Onkar Birk, Alert Logic: Working From Home Will Redefine Defense Strategies

This is part of an ongoing 2021 predictions series. We’ve asked top cyber experts to contribute their insights and expertise to provide a look ahead at what the new year may bring to cybersecurity.


Onkar Birk, Chief Product Officer at Alert Logic:


"Working from home will redefine defense strategies. At most organizations, three-quarters of employees now work from home (WFH), compared to one-quarter at the end of 2019, and 84 percent of U.S. companies are likely to broaden WFH adoption after the pandemic. In addition, more than one-half of professionals use their personal laptops and computers for business, but three-of-five say their employer hasn’t provided tools to properly protect these devices. Such patterns are increasing the risk equation, with 63 percent of security pros seeing a rise in cyberattacks since the pandemic. Ransomware incidents have grown 72 percent during this period.

With an abundance of corporate data on home networks, we should only expect these trends to continue in 2021. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly vulnerable because they can’t afford the staffing required to protect their data and systems. What’s more, the Internet of Things (IoT)/connected devices will emerge as sources of greater risk in the next year, as employees work on home devices which are also connected to their refrigerators, air conditioning/heating systems, security cameras, etc.

To address this, enterprise-level chief information security officers (CISOs) and vendors supporting smaller businesses will need to reexamine strategies to invest more on consolidated, integrated services and tools, instead of acquiring hundreds of stovepiped solutions. The legacy mindset of “best of breed” products is now passé. With a digital transformation agenda leading the way, IT and industry leaders must focus on interoperability – with solutions that pave a clear path toward tangible ROI-boosting outcomes.

Vulnerabilities will increase with the increase in software Installs. The pandemic has caused people to delay many important activities including dental visits and other health screenings, and installing new software in organizations is no exception. There are a number of reasons for this but one obvious one is that it’s harder to update software remotely. In the short term, that leads to fewer vulnerabilities introduced by new software. This, however, is really a false sense of security as security teams catch up on patching their existing vulnerabilities. As we return to normal, so will the increase in software installs and with it will be a rapid increase in vulnerabilities. Security teams must be prepared."


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