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ROUNDTABLE: What happened in privacy and cybersecurity in 2021 — and what’s coming in 2022

By Byron V. Acohido

In 2021, we endured the fallout of a seemingly endless parade of privacy controversies and milestone cyber attacks.

Related: The dire need to security-proof APIs

The Solar Winds hack demonstrated supply chain exposures; the attempted poisoning of a Tampa suburb’s water supply highlighted public utilities at risk; and the Colonial Winds ransomware attack signaled cyber extortionist rings continuing to run rampant.

On the privacy front, California beefed up its consumer data privacy regulations even as Facebook and Apple publicly feuded over how each of these tech giants abuse of consumer privacy and loosey handle sensitive data.

Meanwhile, President Biden issued a cybersecurity executive order finally putting the federal government’s regulatory stamp on foundational cyber hygiene practices many organizations should have already been doing, yet continue to gift short shrift.

Last Watchdog sought commentary from technology thought leaders about lessons learned in 2021– and any guidance they might have to offer heading into 2022.

GUEST ESSAY: Introducing ‘killware’ — malware designed to contaminate, disrupt critical services

By Jack Chapman

Within the past year, we have seen a glut of ransomware attacks that made global news as they stymied the operations of many. In May, the infamous Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack disrupted nationwide fuel supply to most of the U.S. East Coast for six days.

Related: Using mobile apps to radicalize youth

But the danger has moved up a notch with a new, grave threat: killware.

Killware is a type of malware deployed to cause physical harm: contaminate community water supplies, exploit and obstruct networks used by hospitals and healthcare facilities, jam air traffic control networks, contaminate gasoline supplies, and, in some instances, deliberately cause death where and when it is least expected.

Earlier in the year, there was an attempted hack of a water treatment facility in Oldsmar, Florida. This attack, however, was not for financial gain; it was intended to inflict harm.

Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, told USA Today that the attack “was intended to distribute contaminated water to residents, and that should have gripped our entire country.”

GUEST ESSAY: Why the arrests of cyber criminals in 2021 will incentize attackers in 2022

By Wade Lance

In 2021, law enforcement continued making a tremendous effort to track down, capture and arrest ransomware operators, to take down ransomware infrastructure, and to claw back ransomware payments.

Related: The targeting of supply chains

While some of these efforts have been successful, and may prevent more damage from being done, it is important to realize that headline news is a lightning rod for more attacks. Successful attacks breed copycats, and their arrests make room for replacements. Malicious actors are opportunistic.

Of course they don’t want to get busted and they don’t want authorities taking down their infrastructure, but these arrests are an incentive to get into the ransomware market and a learning experience on how to adapt their tactics.

I expect a new wave of ransomware operators that use cryptocurrency to avoid tracking, remotely-located operations to avoid extradition and arrest, and the hardening of operational security to avoid infrastructure take down.

GUEST ESSAY: Lessons learned in 2021 as cloud services, mobility and cybersecurity collided

By Kelly Ahuja

In 2021 we witnessed the continuation of the seismic shift in how people work, a change that started at the beginning of the global pandemic. The acceleration of cloud, mobility, and security initiatives proved to be critical for organizations looking to weather the new threats and disruptions.

Related: How ‘SASE’ blends connectivity, security

In fact, the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report found that “with an unprecedented number of people working remotely, phishing and ransomware attacks increased by 11 percent and 6 percent respectively.” Cybercriminals have taken advantage of security challenges that arise from the new model of remote work and collaboration.

To combat this, businesses who are agile in adopting digital transformation strategies reaped the benefits: from better security hygiene to reduce the risk of a data breach to improved productivity that ultimately yields higher revenue. Here are a few important trends that you should consider for 2022:

Single vendor SASE play

Last year, we predicted that SASE would be an essential strategic initiative, design approach, and implementation standard for enterprise network and network security deployments around the globe. In 2022, SASE will accelerate to become the gold standard for organizations looking to achieve consistency, flexibility, and high performance for both their security and networking needs.

Businesses and organizations will gravitate towards a single vendor SASE provider for uniform, consistent, and ubiquitous security, networking, and business policies to every user, application, and device. This single vendor model will still need to allow for the option to integrate with third-party SASE services.

GUEST ESSAY: Ransomware pivot 2021: attackers now grab, threaten to leak sensitive data

By Dr. Darren Williams

Ransomware attacks have reached a record high this year, with nearly 250 attacks recorded to date and months to go. As we’ve seen with major attacks like Kaseya and Colonial Pipeline, cybercriminals have continued to innovate, developing new tools and tactics to encrypt and exfiltrate data.

Related: Kaseya breach worsens supply chain worries

Where previously ransomware gangs relied solely on the attack’s disruption to daily business to be enough for the victim to pay the ransom, today’s stakes are much higher, with gangs exfiltrating information to make ransom threats to sell or publish victims’ information far and wide.

This leaves many organizations frustrated, damaged and ultimately devastated, as fully recovering from the loss of sensitive and confidential files detailing financial information, business IP, customer data and more, can be a nearly impossible task.

The ongoing battle to secure data from highly sophisticated ransomware gangs like REvil and others continues to rage on, despite recent news that these groups have disbanded in response to pressure from law enforcement.

GUEST ESSAY: The shock waves of mental illness have begun exacerbating cybersecurity exposures

By Nitin Chopra

Mental health at work is undergoing a rapid transformation. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused an increase in feelings of loneliness and isolation, workers’ mental health was under pressure.

Related: Capital One hacker demonstrated ‘erratic behavior’

According to a recent workforce health survey, 40% of workers experienced mental health issues this past year, double the year before. We are in the midst of a workplace mental health crisis that’s affecting individual employees and entire companies.

While it’s obvious people are not getting the mental health care they need and deserve, and we must do better as a nation, there is an overlooked aspect of this crisis affecting businesses.

The vulnerabilities and challenges associated with declining worker mental health is causing cybersecurity risks to increase, especially from insider threats.

Mental health cyber risks

Many organizations categorize employee mental health and a human resources concern, yet mounting evidence proves that the effects of mental health go much deeper. Declining workplace mental health is affecting cybersecurity in various ways. When an employee is struggling, they may reach a tipping point and become an insider threat. According to Verizon, 22 percent of all security incidents involve insiders.

GUEST ESSAY: Securely managing access controls is vital to preserving the privacy of healthcare data

By Balraj Dhillon

There’s no doubt, the increasing use of telemedicine, the explosion of health-based cloud apps, and innovative medical IoT devices are improving the patient care experience.

Related: Hackers relentlessly target healthcare providers

However, healthcare data ranks at the top of the list for needing improvements in security and privacy protections. This data is managed by different entities, such as primary care facilities, acute care facilities and within associated applications that collect, store and track health data, creating numerous exposure vulnerabilities.

There are many reasons for the vulnerable state of healthcare data. One significant factor is the merger and acquisition renaissancethat the healthcare industry is undergoing, which according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service is expected to continue.

Healthcare organizations pursue merger and acquisitions for many reasons, including improving the ability to meet patient consumerization requirements, providing more