If IBM is right, we're in the process of entering a very different phase in the world of cybersecurity. According to their latest Cost of Data Breach Report, the average total cost of a data breach declined slightly, from a stomach-wrenching $3.92 million in 2019 to a still staggering $3.86 million in 2020.
But don't let this decline fool you; while there was a slight decrease in the costs of a data breach for large companies and mature enterprises, there was a sharp increase in costs for midmarket organizations.
While 2020 brought about expected advancements in technology and in cyber threats, it combined that with a global pandemic that turned the world on its head. This swift change led to a growing divide between organizations with more advanced security processes like automation and formal incident response teams, and those with less advanced security postures in those areas.
It may be tempting to completely shut the door on all things 2020, midmarket companies must learn from years past when it comes to cybersecurity threat predictions and protecting themselves against them. Familiarize yourself with the threats below so you can move through the rest of 2021 with a little more confidence.
Remote Workforce Exploitation
One year ago the quick spread COVID-19 resulted in an abrupt transition to a remote workforce for companies of all sizes. This seismic shift for workers meant that many cybersecurity measures became obsolete, lax, or completely unenforceable. Therefore it should come as no surprise that cybercriminals used this as a new attack vector, feasting on the many improperly secured connections and technologies used by this newly remote workforce.
While two-thirds of businesses had to shift at least 61% of their workforce to work from home, many organizations failed to address the areas that would've strengthened their security, and this trend has continued into 2021. Among other things, many midmarket companies:
- Fail to provide cybersecurity training to address the threats associated with working from home,
- Don't analyze the security of the tools they use for remote work, and
- fail to deploy new or updated antivirus software for work-issued devices.
Furthermore, many cloud collaboration tools dont provide adequate cybersecurity, and employees may not have adequate cybersecurity protections for their personal networks and devices.
"Many organizations failed to understand the gaps in their cybersecurity plans when transitioning to a remote workforce, experiencing a breach as a result," Malwarebytes CEO and co-founder Marcin Kleczynski said in an August. "The use of more, often unauthorized, devices has exposed the critical need for not just a complete, layered security stack, but new policies to address work from home environments. Businesses have never been more at risk and hackers are taking notice."
Exploitation of Bad Cyber Hygiene
Maintaining proper personal hygiene practices reduces the spread of illness and risk of medical conditions caused by not taking care of yourself. For companies looking to prevent cyber attacks, the same logic applies. Cyber hygiene practices like patching and updating user systems regularly, encouraging the use of multi-factor authentication, and limiting admin privileges needs to become ingrained within organizations. This importance is amplified by the rise in remote workforces.
Hackers have been encouraged because remote workers are sometimes using personal devices that are less secure, saving passwords in their browsers, and loaning corporate devices for personal use, all of which provide new opportunities for hackers to infiltrate unsuspecting businesses.
Ransomware on the Rise
According to Microsoft's annual "Digital Defense Report," published on Sep. 29, 2020, attackers have moved further away from malware-based attacks and toward phishing, credential stuffing, and business email compromise with more refined attacks. According to some, there's been a 715% year-on-year increase in detected and blocked ransomware attacks in 2020.
In 2021, these attacks show no signs of stopping because they are so lucrative. Ransomware has proven to be a good revenue stream for all threat actors, including nation-states. Ransomware is an equal opportunity offender; like phishing, anyone, from the CEO to the Receptionist, can be susceptible to ransomware attempts.
Buying Security Tools Without Necessary Planning or Staffing
With many of the innovative cybersecurity software solutions on the market, many midmarket companies fall into the trap of deploying expensive software solutions, expecting them to increase their productivity and safety, yet the opposite happens. This happens because software is inadequate if staff is not properly trained on the new technology, and old business practices aren't revised.
With a rush to quickly revise or enhance their existing cybersecurity solutions due to the pandemic, these business forgot about the most critical part of implementing any kind of change: the human element. It's important for organizations to stop and think about whether they have the right people or infrastructure to effectively use their new technologies.
Furthermore, there is still a shortage a shortage of properly trained, experienced IT Security professionals, meaning there will likely come a time where your organization cannot maintain the tool you purchased and there won’t be anyone you can hire to fill in the gaps.
Cloud Data Exposure
In the last few years, more organizations are electing to adopt multi-cloud, hybrid environments to solve their problems and to evolve to meet today’s business needs. However, these varying environments have led to a host of issues, including:
- security misconfigurations,
- lack of adequate visibility into access settings and activities, and
- identity and access management permission errors.
Multiple unknown threats can cause chaos in these combined environments and leave data exposed.
If you're interested in learning about what you can do to proactively discourage cyber threats, fill the gaps in your network, and how to better increase your cybersecurity posture and maturity, join LexduTech for our free Cybersecurity Challenges in the Midmarket and How to Overcome Them webinar on March 24th, 2021.
In this webinar, Stephen Jones, a 20 year cybersecurity veteran and LexduTech’s Senior Director of Cyber Security Services, covers the following midmarket challenges and ways to overcome them:
Procuring and managing necessary cybersecurity tools and resources to adequately detect, validate, report, and respond to incidents
- Identifying and filling gaps in your network
- Maintaining transparency and visibility in your cybersecurity environment
- Partnering with a cybersecurity provider without losing ownership of your data and history
- Integrating your cybersecurity management with other aspects of your IT infrastructure such as business continuity and user management
Tune in to expand your knowledge of the role of cybersecurity and how to protect your business.