In many ways, COVID-19 has completely shifted the tech world thanks to our increasingly online and digital lives. It has also been a difficult transition because while more companies shifted to working at home, cyber-attacks rose, remote work became disrupted and weakened security processes abounded. Although 2020 proved that we could not predict what will come next, based on what we experienced in 2020 — from the shift to working from home to new rules about how we meet and interact in public spaces — we do know that tech trends will be the driving force in managing the change. Below are some top tech trends to watch for in 2021.
SECURITY, SECURITY, SECURITY!
While many companies have now adapted to working remotely, it is essential to ensure that businesses continue to run efficiently. As the trend continues with employees working remotely, this means a company’s main concern should be securing their data while workers are remote.
• Make sure email security programs are in place
Email security is a term for describing different procedures and techniques for protecting email accounts, content and communication against unauthorized access, loss or compromise. Email is the No. 1 attack vector used to spread malware. It has now become commonplace for users to receive phishing and spearfishing attacks, daily. Any one of these emails can trick an unsuspecting employee to either compromise their login credentials, give company money to an attacker or spread malware or ransomware throughout the company. Standard email security is not enough. It is important to use advanced email security, such as artificial intelligence products, to ensure your company is protected as much as possible. Also, it is critical to make sure the company employees are educated about safe computing. It is estimated that 95 percent of all cyber attacks originate from the end-user. Employee education is vital.
• PROTECTING DEVICES
Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are set by companies to allow employees to use their personal smartphones, laptops and tablets for work. If your company does allow BOYD, device management software should be installed on their personal devices. If a company’s employees are working from home, the company network has been extended to the employee home network or other BYODs. Even though these machines may not connect directly to a company network by a VPN, any compromised home machines could potentially be a risk to the business. The risks come from exposed usernames and passwords to the company network through saved passwords in browsers or even key-logging software that may have been installed through malicious means. Make sure your employees are following the proper BYOD procedure. It is important to use management software for BYOD devices or company devices to ensure the devices used are protected. There are some other things to consider. What happens if an employee quits or needs to be terminated? How do you get your company equipment back? Even worse, how do you ensure that your company data is secure and removed from their personal or company device? Ensure anti-virus and anti-malware software is installed and updated. There are many products available to secure both the company data and end-user devices. Finally, make sure your company has a plan for this and that there are written policies in place governing the use, storage and recovery of company information and devices.
• CLOUD SERVICES
Cloud computing, or sometimes simply called “the cloud,” is a term many have heard. But what exactly is the cloud, and how does it relate to your business? Simply speaking, the cloud is a group of computers, usually housed in a data center that store information and software applications for businesses and consumers. Essentially, it’s like outsourcing the entire contents of your computer, giving you more speed, flexibility, resources and scalability. We believe this will continue to be an essential target for organizations looking for increased scalability, business continuity and cost-efficiency in 2021. There are some risks, however. Moving your data and resources to the cloud extends your risk to the cloud. It also expands the accessibility of your data to just about everywhere. So, it is just as important, if not more, to have policies and products in place to secure your data both in the cloud and on end-user devices. Finally, once your data or applications are in the cloud, it is not easy to move to another provider or move it back out of the cloud. There are various options on the market, and making the wrong decision can be costly, so it is important to make sure you choose the right option for your business.
• CYBER LIABILITY INSURANCE
For the many businesses working remotely and the risks associated with it, we foresee cyber liability insurance will be more popular in 2021. Cyber liability insurance covers financial losses that result from data breaches and other cyber events. Most cyber policies include both first-party and third-party coverages. It is best to think of it as protection if the unthinkable happens. Frankly, based upon statistics, it is not a matter of “IF” a company will have a cybersecurity incident. It is a matter of “WHEN.” No matter how much security is in place, you are never protected 100 percent. According to www.Inc.com, 60 percent of small business that suffers a cybersecurity attack fold within six months. Having the proper security in place ahead of time and having Cyber Liability Insurance can provide the resources to recover and not become a statistic.
As we begin to navigate a new year, these tips will give business owners a sense of protection that their information is safe as we move into 2021. Technology is always changing, and companies must be ahead of the curve to move forward efficiently and safely.
David Rounds is the CEO of NetEffect, a privately held, full-service provider of computer and information technology support and consulting services for businesses. Based in Las Vegas, NetEffect was founded in 2001. For more information, visit neteffect.com.