Executive predictions: Changes to expect in 2021

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As 2021 gets underway, we’re looking ahead to the changes, developments, and trends the coming year will bring to the cybersecurity industry. To help you prepare for 2021, we recently spoke to three Barracuda executives, each with their own perspective and predictions about what the next 12 months have in store and what businesses need to be aware of to stay secure.

Hatem Naguib, COO

First, let me start off by saying that if anyone had predicted half the things that happened in 2020, we should be paying them a lot to give us predictions for 2021. Going into 2021, we should expect many of the key trends in 2020 to continue. Specifically:

  1. Distributed enterprises and remote workers. In the span of a few weeks, we went from 10% of workers being remote to over 90% of workers moving to remote. This required IT organizations to scramble to set up access and security controls for their employees. This trend will continue in 2021 as we see many companies slowly bringing back some key workers to their facilities and adopting measures that will give their employees flexibility if they can maintain productivity.
  2. Cloud adoption. Here we see two key trends. First, new applications are delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS) instead of on-premises implementation. Second, and more importantly, existing on-premises applications are migrating faster to the cloud. Typically, macro-level trends like digital transformation and leveraging of cloud services tend to increase in a hockey stick fashion, where there is a period of time where we see accelerated adoption and then an inflection point of activity. 2020 was that inflection point for many with the cloud. COVID-19 forced many companies to significantly accelerate their migration to cloud services to address shutdowns and remote workers.
  3. Shortage of key resources to help mitigate security issues. There will be a continued shortage of cybersecurity talent despite the recession and COVID-19 job losses.
  4. Increase in attacks that will take advantage of the new reality — distracted workers, global pandemic, cost pressures from the recession, remote access, accelerated adoption of cloud services. Each of these alone would be cause for concern for cybersecurity professionals. All these macro trends happening simultaneously requires us to have the highest level of vigilance against those who would take advantage of these situations.


Fleming Shi, CTO

There's the one retirement that I'm very happy about but also worried about. Maze ransomware is retiring, but that doesn't mean there won’t be new ransomware strains this year. Going into 2021, there are a few elements that I think will continue to be the main drivers for cybersecurity. Part of it is that SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) is definitely here to stay. In 2021, the focus will on securing devices and edges in very distributed environments. So, if you think about that, threats are no longer something that you can block based on IP addresses based on domains. Cybercriminals are going to be infiltrating people's endpoints, and the attacks are usually going to be at the data level and then move laterally along whatever axis it has available. For example, file sync and share, that's a SaaS solution, so you cannot block that by IP address. So, from a security perspective, it will be important to focus on what we called micro-segmentation, working away from the network, IPv4 stack, or infrastructure stack to get closer to the endpoint and the data.



Klaus Gheri, VP, Network Security

The COVID-19 pandemic and the transformational pressure it has created on work habits and work environments will continue to provide increased attack surfaces. Zero Trust Network Access solutions and accelerated adoption of cloud-based solutions are the way for organizations to keep risk under control. Corporate endpoints will be predominately used outside the perimeter of the corporate network in work-from-home environments. This will require many organizations to review their current endpoint security and compliance enforcement approaches. 

Hatem, Fleming, Klaus, and other Barracuda leaders will be checking in occasionally to share their insights and expertise on public cloud, digital transformation, the state of cybersecurity, and more.  Subscribe to our blog to make sure you get all of our updates!

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