2020 and 2021 have proved challenging for businesses and the cybersecurity realm. The preceding pandemic permanently changed how companies operate, and cybercriminals adapted to these changes, introducing new tactics that outweighed the new realities. While these past years have witnessed unprecedented cyberattacks, there are no indications things will resume normalcy in 2022.
Cybersecurity campaigns and malicious actors became famous in 2021, as their actions went beyond target companies. The modern cyber threat landscape features bigger, higher-impact, and professionalized attacks looking to benefit fully from compromised companies.
Below are the top cybersecurity challenges facing most organizations in 2022.
1. Recognizing You Are a Target
Small and medium-sized organizations don’t realize or overlook their companies as potential targets for malicious actors and cybercriminals. Unfortunately, unlike before, cybercriminals currently target assets of companies of all sizes. In the current economy, nearly all companies and organizations have various things, such as valuable private data that attackers highly crave.
Therefore, realizing that you could be a target and implementing the basic frameworks for cybersecurity is a significant step in staying protected. Organizations of all sizes should constantly be aware they are targets. While some breaches can occur due to human error, acknowledging that hackers can come after your business is the first step to developing a solid defense.
2. Third-Party Exposure
Third-party exposure or supply chain attacks have increased in popularity since 2020. Most organizations operate in ecosystems that are more extensive than they realize. Technological trends, such as the Internet of Things, 5G network adoption, and smart systems, have led to an increase in connected devices, which is poised to surpass 27 billion by 2021.
That aside, adopting remote work models, which began during the pandemic, will likely continue in most working environments. Unfortunately, the cyber strength of these ecosystems relies on their weakest links. Cybercriminals can infiltrate strong networks by exploiting vulnerabilities in less-protected third-party networks with privileged access to hackers’ key targets.
A recent example of a third-party breach occurred in 2021 when cybercriminals leaked personal information from more than 214 million Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts. Hackers managed this leak by targeting Socialarks. A third-party company contracted and was given privileged access by the three social media platforms.
Unfortunately, third-party cyber breaches are expected to become a pressing threat in 2022. As more organizations rely on independent contractors to handle tasks previously done by full-time company employees. A 2021 report by Workforce trends showed that more than 50% of organizations tipped by the pandemic currently prefer hiring freelancers.
3. Complex and Fragmented Regulations
Cybersecurity adversaries are neither limited to country boundaries nor recognized jurisdictions. Unfortunately, organizations should navigate the growing and increasingly complicated regulations and frameworks provided by different countries. For instance, an international company should adhere to the General Data Protection Regulations, the Cybersecurity Laws of the People’s Republic of China, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and other worldwide regulations.
While these privacy and data protection measures are crucial, they are costly and create fragmented and conflicting priorities, weakening organizations’ defense mechanisms. Most global organizations should defend and protect their networks from attacks and comply with these complex and fragmented regulations within specific budgets.
Therefore, policymakers should weigh the impacts of their decision before rolling out these frameworks. Multiple cybersecurity policies make it complex for businesses to comply with all provisions. Complexity also becomes a challenge and doesn’t improve data protection. Corporation among various cybersecurity policymakers is crucial.
4. Poor Cyber Hygiene
Cyber hygiene refers to practices surrounding the use of technology, such as installing safeguards like VPN or multi-factor authentication and avoiding connections to unprotected WIFI. Unfortunately, most people have less desirable cyber hygiene practices.
For instance, more than 60% of small and medium organizations rely on employee memory to manage their passwords. 42% of these organizations use sticky notes and flimsy reminders for their passwords. Surprisingly, over half of IT, experts haven’t implemented the two-factor authentication for company accounts, and 45% of Americans will change their passwords after a data breach.
In 2022, remote working means that company networks and systems that rely on weak passwords are being accessed using unprotected home WIFI, and sticky note passwords have made their way into home offices and coffee shops. Remote employees log into company networks using personal devices that can easily be stolen.
That said, if individuals and organizations don’t improve their cybersecurity practices, they are at a greater risk than before. Unfortunately, IT professionals have worse cyber hygiene than regular people. 50% of IT experts reuse their passwords compared to 39% of ordinary people.
5. Lack of Cybersecurity Expertise
Ransomware attacks became popular after the 2017 WannaCry outbreak. Ever since, thousands of ransomware cohorts have emerged, making it a common and expensive cybersecurity threat for businesses. Key preventive measures for cybersecurity attacks, including ransomware, include sufficient preparation and ensuring business operations continuity after disruptions.
Organizations that adopt and implement proactive cybersecurity measures and reliable infrastructure are likely to succeed in preventing malicious actors. Businesses should view cybersecurity as a critical enabler of everyday business operations.
Therefore, organizations should include proactive plans to build and equip their cybersecurity workforce in its priorities. The surge in cyber threats has made it difficult for organizations to source and retain cybersecurity expertise. Therefore, companies should focus on cultivating and nurturing this talent internally.
6. Poor Data Management
Organizational data management goes beyond storing company data in organized and tidy systems. Ideally, the amount of consumer-generated data doubles after every four years. Unfortunately, more than half of this data isn’t analyzed or used. Accumulating surplus data often creates confusion, making such data vulnerable.
Data breaches resulting from handling mistakes are as costly as high-tech cyberattacks. For instance, Aetna incurred a $17 million fine for mailing sensitive health data using the wrong envelope in 2018. Due to the exponential explosion of consumer data. Cybersecurity experts predict a shift from “big data” to “right data” and an emphasis on storing only the required data in 2022.
With substantial data inflows, teams will heavily rely on automation to sort unnecessary data from essential data. Unfortunately, automation comes with its fair share of risks. Automated programs are very vulnerable to small mistakes. A minor mishap in the source is transmitted through the entire structure.
Additionally, while automated data processing relies on artificial intelligence, the settings and rules AI systems should follow are created by humans, who are also susceptible to error.
7. Difficulty in Tracking Cyber Criminals
Cybercriminals probably have the most luxurious careers with very few risks. Currently, the likelihood of cybercriminals being prosecuted is a mere 0.05% in the U.S and much lower in other countries. With obscuring techniques, such as dark web theatrics, proving that a particular hacker committed specific cybercrimes is difficult.
The increasing sophistication of tools on the dark web has also made cybercrimes a budding business model. Individuals and companies can also quickly and affordably hire cybercriminals from these platforms. While nothing much can be done, policymakers should work with cybercrime experts to create internationally recognized criteria for pursuing cyber criminals.
Protecting your organization and keeping up with cybersecurity threats can seem overwhelming. With hackers working tirelessly to develop new execution strategies before businesses update their defense systems. Even the best cybersecurity system can’t guarantee complete protection against cyberattacks. However, having comprehensive cybersecurity defense strategies can mitigate these attacks.
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