect of our life. In terms of cybersecurity, we like to speculate every year, trying to predict what will happen, but who would have predicted any of the issues we ran into in March 2020 as COVID-19 pushed everyone into a remote setting?

As many SMBs continue to expand into the cloud due to continued work-from-home settings, here are just a few key areas businesses and organizations can focus on as they enter 2021:

Next Generation VPN

VPN usage has been integral during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing employees the ability to safely connect to corporate networks regardless of location. This technology was foundational as businesses worked to safely transition their workforce from the office to a fully remote workforce without compromising business operations or creating vulnerabilities that could lead to data breaches. Now, as the dust has settled, many businesses and organizations are able to reassess their VPN solutions and adjust based on feedback or issues that may have come to light during this time. 

VPN connectivity will remain a cornerstone in network security for SMBs and its remote workforce. Being able to control how remote employees connect to the corporate network, while also extending security policies to these devices, will continue to keep the potential risk of a cyber attack to a minimum. In addition to providing a secure private network, VPN solutions have extended bandwidth and traffic shaping policies from the network gateway to each connected device, making business-critical applications work fast and seamlessly over standard home networks. 

Businesses are redefining their in-office/remote-working policies, and reliance on VPN solutions to support these new policies can only keep the technology moving forward. With more VPN solutions, like WireGuard VPN, including remote VPN solutions, employees can stay connected even if only 4G or LTE connections are available, making it easier to keep the corporate network secure, regardless of connected device.

Continued Employee Cyber Training & Awareness 

As we saw with the RSAC 2020 Conference, themed the Human Element, continuing to train and educate employees about cybersecurity threats and tactics is imperative. Employees should understand the network access they have, and the deep ripple effect it would have on company and customer data if they were to suffer a malware attack. They should be able to identify suspicious emails, thwarting any phishing attempts being made by hackers,  trained in proper password hygiene, and the benefits of enabling two-factor authentication when it's available. 


One of the latest technologies to increase ROI for small businesses is software-defined networking (SD-WAN). SD-WAN is able to help small businesses navigate the complexity of network management, improve internet connectivity, optimize bandwidth, and enhance network visibility. In 2021, small businesses will continue the trend in SD-WAN deployment to meet their growing business needs and make their networks more powerful. 

According to a recent survey, 48% of SMBs operate in more than two locations, making SD-WAN an ideal technology for them. SD-WAN allows small businesses who are using bandwidth intensive applications, such as Voice over IP tools, Zoom, Salesforce, or other cloud-based applications to optimize lower-cost internet or broadband so that it's not necessary to spend more on upgrading the internet at every location. 

Additionally, one of the biggest incentives of deploying SD-WAN technology is in connecting branch offices to centralize network management. With SD-WAN implementation across smaller businesses, it allows for the ability to centrally manage and push policies in near real time to all office locations providing consistent business and employee productivity.

Overall, small businesses have transitioned to meet the moment during this pandemic and all the challenges of 2020. As we move forward into 2021, they will continue to adopt new technologies, streamline their business operations, and create a more effective workforce, regardless of their location. . This does not change the fact that small businesses will also continue to be targets for cybercriminals looking to exploit unsure employees, unsecured access points, and devices who "forget" to secure their connection to the corporate network. To combat this, SMBs will need to increase their network security awareness in 2021, continue to deploy multi-layered network security solutions, and begin to consider reducing their technology investment timelines to take advantage of better solutions now instead of the future. 


About the Author

heather paunet 

Heather Paunet is responsible for building the right products for customers, taking into account customer needs and market trends. She has over 15 years' experience driving the development and go-to-market of software solutions. Prior to joining Untangle, she held product leadership roles at Cisco Systems, and was Vice President of Product at various high-tech security and networking companies in the Silicon Valley. She has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and spent the first few years of her career as a software engineer.

Published Thursday, November 26, 2020 7:37 AM by David Marshall
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