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2022 Cybersecurity Trends: Top Ways to Prep for a Secure Digital Footprint

Today, it’s more important than ever to follow cybersecurity trends. Cybersecurity threats affect anybody working or preparing to enter the workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed almost all companies wishing to remain in business into remote work. Some believed these were temporary adjustments but many of the initial emergency changes are now permanent. 

With so many companies now working remotely, cybercriminals are eagerly looking for weak points in companies. Vigilance and education in cybersecurity are key. To help you stay in the know, we’re giving you eight cybersecurity trends for the upcoming year. 

Notable Security Breaches of 2021

Before you read our cybersecurity trends, here are just three of the most notable security breaches of this past year. 

Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn Breaches in January

A data leak through an unsecured database exposed the data of at least 214 million social media users of the three platforms. While the leaked data varied depending on platform, full names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, and even employment information were exposed. 

Experian Breaches in April

An independent research uncovered this data leak. Tens of millions of people’s information was vulnerable to cybercriminals, including names, dates of birth, and mailing addresses. 

T-Mobile Breaches in August

A lone 21-year-old perpetrated T-Mobile’s largest attack, which affected over 54 million people. Using weak spots within the company’s system to access over 100 servers. He was able to take data including social security numbers of current, former, and prospective customers. 

These are only three examples of cyber crimes. Events like these are occurring daily, worldwide, and with companies of all sizes. These examples should clarify why you should be paying attention to the cybersecurity trends listed below. 

Cybersecurity Trends: 1. Remote Work is Becoming the Norm

Even offices against remote work before the pandemic had to budge in order to keep their staff. The Great Resignation of 2021 is in part due to employees seeking to work for companies who offer better work-life balance. This includes the ability to work remotely at least part of the time. 

Now that companies are working at least hybrid schedules, they must protect against the dangers of employees working from anywhere. Companies need professional cybersecurity steps to ensure laptops are safe whether in the office, employees’ homes, or a coffee shop. According to Cisco, 97% of organizations made changes to their cybersecurity policies to support remote work. 

Beyond laptops, mobile phones are now a prime target for cybercriminals. People may be highly vigilant on their work computers, but they have a more casual approach on their phones. One slip-up is all it takes for employees to give up access to password keeper apps, emails, cloud services, and more. 

Takeaway: Companies need to take measures to protect employees outside the office building. 

Cybersecurity Trends: 2. Ransomware Attacks Continue to Increase

Ransomware is a problem cybersecurity experts have followed for years; and it’s occurring at unprecedented rates. In the first half of 2021 alone, ransomware attacks were up 151% over the first six months of the previous year. 

The increased activity is due in large part to the rise of cryptocurrency. Today, when cybercriminals use ransomware to hold companies hostage, they collect the ransom in Bitcoin or other form of cryptocurrency. The money is moved and quickly taken off the Blockchain. The entire transaction is untraceable. 

While engineers may be hard at work trying to find ways to remove ransomware without paying up, it’s still not possible in most cases. The average company has to pay up in order to regain control of their internal and public systems. The best way to protect against these attacks is by preventing them. 

Takeaway: Every company needs safeguards in place to protect against ransomware. 

Cybersecurity Trends: 3. Companies Continue to Move Data to the Cloud

There was a time when companies dedicated entire rooms to hold data in giant servers. Today, more companies are freeing up those rooms and moving their data to the cloud. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, 100 zettabytes of data will be on the cloud by 2025. 

Now that giant amounts of data are being sent and received between companies and their cloud services, further security steps must be taken to ensure the data is safe. Without any protection, private data can end up visible to the public. Worse, personal data about customers can end up in the hands of criminals. 

Takeaway: As companies move to the cloud, they must ensure safeguards are in place to protect their data. 

Cybersecurity Trends: 4. A Growing Need for Cybersecurity Experts

With increased attacks, flowing data, and roaming employees, it’s no surprise companies find there are simply not enough people in cybersecurity to handle everything. The Washington Post previously reported the nation had 465,000 open cybersecurity jobs

We tend to spend much of our time focused on cybersecurity tools that we forget to think about the human beings who use them and are ultimately in charge of keeping companies safe. Not only is there a shortage of professionals but the industry is in need of diversity. Women make up only 14% of the cyber workforce. In addition, only 6% of STEM workers are African American and 7% are Latinx.  

Takeaway: High schoolers still trying to figure out their career paths, along with professionals looking for a career change, should be encouraged to look into cybersecurity educational programs. 

Cybersecurity Trends: 5. Companies Recognize the Benefits of Zero-Trust Networks

Traditionally, networks were designed to connect a limited number of devices. Specific, known devices were deemed safe, or trusted, and were therefore free to travel through the network unimpeded. As companies and networks grew, more devices were granted the trusted label. This type of network, where devices are automatically accepted, gives cybercriminals direct access to everything within it so long as they find one weak entry point. 

