Top Software Security Threats for 2021 and How to Prevent Them

The Internet has been a net positive for global commerce. Every country has embraced it, and as a result, the world is now connected more than ever before. You can now do business or connect with anyone in the world seamlessly.

Having said that, technology comes at a cost. There are frequent reports of data breaches, malware activities, digital theft, and other security failures. The past few years in particular have seen a steep growth in cyber theft, with some of the biggest companies in the world becoming victims of cybercrime.

For instance, in 2013, Adobe reported that 3 million customer credit card records and more than 150 million user records were stolen, and Yahoo reported one of the biggest data breaches in 2014 when it announced that all of its 3 billion user accounts were compromised.

To help you safely conduct your business online, we're going to cover the biggest security threats for 2021 and how you can safeguard yourself from them.

Understanding Modern Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting an organization's data, network, and servers from any imminent threat like malicious attack, phishing, or hacking. Cybersecurity has become important due to a rapid rise in cases of digital attacks being faced by companies.

According to one estimate, cybercrimes are expected to inflict a total of $6 trillion in annual damages by 2021, and companies in every sector are vulnerable. According to another, there is a software attack every 39 seconds in the U.S. Many businesses and organizations are affected by it, and by extension their clients and customers suffer as well.

Risks of Insufficient Cybersecurity Preparation

  • It might result in huge financial, reputational, and data losses to your organization.
  • Your company could also be liable to pay regulatory fines if data regulations are breached.
  • Individual losses such as identity theft, wherein a hacker can obtain all your personal and financial information to make transactions or purchases in your name.

How Has Cybersecurity Changed in the Last Few Years?

Though cyber threats have significantly increased in the last few years, they have been in existence for a very long time. In fact, the first computer virus was detected in the early 1970s on ARPANET.

The tools to combat viruses have changed in the past decade. Initially, installing anti-virus software on a local device was the prime defense tool. Now, built-in tools and cloud platforms can easily detect a malicious attempt to invade your systems.

Similarly, a corporate virus attack used to result in the targeted company shutting down its networks and email servers. Today, however, with the use of robust networks and systems designed by cyber experts, you can strategically contain and manage everything when a virus is detected.

Modern Virus and Malware Prevention

Proactive authentication mechanisms were not prevalent a few years ago, but today every software company uses multi-factor authentication. Companies today use biometric identification, two-factor authentication, physical security, CCTV, password-protected files, and more. These security measures were unheard of up until the turn of this decade.

There has also been a widespread increase in data encryption at all levels, from software companies to government organizations. Modern devices today come with built-in disk encryption, and almost all IT-related websites have SSL layer protection by default. This secures your data even if the device or system is stolen.

The cybersecurity landscape is evolving rapidly with the proliferation of the latest technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning, internet of things, and robotics. Defense systems have generally emerged in reaction to evolving cyber threats, with a greater emphasis on prevention than response.

Looking ahead, here are our projections for the major security threats that you will need to keep in mind as we enter 2021.

Work from home

Due to the current pandemic, most software companies have asked their employees to work from home. WFH is slowly becoming a new normal, with many IT companies claiming that they will allow their employees to WFH permanently.

Although we support this approach, it can give cybercriminals increased opportunities to illegally gain access to your system. Companies are finding it difficult to implement the same level of security measures for WFH employees as they would within their premises.

For instance, hackers are known to send malicious emails to students and professionals working from home for the first time. These emails are not subject to the same security screening that IT departments implement on local networks.

A shortage of skills

3.5 million cybersecurity IT roles are estimated to go unfilled by 2021. Even today, there are a lot of software companies that have staff shortages in the cybersecurity department.

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Advanced hackers

Hackers have started using emerging technologies like artificial intelligence to mimic human behavior. To combat such attacks, companies will have to use advanced defense tools and upgrade their security measures.

Phishing e-mails

Attackers have been using this technique for a long time, and it's still common for employees to fall into the trap of clicking on malicious emails. Companies and employees have to be extremely cautious when opening emails from untrusted sources in order to prevent phishing.

Cloud Security

A number of software companies, including enterprise companies, have started migrating to the cloud for better storage and security. However, this is one aspect that will be on the radar of cybercriminals in 2021, specifically with respect to cloud hijacking.

Insider Attacks

According to a Verizon study, 34% of the reported cyberattacks in 2019 happened due to internal negligence. These employees were involved in data breaches either intentionally or unintentionally. Thus, software companies must brace for these internal loopholes in 2021.

Common Cybersecurity Practices That Are Now Obsolete

Along with emerging threats comes an obligation to review existing security protocols and assess whether they should be discontinued.

  • Downloading any software from its third-party sources or their APK extensions should be avoided. Instead, users should download them directly from the source or developer's website.
  • Organizations should not completely rely on outdated tools and conventional cybersecurity technologies like password-protected systems as they pose a major threat of data breach according to the Institute of Security Technology.
  • Your employees should not ignore or postpone software update notifications, as a number of updates come with enhanced security features. Hackers know your reluctance towards updating software and they specifically target this hesitation of yours.

How Do You Proactively Protect Your Organization from These Security Threats?

  • Instead of relying on basic anti-virus software or simple passwords, you must adopt multiple tools like software, firewalls, multi-factor authentication, and others in combination with each other.
  • Leverage the limitless potential of artificial intelligence as it helps to fight malicious attacks, data breaches, real-time phishing alerts, or reveal social engineering attempts in advance.
  • Software companies should ask remote employees to install antivirus software to detect any suspicious activity and raise a flag.
  • Educate your employees by inviting cyber experts for a session on how to prevent cybercrime. Cyber experts will inform the employees about the dos and don'ts in the fight against these invisible criminals.
  • Companies should think about purchasing cyber-insurance to hedge their financial risk against any such cybercrime. Cyber-insurance is a special type of insurance that insures companies from a possible data breach, ransomware, DDoS, and other such cyber-crimes.

Best Practices for Cybersecurity in 2021

  • Use Extended Detection and Response (XDR). This is a combination of multiple security products gathered into a single platform. It offers comprehensive coverage against modern security threats.
  • Include cybersecurity as a high-level goal for 2021 by implementing a cybersecurity policy with specific details, best practices, and regular trainings for your employees.
  • Classify your data based on its importance and add a security layer to it. High-value assets containing important data should have increased security.
  • Software companies should start hiring cyber professionals to create a specialized team of cybersecurity. They should be responsible for data backup, data retrieval, and other security initiatives.

Key Security Considerations for Software Developers

  • IT companies should vet the applications that they are using, including (but not limited to) the source of the application, functions they perform, ownership, and privacy details.
  • Organizations should follow a secure software development lifecycle that addresses security issues at every stage.
  • The applications present in your inventory must have an owner with access and accountability for the same. Your policies should be defined as having data classification and security hierarchy based on their importance.
  • Companies need a proper backup, storage, and maintenance process in place to ensure that they can recover data in the event of a breach.
  • Developers should ensure the security of data during transmission within internal and external networks to maintain data integrity. Data encryption is a key priority when transmitting sensitive data.

Crowdbotics can provide you with professional cybersecurity development and has served clients in a wide range of highly regulated industries such as healthcare, finance, and defense. Additionally, the Crowdbotics App Builder offers secure development by default by generating auditable code that can be reviewed by security teams in production.

If you're looking for secure development from vetted domain experts, get in touch with Crowdbotics today.

Originally published:

October 22, 2020