Remote work is here to stay (and other cybersecurity predictions for the year ahead).
The cybersecurity industry and predictions go together like fall and football or champagne and the new year. But on the heels of an unprecedented year, where a viral outbreak changed the landscape of the global workforce practically overnight, portending what’s in store for the year ahead is even trickier than usual.
One thing the cybersecurity experts at Webroot agree on is that work from home is here to stay for 2021—or, at least, it won’t recede to pre-pandemic levels in even the medium-term. What is likely to change is how companies respond to their remote workforces. The security measures they take (or don’t), the educational opportunities they provide (or fail to provide) and their commitment to innovation (or lack thereof) will likely separate the winners from the losers in the year ahead.
Yes, cybersecurity for remote workforces will likely be a prevailing concern throughout 2021, even following positive news on the vaccine development front, according to Webroot experts. Another prevailing theme from the professionals here, when asked to make their annual predictions for the new year, is that a cybersecurity skills gap will continue to haunt businesses and pose opportunities for those looking to start their careers in the field or make the switch to it. As such, automation and the adoption of AI technologies will be critical to plugging the gap.
Read on for more details from leading engineers, security analysts and product specialists from around our organization for complete cybersecurity predictions for 2021. Take heart because, whatever happens, 2020 won’t be easily outdone. (Knock on wood.)
On Remote Workforces and the Problem of Personal Devices
David Dufour, VP of engineering, Carbonite + Webroot
In 2021, many businesses will continue to operate remotely as a result of the pandemic, and there must be an emphasis on training employees on security best practices, how to identify modern threats such as phishing, and where company data is being accessed and stored. Phishing is going to remain one of the most prominent ways to attack users and will become more sophisticated as it’s tailored to take advantage of work-from-home setups and distractions.
Grayson Milbourne, security intelligence director, Carbonite + Webroot
The biggest change for 2021 will be securing remote workforces and remote perimeters, which include home networks and home devices, particularly personal devices. These all add their own challenges. Home networks and their configurations are diverse. Many use out-of-date routers with insecure settings. Personal devices are often used for work and, as we saw in our 2020 Threat Report, are twice as likely as business devices to encounter infections. If not addressed, this could have a serious impact on businesses in the coming year.
Hal Lonas, CTO and SVP of SMB engineering, Carbonite + Webroot
We shouldn’t overlook the incredible societal and behavioral changes underway right now. These put all of us in new situations we’ve never encountered before. These new contexts create new opportunities for social engineering attacks like phishing and scare tactics to get us to open emails and click on fraudulent links.
Tyler Moffitt, senior security analyst, Carbonite + Webroot
It really doesn’t matter the company or the length of the work-from-home stint, one thing that’s constant is that professionals at home are using their personal devices and personal network. Securing the remote perimeter is going to be the biggest challenge for cybersecurity professionals now through 2021 because laptops issued to professional workforce are much more secure than personal devices.
Personal devices are twice as likely to be infected than business devices. Even more worrying, we saw with our new COVID-19 report that one-third of Americans will
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