The 4 Hardest Digital Security Challenges for Online Businesses in 2021

In 2021, maintaining digital security is one of the biggest challenges for online businesses. 

Over the past 12 months, cyberattacks on companies, government institutions, and individuals have proliferated, as countless aspects of personal and business life have shifted online.  

According to the UN, cybercrime has spiked by 600% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses that operate partially or fully online, in particular, have been the targets of attacks. 

As a consequence, many businesses have invested heavily in cybersecurity. Globally, spending increased by over 10% to 53 billion USD

Nonetheless, 2020 saw more data breaches than the previous 15 years combined. The reason for this is that as security measures improve, cyber safety challenges continue evolving in tandem. 

To help you face them, here are the four main digital security challenges that online businesses will have to face in 2021. 

Stepping Up Remote Work Security 

Remote work has become a fixture over the past 12 months. Despite its usefulness, it presents one of the greatest vulnerabilities for businesses whose teams operate partially or fully online. 

The reason for this is that you have much less direct control over team members’ environment and behavior when it comes to the devices and consumer-grade networks they use. 

In addition, having an online business also means that team members rarely see each other face to face. This increases the risk of social engineering. 

Staying Safe from Social Engineering

In social engineering, cybercriminals aim to convince your employees to do something, rather than directly attacking networks. 

Phishing mails are the classic example of this type of digital security challenge. 

Most online businesses will have seen a large variety of these messages. Some try to trick recipients into opening malware-laden attachments. Others seek to convince recipients to transfer company funds to ostensible supplier accounts. 

What makes social engineering one of the biggest digital security challenges in 2021, though, is that these classic attacks are still highly successful, and advanced versions supported by deepfakes are appearing on the scene. 

According to recent statistics, 98% of cyberattacks rely primarily on classic social engineering, and over 90% of all successful breaches can be traced back to it.

Simultaneously, cybercriminals increasingly use deepfake technology to AI-generate convincingly realistic audio and video messages targeting team members. 

Fighting Hands-On Ransomware 

Ransomware is one of the most pervasive cybersecurity threats in 2021. According to government statistics, 46% of small businesses have been targets of ransomware attacks. Out of those, 73% ended up paying some form of ransom. 

However, one of the most complex cybersecurity challenges this year are human-operated ransomware attacks. These are personally controlled by cybercriminals and specifically tailored to their (increasingly lucrative) targets, rather than coming in a pre-packaged scam email format. 

Criminals spend weeks or even months identifying a business’ defenses and gaining access to the system. This way, they can maximize the impact of their attack – for example by also gaining access to backup servers.  

Often, these “low and slow” or multi-stage attacks harness credentials stolen from team members and go unnoticed until it is too late.  

Lack of Cybersecurity Expertise 

In its Global Risk Report, the World Economic Forum lists a lack of digital security expertise as one of the gravest challenges for businesses. 

Currently, cybersecurity experts are thin on the ground. With millions of open positions, securing a professional for your team may be aspirational rather than a realistic option. 

A second major component of this challenge is a lack of awareness among regular team members when it comes to cybersecurity. 

This is partly due to a complete lack of digital security training, but also to a failure to keep team members updated on cybersecurity challenges. 

How to Meet 2021’s Digital Security Challenges 

The main question for businesses is how to best face these cybersecurity challenges in 2021. 

One increasingly popular strategy is to outsource digital security to managed security service providers (MSSPs). This way, you don’t have to dedicate resources to hiring in-demand full-time experts. 

Another investment that security experts consider essential is training. Team members need more awareness of cybersecurity issues to avoid falling for cybercriminals’ tactics. Such awareness can also motivate them to invest in personal digital security products, such as identity theft protection. This is a bonus for businesses who might otherwise suffer collateral damage.

Finally, companies increasingly opt for more comprehensive digital security packages. New offers on the market – such as Aura – unify technical aspects like VPN, antivirus, and WiFi security with data insurance and financial monitoring services. 

Ultimately, it is essential for online businesses to invest the time and energy to stay on top of digital security challenges in 2021. Only by being aware of the most recent threats will you be able to face them head-on. 

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