It is hard to believe that another year is about to pass, and while not quite as unpredictable as last year, 2021 held a lot of its own trials and tribulations – especially for the tech sector. Ransomware has hugely increased this year – in fact, the UK has been ranked number 10 on the list of countries worst affected by ransomware in a new report commissioned by Google – and we are in the eye of the storm of the ‘Great Resignation’, which is hitting the cybersecurity industry hard.

Despite this however, the year has also had its wins. This year the UN declared 2021 the International Year of Peace and Trust, Kamala Harris became the first female and black Vice-President of the United States, and more than 7.5 billion Covid vaccinations (so far) had been administered.

So as we celebrate the winds, wind down, and bring the year to a close, what can we expect from 2022? Cybersecurity Magazine spoke with eight technology experts to find out what they predict for the next 12 months. Here is what they had to say:

Cybercrime continues to be a serious concern

It was not a surprise to find the continued increase in cybercrime top of the list for many experts. Tyler Farrar, CISO at Exabeam commented: “What do ransomware, phishing, advanced persistent threats and the like all have in common? Access. In the New Year, organisations should expect all of these attack methods to grow, but an all-too-important area to watch out for that often gets missed is initial access brokers.

“Initial access brokers are individuals or groups that resell credentials in the criminal marketplace. In turn, other adversaries can use the information to cause further damage for a company, often going undetected. According to a recent SANS Institute survey, 14% of organisations on average have indicated that the time between compromise of a network and detection of an adversary is between one to six months.

“Nation-state groups in particular will continue to take advantage of this information to conduct continued and persistent access attacks. Similar to trench digging in actual warfare, they will keep manufacturing exploits to launch a full-on cyberwar in the future.”

For Martin Rehak, CEO of Resistant AI, it’s more about a shift in perspective. He said: “In 2022, I expect fraud will finally stop being seen as a subset of financial crime, and start being treated as a form of cybercrime like ransomware and phishing.

“Fraudsters, or shall we call them more appropriately hackers, are operating systematically to find holes in the automation technology being deployed by financial services everywhere, and they are learning by iteration every bit as quickly as startups do. According to a report by LexisNexis, digital lenders in 2020 saw a 143% year-on-year increase in successful monthly fraud attempts, and there is no indication that trend is changing.”

“With each new year, it’s important for executives and board members to view their cybersecurity measures with fresh eyes”, said Danny Lopez, CEO at Glasswall. “Hackers will never rest when it comes to finding new angles to break into organisations’ critical systems. Once one problem is patched, they will just continue to poke and find new openings that will enable them to steal data or move laterally across the network. One way, this is expected to escalate over the next year is through the insurgence of bad actors and insider threats. According to IBM, 60% of organisations have more than 20 incidents of insider attacks a year and the cost related to these incidents was over $2.7 million. This means not only do companies need to be aware of exterior threats, but aware of internal vulnerabilities by implementing a zero trust approach.”

Getting back up and running – can you recover when the inevitable happens?

With an increase in cybercrime organisations must be able to protect themselves from what now seems to be an inevitability at some point – an attack. Many of our experts agreed.

For Ziv Kedem, CEO, Zerto, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, it’s that disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) will become a key necessity for many organisations and its adoption will skyrocket. He said “The rise in volume and severity of ransomware attacks and growing threats due to climate change, combined with the financial impact of downtime are driving organisations to take disaster recovery seriously.

“Most organisations are looking to offload capital expenditures and only pay for what they use. DRaaS, managed or unmanaged, allows companies to eliminate the costs and administrative overhead of managing and maintaining their own purchased secondary sites. Why refresh hardware every couple of years? Why allocate time, resources, and labour to something that doesn’t drive revenue? DRaaS brings organisations a rapid, efficient way to reduce costs and only pay for the applications that need protection.”

Richard Orange, Vice President, EMEA Sales at Digital Guardian, had a similar viewpoint. He explained: “A huge challenge for security and data loss prevention (DLP) teams right now is the exponential growth of data being created. According to Statista, 2021 will have seen an estimated 79 zettabytes consumed globally, up from 64.2 zettabytes in 2020, with projected growth of up to 180 zettabytes up to 2025.

“With so much data circulating, and more than half of security teams protecting upwards of 9,999 endpoints within their organisations (according to the latest DG DLP Trends Report), it can be a huge challenge for organisations to follow the traditional approach to DLP which is to classify, prioritise and ​​assign data protection resources to their most valuable data assets, as there is simply too much data to assess. With this in mind, modern and comprehensive tooling that understands the context of your data will be a key investment for organisations in their charge to correctly locate and identify sensitive data, as well as classify and determine how the data is handled.”

For Steve Cochran, CTO, ConnectWise, infosec will dominate our lives in the tech space for the foreseeable future. He said “Companies may think they’re protected, however, many of them are using slingshots to protect themselves while the bad guys have tanks, bombs, and machine guns. We have a long way to go as a technology-driven society in terms of cybersecurity. Getting ourselves to the point where we aren’t at risk of a serious attack will be our focus for the next two to three years. On the less serious side, tools that allow us to better engage in the new hybrid working model will become more prevalent. Solutions will be developed that will allow us to work in a more meaningful way during this new era. Tools that let us set up conferences, arrange food deliveries, and show who is in and out of the office will take centre-stage now that the majority of companies have introduced hybrid working models.”

Neil Jones, cybersecurity evangelist, Egnyte told us: “In 2022, I hope to see executives finally view cybersecurity as a wise investment rather than an optional budget line-item. Significant investment is required to stay one step ahead of cyber-attackers, and ongoing, company-wide cybersecurity training is required for employees in our ‘work from home’ world. Modern businesses can’t have effective data governance and security programs that consist of a single person, and historically, far too many companies have relied on the CISO’s or CPO’s efforts alone. Cybersecurity needs to be an all-hands company effort.

“In the new year, we will be seeing further distribution of risk management within companies and hope to see increased engagement from end-users and customers, so they can better understand what is happening at a security level. Any opportunity to educate individuals about security and privacy will be a step in the right direction as people are more drawn to being educated than being sold to. And, Just like travellers at a bus or a train station, ‘If end-users see something, they should say something.’”

AI and Machine Learning continue to be of interest

Sascha Giese, Head Geek™ at SolarWinds, had another thought in mind – he said: “The explosion in data available to public sector organisations has made the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) a critical advantage, but the talent and resources required to build solutions in-house is still prohibitive. Ultimately, a machine is faster than a human—or even a group of humans—which means shifting to AI/ML services also allows for cost savings, something that is vital across the sector. Yes, purchasing or subscribing to an AI service and integrating it doesn’t come cheap, but it’s still far more efficient than a team of 20 data analysts.

“In 2022, we’ll start to see AI and ML featured more prominently in organisations’ IT environments through the adoption of off-the-shelf AI/ML services. As organisations look to strengthen their security postures in response to the evolving threat landscape, for example, they may look for security tools leveraging AI/ML to perform tasks. Meanwhile, offerings from cloud service providers, like Amazon® SageMaker® or Google® TensorFlow™, will similarly see widespread growth by reducing the barrier to adoption and implementation for tech pros.”

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