User education, cloud security and XDR are critical for cybersecurity in 2021

Trend Micro Incorporated, the leader in cloud security, predicts that home networks, remote working software and cloud systems will be at the center of a new wave of attacks in 2021.

Trend Micro’s predictions report, Turning the Tide; forecasts that cybercriminals in 2021 will particularly look to home networks as a critical launch pad to compromising corporate IT and IoT networks.

“As we begin to enter a post-pandemic world; the trend for remote working is likely going to stick for many organizations. We predict more aggressive attacks to target corporate data and networks,” said Jon Clay, director of global threat communications for Trend Micro.

“Security teams will need to double down on user training, extended detection and response and adaptive access controls. This past year was all about surviving: now it’s time for businesses to thrive; with comprehensive cloud security as their foundation.”

The report warns that end users who regularly access sensitive data (e.g. HR professionals accessing employee data, sales managers working with sensitive customer information; or senior executives managing confidential company numbers) will be at greatest risk.

Attacks will likely exploit known vulnerabilities in online collaboration and productivity software soon after they are disclosed, rather than zero-days.

Access-as-a-service business models of cybercrime will also grow, targeting the home networks of high-value employees, corporate IT and IoT networks.

Distributed workforces

IT security teams will also need to overhaul work from home policies and protections to tackle the complexity of hybrid environments; where work and personal data comingle in a single machine. Zero-trust approaches will increasingly be favored to empower and secure distributed workforces.

“In the new paradigm of hybrid workplaces, it is evident that home networks across the Middle East and North Africa will be ravaged in 2021,” said Dr Moataz bin Ali, vice president, Trend Micro Middle East and North Africa.

“That is why holistic threat postures that encompass the cloud, end points, data, applications. People are also going to be critical in delivering comprehensive protection to the region’s enterprises.

“Trend Micro stands ready to empower organizations in their ongoing struggle against bad actors. To thrive next year, you need to innovate free from digital harassment. So, update your policies, train your people, and look to every nook and cranny of your infrastructure.”

As third-party integrations reign, Trend Micro also warned that exposed APIs will become a new preferred attack vector for cybercriminals; providing access to sensitive customer data, source code and back-end services.

Cloud systems are another area in which threats will continue to persist in 2021, from unwitting users, misconfigurations, and attackers; attempting to take over cloud servers to deploy malicious container images.

Mitigating-threats steps

Trend Micro recommends the following steps to mitigate threats in 2021:

  • Foster user education and training to extend corporate security best practices to the home; including advice against the use of personal devices
  • Maintain strict access controls for both corporate networks and the home office, including zero trust
  • Double down on best practice security and patch management programs
  • Augment threat detection with security expertise to protect cloud workloads, emails, endpoints, networks, and servers round-the-clock

Cybercriminals will also continue to go where the money is – seeking the greatest financial returns on their attacks. Organizations and security teams must remain nimble and vigilant to stay ahead of criminals.