Post-pandemic predictions: a peek at what 2021 has in store on the cyber-security front

From safer shopping to stronger security controls in the corporate sphere, high tech protection will remain centre stage in the upcoming year

Australian ICT and cyber-security professionals have had their work cut out for them over the past 12 months, helping to maintain business continuity in the face of COVID disruption and holding the fort against a relentless onslaught of high tech threats. So, what does the new year have in store in the cyber-security sphere? Here are six developments we expect to play out in 2021.

Making online shopping seamless and secure

Australians have long been enthusiastic online shoppers but since COVID struck, uptake has exploded. The NAB Online Retail Sales Index: October 2020 showed year on year growth of 59.3 per cent, as we loaded our online carts with takeaway food, homewares and appliances, liquor and groceries. We’re unlikely to switch back to bricks and mortar in 2021 but what will change is our collective tolerance for the agro that’s still associated with dealing with retailers and service providers digitally – think multiple user name and ID requests, identity challenges and the like. Companies know they need to do better, if they hope to keep our custom, and this year we can expect to see suppliers across a range of sectors pulling out all the stops to give us seamless, secure experiences.

Taking back control of personal data

Worried about what Big Tech and assorted smaller service providers are doing with your personal data? You and half the globe. This could well be the year we do something about it, by demanding greater control over how our personal data is used and shared. Don’t be surprised to see the emergence of ‘personal identity frameworks’ that allow consumers to manage the specific data and identity attributes they share with apps more easily.

Cracking down on ransomware

Holding companies and their data hostage was a real ‘thing’ in 2020, with opportunistic adversaries using ransomware to damage and disrupt operations. Here in Australia, bad actors even succeeded in briefly shutting down beer supply, after dairy and beverage giant Lion sustained an attack! These high-tech hijackers will undoubtedly continue their campaigns in 2021 but may find the going somewhat less easy, as governments and businesses amp up their efforts to keep them at bay.

Pushing Multi-Factor Authentication into the mainstream

Zero trust is a well-accepted framework for securing the corporate network by requiring users and devices to verify their credentials, each and every time they log on. That applies even if they’re located inside the corporate network; an area typically viewed as a safe zone. Zero trust can mitigate the vulnerabilities created and amplified by remote working and, for that reason alone, 2021 is likely to be the year we see Australian organisations embracing the model en masse. Multi-factor authentication is foundation zero trust technology and such solutions will fast become de rigueur.

Fighting off AI driven attacks

In recent years, much has been made of the role Artificial Intelligence can play in helping organisations predict, detect and repel cyber-attacks on their systems and services. But this technology is also available to other entities and individuals, including hackers and cyber-criminals.  Twenty-twenty-one may well be the year they begin using it in earnest, to perpetrate sophisticated attacks on major companies and services.

Imposing stronger penalties for security slips

Data protection regulations have been strengthened in recent times and the penalties for organisations that fail to safeguard customers’ personal information have risen accordingly. Australia’s privacy watchdog now has the power to impose fines of up to $10 million for serious and serial offenders. It’s shown little appetite for doing so, to date, but that may change in 2021. Consumers are becoming progressively more aware – and progressively more concerned – about where their data resides and how it’s being safeguarded. They’re likely to welcome action that demonstrates government’s commitment to making businesses do the right thing.

Ashley Diffey
Ashley Diffey is a passionate leader with over 20 years of experience in B2B sales, key account management and business development in both the finance and ICT/telecommunications industries, specialising in security, data, communications, SaaS and hosted software. As Head of Asia-Pacific and Japan for Ping Identity, Ashley is responsible for accelerating sales and bolstering customer support and services to continue driving the increasing demand for Ping Identity’s solutions in the region. He works with organisations to achieve Zero Trust identity-defined security and more personalised, streamlined user experiences. In addition, he works closely with customers to provide flexible identity solutions that accelerate digital business initiatives, delight customers, and secure the enterprise through multi-factor authentication, single sign-on, access management, intelligent API security, directory, and data governance capabilities. Prior to joining Ping Identity, Ashley worked at leading ICT/Telecommunication companies, including F5 Networks, Commvault and Telstra. During his tenure at F5 Networks, he oversaw the organisation’s southern regional channel and Telstra partnership. He was also Director for Channel Sales Australia and New Zealand at Commvault.