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2021 Text with binary code GETTY
 

2020 has been a perilous challenge for everyone across the globe. It was the year of the virus, from both a biological and a digital perspective.
 

We were unexpectedly infected by Covid19, a deadly and disruptive virus that changed our way of living. Thankfully, great strides are being made in therapeutics, and vaccines are on the way.

The unexpected happened in 2020, and it served as an urgent wake-up call on the need for better pandemic preparedness.

Similarly, the digital scourge of cyber-attacks and breaches, exacerbated by the need for an ecosystem of immediate remote work to avoid Covid19, was calamitous. Hackers took advantage of the gaps in new remote work environments as the global cyber-attack surface greatly expanded.




Governments, companies, organizations, and individuals have paid a heavy price from breaches and from ransomware attacks—clearly, we were not adequately prepared for the digital virus either. 2021 needs to be the year for cybersecurity preparedness.With most businesses operating remotely, in 2020 hackers stepped up attacks against an expanded and target-rich environment. Breaches almost doubled from 2019. The surge correlates to an expanded attack surface.


This comes as no surprise because there were close to 4.6 billion Internet users active as of July 2020, representing 59% of the world’s population. Internet users in the world 2020 | Statista Online crimes reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) nearly quadrupled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

In 2021, the work from home trend will continue and cybersecurity will continue to be a major challenge. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, it is estimated that cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. Cybersecurity Ventures envisions that a business will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds by 2021.   
 

Global Ransomware Damage Costs Predicted To Reach $20 Billion (USD) By 2021 (cybersecurityventures.com)       
 

The means and capabilities of attack for hackers are varied across levels of sophistication and depending upon the actors, some who are related to organized crime groups or, especially, nation states.

Financial gains are still the main motivation behind most cyber-attacks. Phishing has been a tried-and-true method of gaining access to company and personal data. It is usually done by employing a fake website which is designed to look like the actual website.

The purpose of this attack is to trick the user into entering their username and password into the fake login form, which allows the hacker to steal the identity of the victim. Hackers can easily mimic known brand websites, banks, and even people you may know.
 

Another method of hackers to reap havoc has been the growing trend of ransomware. Although ransomware has been around for years, it has become a more prevalent method for hackers as they can operate under the cover of cryptocurrencies that are more difficult to 
 

trace. Ransomware can hold computers, and even entire networks, hostage for electronic cash payments. Cybersecurity Ventures forecasts that global ransomware damage costs to reach $20 billion by 2021 — which is 57X more than it was in 2015. Cybercrime To Cost The World $10.5 Trillion Annually By 2025 (cybersecurityventures.com)
 

There a many more types of cyber- threats, and their impact is accelerated by machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies that are allowing hackers to pinpoint vulnerabilities in networks and on devices for exploits.
 

The fundamental question for most companies and individuals is what can be done to better protect data in the increasingly connected global digital landscape. Below are a few basic actions we can undertake to make ourselves safer.

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