10 Cyber Security Trends to Look for in 2021

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Three cyber security professionals are gathered around a computer monitor to analyze a potential network vulnerability.The FBI’s 2019 Internet Crime Report stated that cyber crimes cost American businesses and individuals about $3.5 billion a year. As more businesses migrate to the cloud and remote work, cyber security strategies need to be prioritized to protect data and assets.

Professionals with an advanced degree in cyber security can assist organizations in mitigating cyber attacks. These individuals possess the knowledge and technical skill to develop strategies to protect organizations from becoming victims of cyber crimes. By familiarizing themselves with emerging cyber security trends, they can better mitigate the possibility of future cyber attacks.      

Three Areas Impacted by Cyber Security Trends

Cyber security professionals use their technological expertise to secure vulnerable software and hardware systems. They closely monitor computer networks to ensure that any vulnerabilities are addressed, developing antivirus software and erecting firewalls to mitigate risk.

These professionals also audit an organization’s technological systems to ensure that they remain up to date. If a system crashes due to a cyber attack, they analyze the system to identify vulnerabilities and quickly make the necessary changes to protect against future threats.

They ensure that their organization’s workflows don’t become compromised. Cyber security professionals may create cyber security protocols and guidelines that employees must follow to prevent cyber attacks.

Cyber Security Specializations

Those who choose a cyber security career can specialize in a variety of areas, including autonomous systems, data security, or behavioral and human factors.

Autonomous Systems

Professionals with specialized knowledge of autonomous systems protect vulnerable assets. Autonomous systems rely heavily on the internet to access information, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks. For example, a cyber criminal can hack an autonomous car and then rewrite the code to make the car steer into oncoming traffic or pedestrians. Individuals in this area of concentration understand these systems and their vulnerability to security threats.

Data Security

Organizations rely heavily on professionals who have in-depth knowledge of data security and understand the various methods for protecting vulnerable data systems. Some methods they implement are encryption, backups and multifactor authentication. They’re also familiar with various intrusion detection techniques and programming languages such as SQL.

Behavioral and Human Factors

Cyber security professionals who specialize in this area of concentration understand psychology and the motives that drive cyber criminals to stage attacks. These professionals mitigate cyber threats by outsmarting and staying one step ahead of hackers. They also develop strategies to protect proprietary data from threats originating from inside the organization by implementing methods such as Zero Trust security.

10 Cyber Security Trends in 2021

Cyber security professionals know that cyber threats continually evolve in conjunction with technological advancements. Cyber criminals are always learning methods and developing strategies to attack vulnerable systems. For this reason, cyber security professionals must stay on top of emerging cyber security trends.

1. Cloud Threats

Due in part to the transition to remote work, many organizations have chosen to house their data in the cloud. In response, cyber criminals have found various ways to exploit this transition. Cloud security is emerging as a major concern for many organizations. Cyber security professionals will be tasked with enhancing cyber security systems to mitigate cloud breaches.

2. AI Integration

Smaller organizations that lack a cyber security team can implement artificial intelligence (AI) integration strategies. AI can be programmed to analyze vast amounts of data to identify potential threats. However, cyber criminals can use the same technology to identify vulnerabilities in an organization’s technological infrastructure.

3. Remote Work

Some organizations have recently been challenged by the transition to remote work. In many cases, remote workers use their own computers and Wi-Fi to perform their jobs, making them more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Cyber security professionals can work with organizations to develop cyber security strategies to prevent cyber attacks by using endpoint security systems.

4. IoT Security

The development of 5G will bring about a tenfold increase in the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The interconnectedness among devices increases the likelihood of cyber attacks due to the lack of security infrastructure and visibility among devices.

5. Automation

Cyber security professionals implement automation to streamline business and information technology (IT) operations. These professionals understand the various automation tools — robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (ML) and AI — that can be used to protect proprietary data and vulnerable systems.

6. Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)

Organizations are beginning to move away from virtual private networks (VPNs) toward ZTNA, which provides enhanced security by requiring individuals to log in with multifactor authentication. According to Gartner’s recent study “Zero Trust Architecture and Solutions,” by 2023 about 60% of organizations will primarily begin to rely on ZTNA compared to a previous reliance on VPNs. ZTNA prevents insider threats by limiting employee access to only the data required to perform their work.

7. Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are particularly nefarious, because they trick individuals into providing personal information that can be used to access private data. In many cases, phishing attacks use email to deceive individuals into downloading attachments or clicking links that require personal information.

8. Ransomware Attacks

Cyber criminals wage ransomware attacks to breach an organization’s proprietary data stored in databases and/or servers. The financial motivation for these attacks is to get the ransom victims to pay before the cyber criminals release control over the databases and/or servers.

9. 5G

This next-generation technology has advanced how organizations and individuals can share data. Theoretically, 5G can transfer data at speeds of 10 Gbps, according to How-To Geek. Various sectors — health care, defense, telecommunications — use 5G technology, making it even more important that these sectors are protected from distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber attacks.

10. Extended Detection and Response (XDR)

XDR enables cyber security professionals to clearly view customer and organizational data across various areas, including endpoints, servers, email and networks. This visibility allows professionals to identify potential threats and provides insight into how to mitigate these threats.

Cyber Security Skills Needed to Mitigate Threats

To effectively mitigate cyber attacks, cyber security professionals must familiarize themselves with the emerging cyber security trends impacting both the private and public sectors. These professionals must also hone various skills (analytical thinking, critical thinking and technical skills) and exhibit various soft skills (leadership and communication) to help prevent and defend against cyber attacks.

  • Analytical and critical thinking. Cyber security professionals think critically, analyzing the data at hand before making informed decisions. They can implement this skill to develop various strategies to prevent potential security threats based upon observed vulnerabilities found in an organization’s technological infrastructure.
  • Technical skills. Cyber security professionals possess the expertise to resolve technical issues using their knowledge of various database management systems, cloud computing and software engineering systems.
  • Leadership and communication. Cyber security professionals tasked with leading a cyber security team must be effective communicators to ensure that their team works as a unit to mitigate cyber security attacks. They must also effectively communicate with executives to help them understand the negative consequences of cyber attacks on businesses.

Discover How Cyber Security Professionals Protect Organizations from Cyber Security Threats

Professionals attracted to the role of helping organizations prevent cyber criminals from attacking their technological infrastructure can consider an advanced degree in cyber security.

The University of North Dakota’s online Master of Science in Cyber Security can equip prospective students with the knowledge and skill set to become effective leaders in the field of cyber security.

Professionals interested in advancing their cyber security careers can choose from four concentrations in the advanced degree program: Autonomous Systems Cyber Security, Cyber Security and Behavior, Data Security and General Cyber Security.

Discover how the University of North Dakota’s online Master of Science in Cyber Security can prepare you for an exciting, fast-paced career in the field. The online program can help prospective professionals learn how to identify and mitigate future cyber security threats.


Recommended Readings

Cyber Security and the Entertainment Industry

The Cyber Security Talent Shortage

What Is Vulnerability Analysis? Exploring an Important Cyber Security Concept


Cybersecurity Insiders, Cybersecurity Trends to Keep Track of in 2021

Dice, CISO Stress Increasing with Cyber Security Threats

Dice, Cybersecurity in 2021: 5 Trends Security Pros Need to Know

ESET, The Human Element of Cybersecurity

FBI, 2019 Internet Crime Report

Field Engineer, Cyber Security Specialist

FierceHealthcare, “From Weaponized AI to Threats Against the Vaccine Rollout, Here Are 6 Cybersecurity Trends to Watch in 2021”

Fintech News, The 2020 Cybersecurity Stats You Need to Know

Gartner, Zero Trust Architecture and Solutions

How-To Geek, “What Is 5G, and How Fast Will It Be?”

IFSEC Global, “4 Cyber Security Trends Set to Influence Remote Work in 2021”

Security, Human Error Poses Cybersecurity Challenges for 80% of Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Security Boulevard, “The Top 10 Security Trends to Watch Out for in 2021”

Security Boulevard, “2021 Cybersecurity Trends: The Emergence of the Personalized Attack Chain”

SecurityScorecard, “6 Cybersecurity Trends & Predictions for 2021”

StealthLabs, “Top 10 Cybersecurity Trends in 2021 and Beyond!”

The Future of Things, “Cybersecurity Trends and Predictions for 2021”