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A Look Back – Top Cyber Takeaways of 2020

While those who lived through the year 2020 would likely prefer to forget much of the year, historians will have chapters upon chapters of material to fill future Social Studies books with after all that has happened this year. A tense election in the U.S., protests both peaceful and riotous, and to top it off a global pandemic the likes of which has not been seen before and that which will have world-wide implications for years to come. Amidst all of this, one might think the cybercriminals might take it easy and have mercy on the public, or at least be distracted enough by what is going on in the world to slow down for a bit — but of course this is not the case. Below, we will take a look at just a few of the many cybersecurity topics from 2020 and try and find some takeaways for our personal and professional benefits.

Whistle While You Telework

Beginning in March of 2020, much of the workforce who was able to work remotely, shifted to a work from home model of work so that they could remain operational while the world was shut down. For many of these individuals, this was the first time in their lives they had done something like this. This completely changed the cybersecurity landscape when it came to protecting the employees of a company while operating online as it is harder to protect them in a less centralized network format. Not only this, businesses were now made even more vulnerable to threats of user error by overwhelmed and confused staff.

The Takeaway

Now that this has been the reality for many for over 8 months, many bugs have been worked out and each company has found a system that mostly works for them. This is one of the many areas where changes seen in 2020 caused by COVID will be felt for years and years to come as many companies will continue telework in some form or another where possible.

Zoom Meeting Mayhem

The shift to telework also saw a new video streaming service gain a massive amount of users in a short time. With schools, businesses, and families all trying to keep as much of the pre-pandemic world in place as they could, it was not long before this platform saw classes, business meetings, and family dinners flood its servers. The site is easy to use and was intuitive for many as a means to stay connected even from home. However, because the site offered things to make life easier for users, such as open meetings where a people didn’t have to bother with a password or other things that might cause delays in a meeting, hackers were able to intrude on these meetings with ease, showing a major flaw in system when it came to security.

The Takeaway

Since the cyber attacks and issues of Zoom in early 2020, the company has strengthened much of its cybersecurity measures along with many other sites that learned from Zoom’s mistakes such as Microsoft Teams and Cisco’s Webex. With the aforementioned likelihood of a future with businesses continuing their work from home work styles, secure meeting sites are essential to the success and safety of many companies.

Massive Data Breaches

2020 saw some pretty major data breaches — Experian hitting over 24 million impacted users and the largest data breach of the year being CAM4 with nearly 11 billion records accessed in their breach, just to name a few. On top of this, breaches were seen in Twitter, Microsoft, Estée Lauder, Bank of America, and more. Every year it seems that a company touching nearly every part of the user’s life is impacted by a malicious data breach.

The Takeaway

Keeping security in mind with the sites you use is always important. Utilizing this strange downtime at this time of year to double check the sites you have information tied to as well as the strength of your passwords for each of these sites is a good idea. As is the case at all times, be sure to use unique, complex passwords for each site, take advantage of two-factor authentication whenever possible, and if possible, invest in identity theft protection to ensure your information is not being used by malicious actors.

This year was crazy, but hopefully these key takeaways can help guide us on how we will navigate 2021 and the years to come.

Image by starline for Freepik.