Flint Brenton, CEO, Centrify
Ransomware incidents will triple – and data exfiltration will overtake encryption as the attackers’ end game. Since the beginning of 2020, research has shown U.S. ransomware attacks are rapidly increasing. In Q3 2020 alone, the daily average number of attacks essentially doubled in frequency. While ransomware variants also continue to evolve into more sophisticated threats, perhaps the most troubling datapoint is that the U.S. has become the most targeted country, with attacks jumping as much as 98% in the same timeframe.
These statistics illustrate a persistent onslaught of threat actors that could indicate 2021 will be our most challenging year yet in combating ransomware in the enterprise. What’s important to understand is that the attacks don’t just attempt to execute a lockout or encryption of data anymore, but are increasingly aimed at extraction or stealing data from organizations. While some cybercriminals may sell the data on the Dark Web, others may threaten to leak the data for a higher payout on the ransom. We predict that this will become hackers’ ransomware end game – though the risk of detection rises along with the potential payday. Granting ‘least privilege’ is essential in preventing unauthorized access to business-critical systems and sensitive data by both external actors and malicious insiders. Striving towards zero-standing privileges and only granting just-enough, just-in-time access to target systems and infrastructure can limit lateral movement that could lead to data exfiltration and additional damage.
“This year, organizations have been busy responding to the rapid shift to remote work and the cyber risks that were heightened as a result of bad actors using the pandemic as a catalyst to continue carrying out their crimes against organizations through phishing, malware distribution, false domain names, and other attacks on teleworking infrastructure. With a distributed workforce, organizations of all sizes and across industries have relied on email to maintain business continuity, especially in a world that was already trending towards a greater adoption of flexible remote working opportunities. Unfortunately, email attacks have risen and will likely continue to increase, making them prime targets for enacting cyber crime, especially if providing information about COVID-19 testing, resources and research.
While we continue to navigate the uncertainties of the pandemic in 2021, it is important to reiterate simple steps to avoid or minimize attacks on businesses: Identify suspicious senders, exercise caution before clicking on links or opening attachments, and instill a backup strategy that utilizes the 3-2-1 backup rule. A strong 3-2-1 backup plan includes having at least three copies of your data across multiple locations: the original, a first backup stored onsite and a second backup located offsite. Although the new year will certainly bring new risks, we have the tools to build a foundation that actively protects us from them.”
Terry Storrar, Managing Director at Leaseweb UK:
“I think if 2020 has taught us anything from a business perspective it is that you never know what is around the corner. Over the next 12 months, I strongly believe that disaster recovery and likewise business continuity will play a huge part in how organisations prepare their IT systems going forward. Never has data been more vital for survival than it is today and its importance will only continue to increase, especially with more organisations turning to the remote working set up on a more permanent basis. Across industries, this means we will all need to look at the best ways to balance our appetite for risk whilst ensuring we are agile enough to adapt to instant changes of circumstance.”
Amanda Regnerus, EVP, products and services, US Signal
“Cloud projects will become more diverse and creative. The sudden attraction to cloud computing stems from the shortcomings of enterprise IT infrastructures. With state-mandated lockdowns and closures, IT professionals are unable to maintain systems that need physical support. This creates a standstill in productivity and profitability. Due to this period of immense change, in 2021, we expect to see a transition in the way businesses use cloud computing. For example, cloud projects may begin to revolve around business-critical systems as opposed to solely being utilized for data consolidation and process integration. To adjust to changing markets, businesses of all sizes will use cloud-based analytics software to cope with changes in demand and supply chain disruption. To facilitate these diverse use cases, it will be crucial for businesses to work with a cloud service provider that has the necessary network connectivity and redundant architecture for maximum response and uptime, even at times of peak demand.”
Flint Brenton, CEO, Centrify
Nearly every business will be cloud reliant, leveraging multiple cloud providers. When COVID-19 hit, many organizations moved their workloads into the cloud for better resource availability and business continuity. In fact, a recent Centrify study revealed the remote work shift rapidly accelerated half of companies’ cloud transformation plans. For those who were not cloud-first, the pandemic revealed a glaring reality: businesses must embrace the cloud as a necessity in the modern tech landscape rather than view it as an option.
Looking to 2021 and beyond, almost all businesses will rely on cloud storage, infrastructure, and workloads to survive. Mid-size, large, and global enterprises will look to leverage multiple cloud providers to meet a range of requirements for both centralized and per-business-unit priorities. Utilizing an approach centered around increased efficiency, agility, and security, businesses can be better-equipped for this inevitably multi-cloud focused future.
