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You might have already downed this shocking stat in our last blog—Cybersecurity attacks catapulted by 400% in 2020 already. And security experts don’t see the threats or ransomware attacks slowing down in 2021 either. With Cybercriminals reigning in record profits via substantial ransoms this year they are likely only more emboldened and positioned to get more aggressive in their attacks.

Unfortunately, in 2021 attacks are expected to wreak more havoc on businesses and IT teams globally. Cyber terrorist groups are only becoming more organized in targeting their campaigns and ransomware tools are accessible and easy to deploy.

Cybersecurity threatsIn fact, according to DarkReading.com, many from the security community are anticipating a strong increase in ransomware attacks with the threat of data exposure. Meaning that regulatory and compliance risks will loom large for potential victim organizations.

And, organizations that are ready to pay to bring their systems back online risk being sanctioned by the U.S. government over—let’s face it—legitimate concerns that ransom funds are fueling criminal entities on official U.S. sanction lists.

“As long as extortion payments continue to be made and cybercriminals continue to profit, targeted ransomware attacks that enlist the pay-or-get-breached method will likely continue well into and beyond 2021.”

Kacey Clark, Researcher, Digital Shadows

But there’s good news, building a robust security strategy can dramatically decrease the chances your organization will come under attack. If you’re needing a quick refresher, you can find our Ransomware Survival Guide, right here.

Now, let’s go deeper with some smart new strategies that can help you mitigate risks through the current disruption to keep your business secure, productive, and competitive:

1. Recalibrate security operations.

The mass exodus from office to new normal has obviously put tremendous pressure on already busy security operation centers (SOCs). Now with the connected workforce having a big moment, security operations are one of the largest pandemic challenges for any business. (Here’s how to build your business pandemic-preparedness plan.)

Moving forward into 2021, (and beyond), security operations groups have a new mandate—defining, architecting, and implementing infrastructure that’s built for hybrid environments and a large, connected workforce.

Not having everyone in the SOC (Security Operations Center) made a lot of teams realize pretty quickly that their defenses weren’t working at full capacity and that’s a major problem for CIOs.

“SOC managers with immature processes learned that when the SOC team is not mostly in the same room, nothing worked as well. As the new heart of cloud-based SecOps solution sets, next-gen SIEMs are SaaS-bassed, offer built-in activity and behavioral analytics, and offer flat-fee-based data ingestion supporting multiple public clouds, as well as traditional on-premise and network data sources.”

– John Pescatore, Emerging Security Trends Director, The SANS Institute

For smaller businesses without an official SOC in place, finding the right managed services provider can be a game-changer to build a more robust, intelligent infrastructure to arm your organization against current and future Cyberattacks.

2. Re-educate your workforce on risks.

One thing hasn’t changed in 2020. Security is still a common concern for any business taking its workforce remote. Case in point, in 2018, 86% of business leaders already had the same question about team members working remotely, how can we protect their data and our business assets?

Your employees are still your greatest asset and your largest vulnerability point when it comes to Cybersecurity threats (spear-phishing and ransomware attacks). And of course, that risk has only increased with teams going remote.

In addition to the basics—regular security and compliance trainings, simulated phishing campaigns, and keeping an active, company-wide dialogue buzzing around Cybersecurity threats and suspicious activity—there’s some “new normal” ground to cover if you haven’t already.

First, run a manual virtual security training explaining the latest threats and countering them with basics like VPN, Single-Sign-On (SSO), and how to report suspicious emails or texts to your IT team. Because we know that Spam filters aren’t stopping everything and spear-phishing messages have a 5-6x higher open rate than most real emails. A heart-stopping 70% of employees fall for them, a number that’s only increasing with more team members in isolation.

Remote user trainingsUse a post-training Cyberattack simulation to measure your workforce and their progress.

Cyberattacks and social engineering are powerful tools because too many employees aren’t on guard or aware of the importance of data security—even more than usual when they’re dealing with stressors outside of work. It’s absolutely critical to educate your team members on how you are securing them and the business and on the role they play.

Build or finetune your Cybersecurity policy for remote workers—guiding them through the why’s and the important details and requirements before requiring them to review and sign. Every last employee or outside contractor using your systems needs to be included.  your teams through the high-level details before sending the strategy out to all employees to review and sign.

Keeping reinforcing your security policy and its importance on a quarterly basis via email and on all-hands meetings. It’s easy to get lost in tech talk on a Teams call, so, include why compliance is critical. Always, always, always hone in on the why for maximum compliance and engagement.

3. Secure SaaS applications.

Cybercriminals know that the enterprise and other businesses are moving workloads and data to the cloud in a mass exodus from the traditional data center. This started in recent years with more organizations looking to harness greater agility for a competitive edge, and only increased in 2020 with businesses needing to quickly support a remote workforce for the health of their employees and their business operations.

So, it isn’t a shocker that SaaS environments have become a big, red target for bad actors. Cybercriminals know that IT teams are even more burdened than business-as-usual with management of SaaS applications and their organization’s cloud strategy and footprint, and they see that as a powerful vulnerability to exploit.

Tools for scanning APIs between applications to automate SaaS configuration while monitoring user access and activity and changes in the environment are becoming more important every day.

“The shift to the cloud, unfortunately, has not gone unnoticed by hackers and bad actors. As organizations play catch-up, attackers are shifting their strategy to leverage the lack of SaaS expertise and necessary tooling to monitor and keep attackers at bay.”

– Brendan O’Connor, CEO, AppOmni

If your IT team is struggling to maintain the day-to-day with the recent onslaught of pandemic-triggered changes to operations then you aren’t alone.

According to a recent survey, 68% of IT professionals have less time to invest in SaaS application management and security.

That’s where having an extra layer of security expertise isn’t just helpful, it’s quickly becoming necessary. Partnering with a full solutions and services provider can reduce the pressure on your IT team while bolstering your business security so, you’re prepared for whatever comes next.

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