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OpenText 2021 Predictions: A look at Cybersecurity in 2021

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

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

A look at Cybersecurity in 2021

By Anthony Di Bello, Vice President of Strategic Development, OpenText

2020 has given us contentious political environments, a deepening economic crisis, and most notably a global pandemic. Disinformation has wreaked havoc in our ability to discern fact from truth, ransomware has delivered real-world consequences (, and insider leaks continue to expose privacy concerns despite increased adoption of privacy laws across the globe.

Given this, we have a heightened awareness to the relationships that exist across the cyber and physical worlds. We have a better understanding of how abuse of technology platforms, including everything from social media to facial recognition to big data analytics platforms, affect the world around us. This understanding shapes how we respond in 2021.

In 2021, every organization will face three challenges:

  • The need to verify information and certify credible sources
  • The need to secure borderless networks
  • The need for cloud resiliency

In response, expect next year to see a democratization of AI and Machine Learning (ML) technology, commercial technology focused on verifying facts and mitigating disinformation and the maturation of security architectures that support borderless networks.

Democratization of AI and Machine Learning Technology

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have increasingly taken on a negative connotation over the years, with rudimentary approaches being pitched as "next generation." Additionally, the industry has taken a black box approach to implementing machine learning algorithms and models into their product offerings. As a result, many security professionals are not able to fully understand how the solutions work or tune the systems without significant data science experience.

The first step toward the commodization of AI & ML technology will be to abstract the data science layer empowering subject matter experts to build, train, test and deploy new models. This will expand the use of the technology, lead to an increase in efficacy, and account for the unique nature of different organizations. This will be required for the broader adoption of the benefits of AI and ML have long promised.

Mitigating Disinformation

For any organization, false or misleading claims can incur a major impact on their bottom line. And, at scale, misinformation can sway public opinion. This has been driven by enormous disinformation campaigns being compounded by the voices that have been influenced by false or misleading messages. We are in a true dis- and mis-information crisis compounded by the speed of cyber.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of cybersecurity and digital forensic teams who have experience with this challenge. In 2021, expect to see early applications of autonomous fact-checking technology appearing across various platforms. There will be a growing number of applications for business systems designed to validate data from critical business processes as well as the obvious consumer applications within social media platforms. These capabilities, known as Information Assurance in the public sector, represent an emerging market segment and are critical to the success of AI, the promise of 5G, and the future of social media platforms.

Borderless Network Security

Before the pandemic, many companies were slowly migrating different workflows and systems to the cloud. However, the dramatic shift to remote work this year created more urgency around the move to the cloud. In fact, industry analyst Gartner estimates that cloud spending is estimated to rise 19% for the full year, even as IT spending as a whole is forecast to fall 8%.

Companies will need to continually reinforce their security posture for this extended period of remote working, as well as ensure any new technology being implemented is secure. Thus, 2021 will affectively be the jumping off point for the future of cybersecurity and cloud use for the next decade. According to an IDC report, by the end of 2021, 80% of enterprises will have made efforts to shift to a cloud-centric infrastructure with applications processing data twice as fast as before the pandemic.

Previously, businesses were working to adapt existing technology to borderless and disconnected environments, but in 2021 we are going to see a massive demand for cloud-native solutions. With this shift to the cloud, we will also see an increased adoption of SASE (Secure Access Service Edge), authentication and identity management, as well as other host, data, and user-centric approaches to security.

Since on-premise technologies will likely be upgraded or removed for cloud native and containerized solution, expect to see attackers en masse set their sights on breaking container-based architectures. These architectures including Kubernetes, are very likely to see their first major breach in 2021. Existing security vendors will be forced to adapt their technology to support these environments, and new start-ups will rise up focused on solving security challenges for the cloud.

Looking Ahead

2020 exposed gaps in our ability to trust information, initiated cloud migrations and placed greater strain on information security and digital forensic teams. Barring another unprecedented year, the implications of these  issues will mostly likely be front and center in 2021.


About the Author

Anthony Di Bello 

Anthony leads a team of market development directors driving OpenText strategic direction within information security, data discovery, legal, analytics and AI/ML software markets.

Published Friday, January 15, 2021 7:53 AM by David Marshall
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