7 Ways Changing Security Requirements Will Impact Industries in 2021

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COVID-19 wasn’t the only challenge businesses faced in 2020. Last year also saw a wave of cybercrime across all industries, highlighting the need for better cybersecurity. As companies begin the recovery journey in 2021, these security needs will drive their operations.

Cybersecurity standards and requirements are changing, and businesses will have to change with them. These trends will reshape entire industries this year. Here’s what that shift will look like.


1. More Zero-Trust Adoption

The mass shift to remote work resulted in unprecedented levels of cloud adoption. A mid-2020 survey revealed that 82% of IT teams had increased their cloud use in response to the pandemic. This expansion of remote access, in turn, led to a new emphasis on zero-trust security models.

With so many people trying to access a system remotely, there’s a greater chance of employee devices becoming entry points for hackers. Zero-trust models mitigate this threat by limiting employee access and verifying everything. They ensure a breach in one sector won’t jeopardize the entire system.

As cloud adoption continues to grow, so will the business world’s fondness of zero-trust security. Before long, zero-trust could become the standard for many industries.

2. Higher Cybersecurity Budgets

One of the most significant impacts the 2020 cybercrime wave will have across all industries is a financial one. In light of rising cybercrime and consumer awareness of these events, businesses of all types will increase their cybersecurity budgets. Experts predict cybersecurity spending in critical infrastructure alone to increase by $9 billion this year.

This upward trend in spending is significant given the losses many companies now face. In Q2 2020, the U.S. experienced the steepest quarterly drop in economic output on record. Businesses across all industries are still grappling with the COVID-19 recession, so any budgetary increases would seem unusual at first.

The increase in cybersecurity budgets reflects new business priorities. More companies are starting to see cybersecurity as a necessity, not just an advantage. This type of spending wouldn’t happen amid a recession if businesses didn’t think it was essential.

3. Increased Documentation

As cybersecurity regulations and standards become more stringent, companies will document their strategies more comprehensively. In 2021, partners and clients won’t take businesses at their word that they have thorough security measures. If companies can provide evidence of their cybersecurity efforts, they can assure others they’re safe to work with.

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), codified in November 2020, requires documentation at most of its levels. While these requirements apply to Department of Defense contractors, other businesses will refer to them as well. Regulations like this will help guide new cybersecurity practices, so even companies that don’t have to document their practices will do so.

In early 2021, documentation will help assure key stakeholders of a company’s cyber defenses. As the year goes on, it will start to become a requirement for many organizations.

4. Less Third-Party Trust

The spike in cybercrime in 2020 is driving many businesses to reevaluate how they approach cybersecurity. One common flaw that became particularly apparent in 2020 is companies’ tendency to overlook third-party security. As cybersecurity standards tighten throughout 2021, more businesses will develop an inherent mistrust of third parties.

Prominent companies like Marriott, General Electric, and Tesla all suffered third-party data breaches last year. In light of these cases, industry cybersecurity standards will start to include tighter access controls for third parties. These regulations will, in turn, lead to a rise in suspicion over trust.

Industries that deal with more sensitive customer data, like health care and insurance, will adopt a standard of distrust. Hopeful vendors and partners will have to prove their reliability before any chance of a deal.

5. New Emphasis on Mobile Security

Even before the pandemic, smartphones were a growing part of doing business. As companies shifted to remote work, phones became an even more central part of operations and access. This trend, together with the uptick in cybercrime, will lead to a growing emphasis on mobile security.

Mobile access to company systems can be a tremendous help to remote workers, but more endpoints means more risk. As companies enable employees to do more from their phones, they’ll simultaneously invest more in mobile security. Before 2020, many businesses overlooked this area of cybersecurity, but that won’t be the case in 2021.

Some experts predict mobile security will be the fastest-growing cybersecurity category over the next few years. With remote work unlikely to fall out of fashion, it’s easy to see why.

6. More Subscription-Based Services

The effects of growing cybersecurity regulations will extend beyond a business’s IT practices. In some cases, they’ll go so far as to reshape an organization’s business models. Software and other technology developers, in particular, will likely move towards subscription-based models in 2021.

In April of last year, Nintendo disclosed that 160,000 user accounts were compromised thanks to a vulnerability in a legacy system. When users don’t update, it can lead to substantial breaches like this. As a result, many companies will prefer subscription-based services to ensure clients always have the most up-to-date system.

Last year’s cybercrime spike emphasizes that businesses can’t leave security to their clients. Subscription-based models remove some risks associated with user error.

7. Rapid Modernization

The move toward subscription-based services isn’t the only way industries will respond to legacy vulnerabilities. Many companies will approach modernization with new urgency in an effort to eliminate legacy systems. It’s become increasingly evident that any inconveniences that come with upgrading are worth the security benefits.

In the past, many businesses, especially in non-tech-centric industries, have been hesitant to upgrade their infrastructure due to related expenses. Over the past few years, the average cost of a data breach has risen by 10% to $3.86 million. As cyberattacks become increasingly expensive, businesses can no longer use cost to justify legacy systems.

Cybersecurity Is More Urgent in 2021

Cybersecurity has been essential for all businesses for years now. After a year as tumultuous as 2020, industries are finally waking up to its importance. Industry standards will adapt in response, spurring broader changes across companies.

2021 will be a period of change, but these changes are for the better. Businesses across all sectors are becoming safer and more aware of the challenges they face.