In order to prevent network infections, the best thing to do is to keep all devices separate, even if they often access the network. This is the principle of Zero-Trust Security. In this network architecture, two things occur. First, rather than a company creating one giant network, it creates many smaller networks. Networks can be separated by department, function, or however each company sees fit. 

Second, devices within the small networks are not automatically trusted. Each time a device attempts to connect with the network, it must be authenticated. By design, zero-trust security refuses to automatically grant access based on the past or physical location. 

Takeaway: Companies will need to break up their large networks and switch to a zero-trust network infrastructure.

Cybersecurity Trends: 6. Companies Move Away from Passwords

We’ve become accustomed to choosing passwords that include upper and lower case letters, numerals, and one or two special characters. But even the strongest, browser-generated long passwords are not completely safe. Even Microsoft has already publicly advised its users to switch all their security entry points to multi-factor authentication (MFA). 

Multi-factor authentication consists of the initial step of entering your user name into the page you wish to access. This is the trigger to go to a second device to authenticate the request (usually a phone if you’re logging in at a desktop or laptop). On your phone, you access an authentication app to confirm identity or retrieve a temporary code to enter on the site you wish to access. Because you have to use multiple devices, and because the codes change so often, your access is more difficult to copy without permission. Microsoft’s research found accounts are 99% less likely to suffer a security breach when using MFA.  

Takeaway: Companies should enable multi-factor authentication on the applications they use now and consider other options for applications without MFA capabilities.

Cybersecurity Trends: 7. Increased Cybersecurity Training for All Personnel

It may be difficult to accept but many attackers gain access to a company’s infrastructure simply because one person makes a mistake. If small businesses have employees who don’t know to be on the lookout for phishing emails, how can we expect companies with hundreds of employees to not be vulnerable? 

Ongoing Training

The best way to correct this problem is to train diligently and train often. There are many ways to get everyone to understand the dangers and become intelligent about cybersecurity. Security personnel must institute strategies that teach in the different ways people learn. In addition to live discussions, provide videos with bits of security advice and newsletters for everyone to read. 

When it is time for live discussions, be inclusive. Everyone in the company should learn about the risks and consequences to their bottom line. We may think it’s common to avoid replying to suspicious emails and forward them to the cybersecurity team but if order-entry personnel rifles through hundreds of messages per day, the reminders can mean the difference between a good day and a terrible day. 

Social Engineering

Any ongoing cybersecurity training must include the dangers of social engineering: the practice in which cybercriminals trick users into willingly giving up the information they require. If a coworker’s personal account is hacked, you may receive an email from them telling you they need a file or a corporate credit card number they cannot access from their personal phone. 

Penetration Testing

In addition to ongoing training, another tool to use is penetration testing. Simply put, this is when companies simulate a cyber attack to identify access points. By doing so, companies can identify areas that require immediate attention from their security personnel but also create future lessons and materials for training.

Takeaway: Companies must adopt personnel cybersecurity training immediately. A failure to act could lead to one of their employees making a costly mistake. 

Cybersecurity Trends: 8. Weak Security of IoT Devices Gets Exploited

In case you need a refresher, IoT refers to the Internet of Things. It is the ability to add network capabilities to almost any electronic device consumers use. IoT is what enables us to turn on lights and control door locks from our phones. It’s why certain refrigerators may order milk when the weight of the gallon inside gets light. 

In the professional setting, this can make many things convenient but also create chaos when things go wrong. In October 2021, Facebook (now officially Meta) suffered a major outage that lasted almost the entire day. All Facebook applications crashed: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. What surprised many was when people inside their offices couldn’t enter conference rooms and those outside couldn’t enter campus at all. Because the doors to their campus were part of the Facebook network thanks to IoT, when the system crashed, those doors went down too. 

Takeaway: Every company embracing IoT for its convenience, must remember to include it in their security strategy or risk all their IoT devices becoming vulnerable access points. Special points of interest include the lack of permanent network access, inherently insecure methods of data transfer, and AI-based attacks. 

Wrap-Up of Cybersecurity Trends for 2022

With more data than ever living in the cloud, the walls of the office becoming a thing of the past, and so many devices getting access to networks, cybersecurity must be a top priority at every company. Companies that don’t prioritize cybersecurity are destined to face attacks and find themselves having to fix preventable problems. In addition to software needs, companies also need personnel fully capable of keeping companies and employees safe.

Edstutia will soon offer a cybersecurity full-time track along with job placement and apprenticeships with top companies for students looking to start a career in cybersecurity. If you’re looking for options less demanding on your schedule, we also offer modules and micromodules to begin your training. Our innovative VR programs create fully immersive class environments for students to learn and meet with others from the comfort of their own homes. 
Contact Edstutia for more information on our upcoming cybersecurity track and other exciting, in-demand modules on our fully virtual campus.

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