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AT&T Cybersecurity 2021 Predictions: Enterprises need to rethink security strategies to prepare for the threat landscape of 2021

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

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

Enterprises need to rethink security strategies to prepare for the threat landscape of 2021

By Team Members at AT&T Cybersecurity

Globally, COVID-19 has forced businesses of all sizes and types to quickly pivot to remote work and accelerate their digital transformation journey.

With these changes in the workforce, came an increased attack surface for security threats and vulnerabilities. As we saw over the course of 2020, the pandemic has caused an increase in cybercrime from hobbyist hackers, hacktivists, well-organized cyber adversaries, and more, amplifying the need for  companies to focus on security and in some cases, rethink their security strategies.

As we embark on 2021 and a fresh start to a new year, there are several key learnings that will help us prepare and navigate the security landscape. Here are the top 2021 predictions from the security experts at AT&T Cybersecurity.

Theresa Lanowitz, Director, AT&T Cybersecurity

Theresa Lanowitz 

When it comes to cybersecurity predictions for 2021, we will see next year that everything old is new again. With the advent of 5G, we will see a new ecosystem emerge. In addition to 5G, this new ecosystem will include new hardware and new software, including applications that are optimized for 5G. The new ecosystem will precipitate two significant shifts in how organizations view cybersecurity. The first shift will be toward a shared responsibility model for 5G and the security of attached network devices, applications, and data between business organizations and their service providers. 5G is more secure than any previous network generation. Yet, expanded attack surfaces mean opportunity for new threats as well as proliferation of unpatched existing threats.... In our annual AT&T Cybersecurity InsightsTM Report, we found that 56% of respondents believe that 5G may require a change to their security approach to accommodate network changes. With 5G, a shared responsibility model, similar to that of the public cloud, is likely to emerge. This should enable enterprises to shift certain functions to carriers and ultimately heighten enterprise security.

The second shift in how organizations view cybersecurity is through the lens of software applications. The eventual use cases for applications optimized for a 5G network are virtually endless. We often think about smart cities, remote surgery, and wearable devices. What is necessary to make these ideas a reality? Applications. The applications making these ideas a reality are no longer limited to back office business applications, these are now mission critical and in some cases life critical applications. The software behind these applications must function properly, perform fast enough, and be highly secure. Cyber adversaries will attempt to target these new applications through un-remediated vulnerabilities. Focusing on non-functional requirements, which includes security, is something organizations should be focused on. Disciplined software engineering practices should include security from the beginning.

Bindu Sundaresan, Director, AT&T Cybersecurity

Bindu Sundaresan 

Security and integrity are differentiators in today's market. In a digital world where the attack surface is rapidly expanding and pushing the edges of the network into new territories, enterprises must rethink cybersecurity strategies to remain competitive within their market. A recent AT&T Cybersecurity InsightsTM Report found that when engaging security service providers, vulnerability testing (62%), security training (51%), and breach and attack simulation (46%) are top of mind factors to consider. In addition, the breadth of devices and data involved, the number of applications residing in the cloud combined with the amount of data crisscrossing on-premise and cloud systems, as well as the ability to employ advanced threat intelligence technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, are transforming how enterprises think about cybersecurity.

Tom Hegel, Security Researcher at Alien Labs, AT&T Cybersecurity

Tom Hegel 

Even if your business plans to return to the office in 2021, companies should make long-term cybersecurity plans for supporting a remote workforce. As we saw in 2020, the shift to a remote workforce introduced new cyber risks and vulnerabilities. As part of security considerations for 2021, threat detection and response capabilities need to take into account  defending against ransomware. The number one concern for 2021 is the increase of ransomware and extortion-centric intrusions.


Published Friday, January 22, 2021 7:42 AM by David Marshall
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