The Necessity For Cybersecurity and Cyber Literacy In 2020
At this point of 2020, we’re all spending so much more time online with recent data from Zenith Optimedia showing that the global average for mobile internet use alone is set to increase to 155 minutes per day by 2021. With this sense of exponential growth set against current world events, it’s no surprise that this upwards trajectory will maintain if not accelerate with a huge proportion of people now working, studying, and socialising from their homes via the internet. Moreover, more people are shopping online and completing essential personal administration in such a way that virtually our entire lives are lived through sites and apps.
Now more than ever before we need to be looking at cybersecurity as a form of digital healthcare with high level passwords and anti-virus software no longer the baseline for protecting our data and privacy. Learning about trends in cybersecurity is an essential requirement for individual and collective protection with the Travelex hacking breach of late 2019 just one example of how disruptive incidents can be for professional organisations and customers alike. In this article, we’ll review the five key trends to be across for cybersecurity in the areas of regulations, systems and processes, data management, device safety, and authentication practices.
The cybersecurity trends you should know
Global Data Protection
A key trend over the last few years is the worldwide conversation around personal data security whether it’s from hackers or big tech companies themselves following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This major event that led to the misuse of millions of Facebook profiles’ data for political influence in the 2016 U.S. election. Not only did this scandal lead to masses of users deactivating their accounts, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared before a U.S. Senate hearing and the European Union (EU) fining the social media giant over one million euros. Following this, many countries and regions have scrambled to review legislation and restrictions around digital data and their citizen’s privacy while online.
A key global precedent is the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) designed to protect citizens of each member state. Another law similar to this is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) however though there’s no global standard as yet it’s thought likely there will be as it’s only a matter of time with personal data increasingly being treated as a precious commodity. Regardless of your location as a resident or a visitor, it’s worth ensuring you know relevant laws associated with technology and the internet. As Raphael Rodier says, “Privacy policies including GDPR and the CCPA have helped to establish increased transparency within the digital advertising industry, however, we’re still finding that many consumers simply do not understand how their data is collected and used.” Make sure you know your rights and have systems in place to protect your data wherever you are.
It’s not just robots streamlining processes, it’s also Artificial Intelligence (AI) that’s a leader in the space of intelligence-driven security. AI algorithms are specifically engineered to identify real-time threats as well as recognise patterns quickly and zone in preemptively on any risk areas. Data from Cylance Blackberry showed that it’s taken seriously in the industry with 75.2% of surveyed security professionals saying they intend to implement AI for their cybersecurity defence systems, 70.5% for malware prevention, and 68.6% to manage advanced threat prevention.
Overall, there’s strong evidence that the tech we see with AI and its related machine learning technologies has significant potential for use as a precaution as much as to resolve any breaches. In the long-term, if you introduce this form of cybersecurity to your systems, it will work to gather and analyse enough data to begin perceiving threats. The ultimate aim is to utilise this tech for predictions rather than as a purely reactive response to any cybersecurity threats. One organisation who deals in intelligence-driven security, Dimension Data says that AI, “will allow for the organisation’s overall cybersecurity posture to change dynamically in response to the changing threat landscape.”
In nearly every circumstance, if you’re working remotely you’re probably connected to your work’s digital systems via some form of high-level cloud services. The world’s number one business process app, Microsoft Office 365, has its own range of cloud options including OneDrive while on a personal level, whether it’s two of the other tech major players’ cloud services Google Drive or Apple iCloud, this is an essential area to prioritise data security and privacy. With cloud migration the expected norm for businesses and individuals, it’s no surprise that it’s a woefully neglected area of cybersecurity with evidence that around 29% of organisations have potential cloud account compromises.
Some of the biggest risk factors for cloud security include insider theft, customer misconfiguration, and even insider theft. While there’s some colloquial scepticism around the cloud, it’s taken seriously within the tech industry so much so that concerns around data loss and leakage were cited as the main concern of 64% of cybersecurity professionals. Further to this, an additional 62% say they have concerns around data confidentiality and data privacy as top cybersecurity priorities with cloud storage. In the future, cyber literacy around cloud storage is imperative in the same way we have safety precautions around confidential work information and our personal belongings. One professional, Peter Firstbrook says, “Public cloud is a secure and viable option for many organisations, but keeping it secure is a shared responsibility… Organisations must invest in security skills and governance tools that build the necessary knowledge base to keep up with the rapid pace of cloud development and innovation.” Think of it with the same principle as maintaining the privacy of your physical home: lock the door and secure your belongings.
Security with Hyperconnectivity
We now live in an age of the Internet of Things (IoT) with smart devices becoming more common and prevalent in our homes as well as workplaces. How much do you know about your smart devices and the security of a device connected to the internet? Further to this, what’s your strategy to protect your data and vulnerability points? Gartner projects that these devices will surpass 20.4 billion in circulation in 2020 and yet most of us haven’t considered the security implications of having these in your home or workplace.
A key risk with the IoT is that they’re not fully secure end-to-end plus many users don’t realise exactly how these devices functionally connect to the internet. Ryan Ayera writes on the topic, “The concept of intertwining multiple technologies and networks creates potential issues because technologies like wireless sensor networks, 5G and cloud computing, all have their own vulnerabilities and security requirements.” Significant potential threats to individuals and businesses using smart devices could include privacy leaks, hijacking, unsecured devices, and domestic targeting such as home intrusion. When you consider the wider scope of these devices, there’s potential for targets on everything from connected cars and smart homes through to smart cities and virtual assistants.
Next-Gen Authentication Technology
Did you know that more than 85% of hacks resulting from people using poor or easily compromised passwords? The use of passwords and personal identification numbers aren’t necessarily enough in 2020, with so many being compromised in a range of circumstances. The next era of security will be authentication technology using services and identification software. In terms of cybersecurity, this authentication tech is all about covering the security gaps that exist across multiple accounts.
There are many reasons why passwords are easily breached including that current tech provides hackers with means to overcome even high level ‘secure’ and complex passwords. When you combine this with users rarely changing their passwords, the issue is exacerbated and there is a widespread risk for multiple accounts experiencing a breach if you use the same passwords for lots of things. The emergence of biometric tech is a more secure alternative that is already seeing widespread use in the banking industry and some social services. With these safer options, users are identified through their unique physical characteristics or behaviours. Examples include facial, voice, and fingerprint recognition with these biometrics being pre-recorded and registered with a user. Overall, Forbes estimates that in 2020, there is already a 55% drop in the medium-risk case usage of passwords and tokens based on these recognition technologies. In the future it’s expected that multi-factor authentication for user verification will become more mainstream with independent credentials like a text code required to confirm your identity during access or for account requests.
Staying Safe And Secure Beyond 2020
The inherent necessity for users to stay safe and have good cyber literacy will only accelerate in the years ahead. Regardless of the strategies outlined here for keeping your identity, data and devices secure, you can’t be complacent as cyber adversaries become more ruthless and specific as technology evolves. Having set systems for password updates, logging out of computers, reading conditions of use, and understanding your privacy rights can make a huge difference to your privacy and data protection. Stay safe and stay informed, it’s all about making permanent habit shifts in all areas of your digital life.
Orla Forrest works as a marketing executive with Paradyn, providers of a complete range of telephony solutions for businesses in Ireland. She has been with the company since 2011 and frequently creates content related to IT topics such as VoIP, web security and managed services.