Carl D’Halluin, CTO, Datadobi
“Cloud consumption is going to accelerate, creating a wider need for organizations to embrace hybrid storage setups. Organizations will need software to manage their unstructured data in this decentralized storage world. Businesses in every industry are wondering about the practicality of their on-premise storage gear now that their employees, customers, and other stakeholders are all working from home. As cloud file systems continue to mature, cloud vendors will start seeing higher adoption rates as they add features and prove stability. As a result, at some point in the next year, customers will wonder if they should spend money on a fully duplicated on-premise file server infrastructure, or if they should redirect that money to the cloud to enable global data availability, data protection, and data archival.
As organizations move away from a single-vendor on-premise storage infrastructure and look to a fully comprehensive storage plan that likely includes an increase in cloud, they will begin to buy from more than one vendor for a comprehensive storage solution. In this multi-vendor world, customers will need software to manage their unstructured data — no matter the placement. In the new hybrid setups most organizations will have in 2021 and beyond, it is important that data sets are moved, copied, or archived to the optimal locations. By utilizing software created for unstructured data management, IT administrators can see an overview of their data and as a result set up policies, satisfy compliance regulation, protect against threats, and optimize costs for their storage.”
Robert Van der Meulen, global product strategy lead, Leaseweb Global
Expanding enterprises can start quickly if they design their infrastructure in a flexible way with hybrid cloud. With IT spending under scrutiny in the midst of the current economic climate, enterprises and SMBs alike are going to be eager to move out of the public cloud. Public cloud is satisfactory if you need a lot of scalability in the short term, but costs greatly increase for this flexibility. Companies are going to be more risk averse, cost effective and grow in dependence upon connectivity as the remote work trend increases in all industries. The drive for connectivity and bandwidth will lead enterprises to move to areas that have prioritized connectivity, such as China and other Asian-Pacific countries and certain parts of Europe.
Hybrid cloud will be a key tool for expanding enterprises and allows companies to procure flexible capacity and experience easy growth start-up when developing in a new region. Once revenue begins to come in they can work with infrastructure providers to move to more effective solutions such as colocation, bare metal servers or content delivery networks depending on the need. Infrastructure providers who specialize in hybrid solutions can evaluate your business needs and workloads to match the right type of technology to your requirements. With the right hybrid infrastructure in place, organizations can rest assured that their expansion will start off on the right foot.
Charles Burger, Global Director of Assureon Solutions, Nexsan, a StorCentric Company
“Historically, data migration, data replication, and data synchronization have been complicated endeavors that result in creating obstacles, instead of delivering the strategic business value, IT benefits, and budgetary advantages for which they were intended. Consequently in 2021, data mobility will climb the priority list of virtually all data center professionals – especially, as they accelerate their integration of multiple cloud providers, alongside existing infrastructure. It will therefore be critical that they employ strategies and solutions that enable seamless movement of data across heterogeneous on-premises, remote, and cloud environments.”
Michael Jack, VP of global sales and co-founder, Datadobi
“In 2021, organizations that understand unstructured data management are going to be the winners. On a global scale, unstructured data is growing at such a rapid pace that the sheer amount of it is out of control. This makes it difficult for organizations to make informed decisions when staring into such a muddled abyss. Having a strategy to manage unstructured data is now essential and will put space between the leaders and those forced to play catch up. But, devising a strategy for such a complex environment isn’t innate to most enterprise-scale organizations–they’ll need help.
Vendors that understand management of unstructured data will be the differentiating factor that most organizations are looking for. Experienced vendors can provide knowledgeable insights to optimize unstructured storage environments. More and more, important business decisions will revolve around migrating data into the cloud and then about how to protect it, move it around and archive it. In the year ahead, businesses that have ballooning quantities of unstructured data will need guidance on how to make use of it, what insights can be gleaned from it, and how to make informed decisions based on it.”
Steve Leeper, office of the CTO, Datadobi
“In 2021 visibility and management of massive datasets will be the name of the game. Enterprise IT professionals will be seeking solutions that give them valuable insights into the datasets for which they are responsible. Beyond getting insights into the data they will need innovative technology that allows them to take action and manage the data in a reliable and automated fashion.
The story does not end there, however, as these same professionals will want world-class service and support to ensure the solution meets all the needs of their organization. They will be looking to their trusted channel advisors (VARs, SIs, and distributors) for a relationship that doesn’t end at the loading dock. IT professionals will be seeking a true partner that is able to help them to navigate the entire data movement process, in a highly predictable manner — from identifying the right data to move, to helping them to move it as quickly, accurately, securely, and cost effectively as possible — all while maintaining critical capabilities, such as chain of custody tracking and integrity reporting.”