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Juniper Networks 2021 Predictions: Prioritizing Security to Better Protect the Enterprise

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

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

Prioritizing Security to Better Protect the Enterprise

By Laurence Pitt, global security strategy director at Juniper Networks

As organizations across the globe shifted to remote work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, threat actors found new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in enterprise networks throughout 2020. As we move into 2021, these actors will continue to target the organizations that fail to prioritize security as part of their business strategy. In the year ahead, we will see remote work provide cybercriminals with ample opportunities to exploit organizations, security budgets take a hit, and user data put at risk due to increased availability and accessibility.

Remote Work will Provide Abundant Opportunities for Cybercriminals

The 2020 pandemic exposed gaps in network security postures that no one could have foreseen. Unsecured home networks, use of BYOD (bring-your-own-device) and siloed operations made previously visible threats on corporate networks become invisible, hidden on home networks. Cybercriminals took advantage of this expanded attack surface to launch phishing, vishing and ransomware attacks. In a recent independent survey conducted on Juniper's behalf of a thousand CIOs and CISOs across nine countries*, 73 percent stated that "In light of the recent pandemic, my organization's network and security has sometimes struggled in terms of the added business demands that have been placed upon them".

With that sobering statistic in mind, life won't return to "normal" anytime soon, and the need for employees to work remotely will remain. Organizations need to pause and rethink how they approach security to support this new paradigm with a focus on increased visibility and faster response. Otherwise, cybercrime will continue to evolve and take advantage of remote working as the easiest point of entry into their network.

Security Budgets will Suffer in 2021

For several years now, cybersecurity has been one area where investment and budget growth are constant. The security team has positioned successfully with insights and future trends, and the business sees strength in security as both a regulatory need and a competitive advantage. However, in 2020 we saw a change: investment had to be brought forward to support remote working, and a rapid move into cloud-based software services, all driven by the pandemic. Now, 2021 may see reduced spending on security, and an increased need to demonstrate fast value from previous security investments. To prepare for this change, security teams need to think differently and leverage existing solutions more effectively, or deploy changes such as connecting to a secure DNS service, which would only carry minimal implementation costs.

Availability and Accessibility Puts Data at Risk

With more employees requiring access to more information, from more places, at all times, we're likely to see a spike in data breaches and exposures in 2021. Too often, the business need to provide data is prioritized over safeguarding information and restricting data access appropriately, meaning more databases of information are available for malicious actors to potentially access and exfiltrate.

Combined with the adoption of 5G, which enables both attacks and data theft to happen faster and more discretely, it is likely that 2021 will suffer from growth in data theft. To reduce the risk, organizations need to consider basic security best practice before making any access changes to business data:

  • Make sure that passwords are complex and regularly updated
  • Ensure that role-based access is implemented to restrict and control overall access
  • Heavily encrypt data, both at rest and in motion.

This combination will help to ensure that hackers end up with a useless batch of restricted data rather than sensitive business information, should they gain access.

*Research conducted by Vanson Bourne in June/July 2020, in France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK and the US. Respondents drawn from organizations of 1,000 employees or more.


About the Author

Laurence Pitt, global security strategy director at Juniper Networks

Laurence Pitt 

Laurence Pitt is Global Security Strategy Director at Juniper Networks. He joined Juniper in 2016 and is the security subject matter expert for the corporate marketing team. He has over twenty years of cyber security experience, having started out in systems design and moved through product management in areas from endpoint security to managed networks. In his role at Juniper, he articulates security clearly to business and across the business, creating and having conversations to provoke careful thought about process, policy and solutions. Security throughout the network is a key area where Juniper can help as business moves to the cloud and undertakes the challenge of digital transformation.

Published Wednesday, December 16, 2020 10:49 AM by David Marshall
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