Skip to content

3 Cyber Security Trends Emerging in 2021

Technologies are evolving rapidly and opening many new doors as we head into 2021. The world is transforming before our eyes. With a constant eye toward the future, the Swiss Cyber Institute has combed through 3 cyber security trends for 2021. Here is what you and your organisation need to know about cyber security.

Intensified IoT attacks

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of smart devices to leverage data collected by embedded sensors and actuators in machines and other physical objects. IoT is anticipated to spread expeditiously over the following years and this convergence will unveil a new dimension of services that enhance the quality of life of consumers and productivity of businesses.

For consumers, the IoT holds the potential to produce solutions that immensely increase energy efficiency, security, health, education, and many other phases of daily life. For organisations, IoT can strengthen solutions that augment decision-making and productivity in manufacturing, agriculture and many other areas.

IoT security

Unfortunately, the majority of connected devices and systems are not built to manage security and privacy attacks and eventually, it increases a lot of security and privacy issues in the IoT networks such as confidentiality and data integrity. The security challenges regarding IoT can be classified into 2 groups: technological challenges and security challenges.

Technological challenges concern wireless technology, scalability, and the distributed nature of IoT, which arises due to the heterogeneous nature of smart devices. Security challenges, on the other hand, concern the principles and functionalities that must be enforced to accomplish a secure network. According to the Threat Intelligence Report (2018) by NETSCOUT, IoT devices were attacked within 5 minutes of being plugged into the internet and targeted by particular exploits within 24 hours.

IoT is a massive achievement indeed. It should be regarded as an indispensable part of the future internet as everything is going to be connected to a network, nonetheless, many IoT devices will continue to become soft targets in 2021. The expansion of the IoT market gives rise to several possible risks, which can influence productivity and the safety of the devices along with our privacy.

AI-powered defence systems against AI-based cyber attacks

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly growing field of technology with potentially notable implications for overall security. Although AI technologies extend huge benefits, they can be used maliciously. Cybercriminals are continually upgrading their attack strategy with special emphasis on the application of AI-led techniques in the attack process, which is called AI-based cyber attacks.

These attacks are usually used in combination with traditional attack techniques to generate surpassing damage. For example, AI might be able to personalise the phishing scheme thoroughly and increase the scale of the attack, making the attack more likely to succeed.

AI in cybersecurity

In cyber security, AI has been being used to boost defensive capabilities. Based upon its robust automation capacity, AI can be used to examine sheer amounts of data with efficiency, accuracy, and speed. An AI-powered defence system can take advantage of what it knows and perceive the past threats to recognise similar attacks in the future, even though their patterns vary.

Traditional technology relies profoundly on obvious attackers and attacks, being deficient when identifying unusual events in new attacks. Thus, the limitations of old defence technologies are now being addressed via AI-powered intelligent defence systems. Cyxtera’s vice president of research stated that “An average phishing attacker will bypass an AI-led detection system 0.3% of the time, but by using AI this intruder was able to circumvent the system >15% of the time.”

What’s more, AI-led systems can magnify network security by developing autonomous security systems to identify attacks and respond to breaches. Obviously, there are many areas where AI can help by extending the detection of abnormal activities.

More cyber attacks against healthcare industry after pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in extensive disruptions to the healthcare industry. Alongside complex issues relating to ensuring sufficient healthcare capacity and resourcing, hospitals and healthcare providers have faced increased cyber security threats in the midst of the pandemic. These cyber threats must serve as a reminder for organisations to comprehensively evaluate their information security posture during these times of uncertainty.

Over the past few months, many healthcare organisations have been vulnerable to cynical cyberattacks. According to the 2020 Cyber Threats Report by Netwrix, nearly a third of healthcare organisations encountered a ransomware attack during the pandemic’s early months.

It is predicted that smaller entities and those that have not invested adequately in cybersecurity can be particularly vulnerable to attacks. These vulnerabilities will only be intensified more with enhanced use of virtual care and connected devices during the pandemic like telemedicine or remote patient monitoring.

phishing attack statistics 2020

World Health Organisation defines telemedicine as the delivery of health care services by all health care professionals, using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information with the scope of diagnosis, prevention of disease and injury treatment. One of the cyber attacks in healthcare during the COVID-19 outbreak was the one against Spanish hospitals where ransomware attacks attempted to deactivate anti-virus software (Netwalker cyberattack).

Furthermore, biopharmaceutical, and research organisations, are going to be prime targets for cybercriminals in 2021. These areas are key targets usually for state-sponsored criminals who are looking to steal IP and other sensitive information.

Research institutes are also on the radar of criminals, mostly because they are smaller organizations with fewer resources to focus on cyber security. 2021 may be a tough year for the healthcare industry. Therefore, organisations must ensure that necessary measures are in place to reduce risk and disruption from cyber attacks.

Final thoughts on cyber security trends for 2021

Organisations had much to overcome in 2020. We know the chance of cyber security challenges continuing into 2021 is high. You should have heard that the mission of cyber security is never done. Therefore, we decided to compile 3 cyber security trends for 2021 and ensure that organisations remain vigilant about security along the way.