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Cybersecurity in the Next Normal: What Firms Should Understand

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The new normal landscape created by the Covid-19 outbreak has generated a surge of sophisticated cyber attacks, including targeted ransomware. According to a new report by Canalys, while companies are spending record sums on cybersecurity, yet the number of successful attacks is higher than ever.

Canalys’ report noted that “more records were compromised in just 12 months than in the previous 15 years combined.” These are being driven in particular by ransomware attacks that have become more severe, in some cases disrupting hospitals. These attacks have also caused some companies to shut down and others to put emergency response plans in place to avoid being shuttered. And what’s worth noting is that this carnage is happening despite the fact that cybersecurity investment grew 10% in 2020 to $53 billion.

In view of this, Canalys believes that companies are still under-investing in cybersecurity. During the pandemic, other areas of IT grew faster, signaling that enterprises were placing an emphasis on services that would help them remain stable during the pandemic or even grow rather than protect their infrastructure from attack.

“Prioritize cybersecurity and invest in broadening protection, detection and response measures or face disaster,” said Canalys Chief Analyst Matthew Ball. This is the stark reality facing organizations in 2021, he said.

The data breach crisis escalated last year, as more records were compromised in just 12 months than in the previous 15 years combined. Ransomware attacks surged with tragic consequences, as hospitals were specifically targeted. Several high-profile organizations went out of business in 2020 and surviving organizations had to implement business continuity measures quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic or face ruin. This was often at the expense of cybersecurity and bypassed longstanding corporate policies, leaving many exposed to exploitation by highly organized and sophisticated threat actors, as well as other more opportunistic hackers.

Data breaches 2020

Canalys notes that Cybersecurity investment outperformed other segments of the IT industry in 2020, growing 10% to US$53 billion. However, business continuity and workforce productivity took precedence over security during the pandemic.

According to Canalys estimates, cloud infrastructure services grew 33% in 2020 to US$142 billion, representing an increase of US$45 billion in annual spend against 2019. Cloud software services increased more than 20% during the same period. Zoom’s reported revenue jumped over 300%, while Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce maintained strong double-digit growth.

Compared to the 10% growth in cybersecurity spending, cloud infrastructure services grew 33% in 2020, cloud software services rose 20%, notebook PC shipments jumped 17%, Logitech’s webcam sales increased 138%, and wi-fi router sales surged 40%.

Indeed, some enterprises may have increased their vulnerability by responding to the pandemic in ways that ignored their safety policies. But the real culprit may simply have been failing to make security a top priority.

“Cybersecurity must be front and center of digital plans, otherwise there will be a mass extinction of organizations, which will threaten the post-COVID-19 economic recovery,” said Ball.

He concluded that a lapse in focus on cybersecurity is already having major repercussions, resulting in the escalation of the current data breach crisis and acceleration of ransomware attacks.”

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