A shortage of technical staff, the rapid migration to the cloud, increased regulatory compliance and the unrelenting evolution of threats continue to be significant security challenges. However, responding to COVID-19 remains the biggest challenge for both businesses and IT teams in 2021. We take a look at the top trends in cyber security and the challenges and opportunities they pose for the channel.

The pandemic response depended greatly on cloud. But that also exposed security gaps as users and applications became more distributed than ever before. Against this backdrop, COVID-19 will continue to refocus security teams on the value of cloud-delivered security and operational tools that don’t require a LAN connection, on remote access policies and tools, migration to cloud data centres and SaaS applications, and securing new digitisation efforts to minimise person-to-person interactions.

“The rapid migration to cloud computing, regulatory compliance requirements, the rise of AI and IoT and the unrelenting evolution of threats will continue to transform the threat landscape in 2021 and beyond,” says Westcon’s Daniel Hurel, VP of Cybersecurity and Next Gen Solutions.

Security moves to the edge

There will be more emphasis on enterprise network edge security and protecting users, services, applications and data, as enterprises embrace distributed application environments. Achieving high levels of security throughout the network edge and into the last mile of distribution is a key challenge for enterprises, and partners need to enable it by providing security services at the network edge. As perimeter protection becomes less meaningful, businesses need a ‘zero trust’ approach to evolve to current security needs.

Zero Trust Access will begin to replace VPNs

The pandemic has highlighted many of the problems with traditional VPNs, such as using a one-time authentication process and then assuming all is well if the user is within the network. In contrast, the Zero Trust Access model of ‘never trust and always verify’ continually authenticates all users or devices that attempt to access the network. Full-scale Zero Trust Access adoption does require enterprises to have an accurate mapping of which users need access to what applications which will slow adoption, but a recent report by Pulse Secure revealed that 60% of organisations have accelerated Zero Trust projects in response to COVID-19.

XDR improves accuracy and productivity

XDR (extended detection and response) solutions that automatically collect and correlate data from multiple security products will improve threat detection and provide an incident response capability. For example, an attack that caused alerts on email, endpoint and network can be combined into a single incident. The primary goals of an XDR solution are to increase detection accuracy and improve security operations efficiency and productivity. Centralisation and normalisation of data also helps improve detection by combining softer signals from more components to detect events that might otherwise be ignored.

SASE will grow unabated

Network security will migrate from LAN-based models to SASE (secure access service edge) as organisations move past the initial responses they implemented last year for the unexpected increase in remote working. SASE allows businesses to better protect mobile workers and cloud applications by routing traffic through a cloud-based security stack, rather than backhauling the traffic so it flows through a physical security system in a data centre. Driven by small-to-medium businesses because of its ease of use, the SASE market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 116%, with a market value of $5.1 billion by 2024.

AI integration boosts security

As cyberattacks continue to grow in intensity and sophistication, AI is set to help under-resourced security teams stay ahead of the threats. By analysing massive quantities of risk data from structured and unstructured resources, AI provides threat intelligence, reducing the time the security team takes to make critical decisions and respond to remediate the threat. According to market estimates, artificial intelligence in the cybersecurity market is projected to grow from $8.8 billion in 2019 to $38.2 billion by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate of 23.3%.

Partners to focus on high-growth areas

Security is a moving target, and keeping up with security threats in 2021 will require partners and end users to adopt and integrate new and emerging technologies. With the global security market predicted to grow by $64bn by 2023 (with an average of 10% year-on-year), partners should look to the high-growth markets of cloud and IoT security, Zero Trust Access, DevSecOps and next generation SOC to meet changing customer needs while generating recurring revenues that deliver more predictability and stability.

As cybersecurity trends emerge, businesses must adopt a proactive rather than IT security posture to maintain business continuity. They must be more nimble, flexible and collaborative to secure their critical assets. However, increasingly sophisticated threats will make it hard for them to focus on their core business objectives while ensuring security. This is a challenge, but an opportunity for the channel to help them prevent, detect and respond effectively to the evolving threat landscape in 2021.

To learn more about the biggest changes affecting the channel in 2021, download our industry trends eBook now.