As 2020 gets underway, a growing threat landscape signals the need for stronger identity and access management policies across industries. Although many businesses and organizations are beginning to implement new strategies or update existing protocols in response to cybersecurity trends, some still struggle to protect their networks from hackers, employee ignorance and other breach risks.
U.S. State Department Lags Behind in Cybersecurity
A new audit from the Office of the Inspector General shows cybersecurity is still a “major management and performance” challenge for the U.S. State Department. Deficiencies were noted as far back as 2009, but unfilled cybersecurity positions and the absence of a clear chain of accountability appear to be holding the department back from implementing better security.
This lack of cybersecurity oversight may leave State Department information technology systems vulnerable to attack, which could become a significant concern in light of growing tensions between countries around the world. The U.S. government, like any large organization, must prioritize network security to prevent unauthorized access and protect systems, devices and information from malicious activities.
Government Agencies Move Toward Zero-Trust Security
In a recent FedScoop survey, 48% of federal government IT executives said they were switching from perimeter defense tactics to zero-trust network access policies as part of their efforts to meet new federal identity management requirements. The Federal Identity, Credential and Access Management policy, known as FICAM, is designed to promote interoperability, reduce redundancy and improve data protection by creating a common framework for access management and information security.
For many organizations implementing FICAM strategies, zero trust is a key element. Sixty-eight percent of IT executives say it’s a high priority in general; 74% focus on zero trust more for cloud systems and data storage. Other measures, such as passwordless logins, are scheduled to be implemented in over half of federal organizations’ protocols in the next two years. Such changes will support streamlined security while improving overall access control.
Mergers Expand Opportunities for Cybersecurity Companies
Merger and acquisition activities have been heating up in the cybersecurity industry in recent years. Companies seeking to expand their offerings are using acquisition as a way to cater to changing enterprise network needs by adding security coverage for cloud environments.
The need for skilled cybersecurity personnel is also a driving force. The cybersecurity industry is still experiencing a significant talent gap, but companies requiring stronger IT and security teams can improve their services by acquiring and leveraging talent from high-value vendors.
As more businesses merge, integration remains a top concern. Technologies must be compatible and able to deliver a streamlined user experience in order for companies to successfully meet client demands.
Small Businesses Continue to Face Cybersecurity Threats
Although 43% of all online attacks are now directed at small businesses, 66% of key decision makers in these companies don’t think breaches are likely to occur. Only 14% of small businesses have any kind of breach defenses in place; the rest are vulnerable to potentially devastating cyberattacks. A lack of defense is likely to have contributed to the breaches experienced by over half of small businesses within the last year.
With the average cost of a breach incident now at a staggering $200,000, it can be nearly impossible for small companies to bounce back after a cyberattack. Sixty percent of businesses close their doors within six months of being affected by breach activity. For small companies to survive in an environment where cloud-based systems and internet of things technologies are becoming integral to business operations, breach prevention strategies must become a standard part of all security protocols.
Employee Education Remains Key in Breach Prevention
Insider threats continue to represent one of the biggest cybersecurity concerns for businesses of all sizes. In a 2020 report from Gurucul, 53% of organizations agreed cloud migration has made it harder to detect insider threat activities, and 68% reported feeling “vulnerable to insider attacks.” Businesses can reduce these vulnerabilities and improve security by integrating employee cybersecurity education into company culture.
Critical steps for minimizing insider threats include:
• Establishing an employee education framework as part of an overall cybersecurity strategy
• Setting and enforcing security rules relating to password management, personal device security and removable media use
• Practicing attack and breach responses with routine drills
• Creating a policy to govern software installation and curtail shadow IT
• Including cybersecurity awareness in onboarding procedures
To ensure employees take cybersecurity seriously, company executives must make it a point to model and enforce proper security behaviors.
The evolution of cybersecurity continues to be a key consideration for IT professionals across organizations and industries. As recent news shows, strong cybersecurity policies are essential for protection but remain elusive in many sectors. Moving forward, businesses and government agencies must focus on combining cybersecurity skill with detailed access management policies to avoid the consequences of breach activity.