Network Security: Predictions for 2021

Jan 15, 2021
5 minutes

For me, the simplest way to summarize 2020 is with one word: unpredictable. Though each year has a level of unpredictability, 2020 was an extreme example. As we look forward into 2021, we hope for positive changes, but 2020 will always be a reminder to plan for unpredictability. In light of that, here a few network security predictions for the coming year.


Network Security Predictions: Planning for Unpredictability

Many of the technologies that companies turned to as digital transformation ramped up were incredibly helpful in getting through a year no one could have predicted. The key watchwords were hosted, as-a-service and cloud-delivered. Whether applied to cybersecurity, networking, compute, storage or anything else, these technologies give companies the ability to prepare for unpredictability and put in place flexibility. This can be the flexibility to quickly scale up, and it can also be the ability to relocate people and resources as needed. In 2021, plan for unpredictability, and your planning will serve you well even during predictable times.


SASE: Driving Cloud-delivered Networking and Security Transformation

The workplace as we know it has changed forever. The rapid and massive shift to remote work – exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak – has dramatically accelerated the need to modernize infrastructure. In 2021, as remote and hybrid work are expected to continue, more organizations are expected to turn to the secure access service edge (SASE) for a complete cloud-delivered networking and security solution. This will help them provide secure connectivity for any user, on any device, accessing any application from any location.


5G Security: Not Just for Carriers

The promise of 5G is much more than faster browsing on mobile phones. Done right, 5G can bring massive business transformation by enabling “cutting the wires” in environments where Wi-Fi wasn’t good enough. But for 5G to live up to its promise of enabling smart supply chains, autonomous transportation, smart manufacturing and more, it will need to have enterprise-grade security. Service providers will have a key role to play in securing their 5G networks, but anyone rolling out business applications on 5G will need to pay attention to that security and possibly layer on their own security.


Machine Learning: Helping Cybersecurity Systems Becomes More Proactive

Threat actors are continuing to use the easy availability of computing power, including the public cloud, to quickly morph and increase the speed of attacks. To handle this, next-generation firewalls are using machine learning to evolve from systems that react to the last attack to systems that are continuously learning, preventing zero-day threats inline, automating policy recommendations and proactively improving security.

Machine learning can also aid organizations in their quest to prevent business-disrupting incidents caused by dynamic factors such as changes in network traffic patterns, system-related factors such as software defects, and configuration changes.


IoT Security: More Important Than Ever

An increasing number of IoT devices will continue to get connected to the enterprise network. Whether these are medical devices, flow monitors, surveillance cameras, IP phones, point-of-sale systems, conference room technology or even connected teddy bears, IoT will continue to be on the network and in the organization because the potential benefits are immense. Organizations see these devices as essential pieces of infrastructure, but they present unique challenges for security teams. IoT devices are connected to an enterprise’s central network, yet they are generally unmanaged. For the most part, they are also unregulated. They can be shipped with unknown or unpatched vulnerabilities, and often their useful life exceeds their supported life.

Multiple IoT security solutions will emerge to address these risks. However, the ideal IoT security solution will not require dedicated analysts, sensors or manual fingerprinting technologies and will proactively monitor device risk, detect anomalies, recommend and apply policies for enforcement and prevent threats – all the while ensuring the most accurate and deepest level of visibility. IoT security solutions can be deployed as cloud-delivered services, allowing organizations to keep moving at full speed while helping alleviate their IoT security concerns in the office or at home.


Data Protection: More Critical but More Broadly Available

Data breaches are a huge and growing problem worldwide. Because of the digital transformation of business over the past 20 years, vastly more organizations are creating, collecting and storing large amounts of sensitive data – but Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions have not evolved to where they are accessible to all who need them. Most of the legacy DLP systems were only designed to help global-scale organizations that have huge data protection budgets and staffs. Until recently, cloud-only solutions were not comprehensive solutions, but that has begun to change.


Much More Ahead

As we look ahead to this coming year and beyond, there are lots of exciting technologies that can help us plan for what we expect – and even more so for what we don’t.

Want to know more about the future of cybersecurity in 2021? Read Greg Day’s cybersecurity predictions for Europe, the Middle East and Asia.


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