The Biggest 2021 Cybersecurity Predictions

Caleb Townsend
Staff Writer United States Cybersecurity Magazine

2020 saw a whole host of new cybersecurity threat vectors that no one could have foreseen. Covid-19 brought forth complications and cyber-attack opportunities previously unprecedented. 2021 will have its own set of both problems, as well as developments. However, in many ways, the issues of 2021 will be the fallout of 2020.

Here are predictions and trends on how the events of 2021 will unfold and affect those within the cybersecurity field.

Remote Workers Will Continue Suffer Breaches in 2021

As we have written before, any sort of remote work, from distance teaching to virtual telecommunication brings with it a variety of problems. Some of these new challenges include Zoom-specific phishing attacks and work devices weakening overall network security. However, the larger issue is an overall change in the attack vector. In 2021, we will continue to see remote workers be a target for cyber-attacks.

Though Covid-19 vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer report high efficacy rates and a predicted release by April 2021, remote working will be the norm for a while. A lot of organizations are still recovering financially and may continue to benefit from keeping employee hours on the lower end. Many employees/employers find themselves comfortable in their home office settings and don’t see an in-office transition as necessary. The remote workforce is also bolstered by a shift to cloud services.

However, these new attack vectors will be the primary focus of cybercriminals in 2021, largely because it has worked so far. The attacks have not only become more pervasive, but more effective as well. Working from home increases the risks of a company becoming a victim of a cyberattack, whether due to increased social engineering, a lack of proper security for personal devices, or simply the introduction of new cyberthreats that employees are unfamiliar with. 

Increased Breaches Due to Decreased Budgets

Part of the Covid-19 2021 fallout will be a projected increase in cyber attacks due to decreased company budgets. The effects of the novel coronavirus on the global economy have forced many companies to make hard decisions regarding where they spend their money. A Gartner press release projected that Global IT spending would decline by 8% as a direct result of the virus.

This trend is expected to continue in 2021 as many companies struggle to rally. Decreased budgets may tempt a lot of companies to cut corners regarding cybersecurity. This is of course exasperated by the new attack vectors regarding the remote workforce. However, a larger problem comes with the lack of investment in future technologies. We may need these technologies to keep up with the ever-shifting attack methodology employed by cyber-attackers and for the time being, they may go underfunded.

The Beginning of 5G Implementation Will be Slower Than you Think

5G isn’t going anywhere. Implemented in 2019, the new “network of the future” is going to continue to grow in 2021. However, according to GSMA’ The 5G Guide: A Reference For Operators, 5G is expected to cover almost 15% of the world by 2025.

The race to implement 5G is an endurance marathon, not a sprint. In September, the Washington Post published an article wherein they tested 5G phones. They found that download speeds weren’t, at this point, much faster than 4G LTE phones. In fact, in some areas around the country, 5G is slower. This is not due to a failure of 5G, but rather because the current early iterations of 5G have to choose between a quick speed or a wide reach. For the current time, 4G will coexist with 5G and will still be the predominant technology.

Conclusion

2021 is not going to be an easy year. Cybersecurity threats will continue to accelerate and change. We will still at large feel the effects of Covid-19. A slew of new technologies will prove to be challenging. It is important that we be aware of the risks we face. We must learn to adapt to the latest technologies while emphasizing cybersecurity. Organizations need to learn from this pandemic and draw lessons that can be kept in mind as we work on new cybersecurity models.