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Embracing the New Normal (and Abnormal): Rising Security Challenges on the Digital Frontier


Wholly understanding today’s digital architecture can’t be done in the time of a single elevator pitch. Just think; technologies-wise, in June of 2007, Apple’s first-generation iPhone hit the U.S. market. Time is sort of a weird soup, so (depending on who’s asked), 2007 might feel like 16 years ago or it might feel like 60 years ago. It’s all relative. Still, the leap industries have collectively made between the iPhone’s debut and now have breached ever-exponential levels of progress. Think about where AI is now, where the Internet of Things is now. It’s a lot to process.

Needless to say, the digital landscapes unto which we’ve forged have transformed the ways in which we work and live, rewiring and reshaping our modes of communication and collaboration. But double-edged swords strike both ways; our advancements have also opened new vulnerabilities that threat actors are increasingly leveraging to totally circumvent traditional security measures in order to invade and take advantage of our daily digital jaunts.

Enter Abnormal Security, a provider of behavioral AI-based cloud security. Earlier this May, Abnormal shone a spotlight on many of technology-rooted issues via the release of its report (one based on a survey conducted by Enterprise Strategy Group, or ESG). Abnormal’s goal was to gauge how today’s organizations are dealing with emerging threat vectors due to rises in cloud-based communications and digital collaboration applications.

The report’s long-story-short:

As shifts towards remote and distributed work models continue, organizations become more reliant on diverse digital communication tools. At a glance, an astonishing 47% of the report’s respondents indicated they are currently using between six to 10 separate communication and collaboration tools concurrently. Among these tools, top video conferencing apps appear to be the most utilized tool (80%), followed by email (77%) and messaging (71%).

Yet, the convenience and productivity boosts these tools offer come with downsides; it’s that double-edged sword again, i.e. increased vulnerability to cyber attacks. Threat actors continue to scour new avenues for attack through our communication channels.

Abnormal’s report also highlighted that:

More than two-thirds of respondents expressed concerns about attackers exploiting communication and collaboration channels (beyond email, even) to bypass security controls.

More than half of respondents reported having experienced weekly or even daily social engineering attacks across their tools.

Let’s just call a spade a spade; that can be scary.

Additionally, ransomware, phishing and malware deployment were identified as the top three threats that respondents fear will infiltrate their tools for communication and collaboration.

"Most are the same types of attacks that were previously targeted at email, creating an opportunity to extend and leverage proven email security controls with an expanded view across multiple channels," said Dave Gruber, principal analyst at ESG.

Fortunately, organizations are responding to these challenges by prioritizing the real strengthening of securities across communication and collaboration channels. More than a quarter of respondents (27%) considered this their main priority, with another 54% ranking it within their top three priorities.

Mike Britton, Chief Information Security officer at Abnormal, highlighted the need for threat detection capabilities beyond the email inbox. "IT and security leaders need to ensure they’re employing scalable threat detection capabilities beyond the email inbox, and this is precisely what Abnormal is delivering today," he said. "Now, customers can have comprehensive protection across their broader communications landscape to prevent multi-channel attacks and those that target collaboration platforms for their initial entry."

The demand for enhanced security solutions in the realm of digital communication and collaboration is a growing trend. A study by Global Market Insights predicts that the cybersecurity market size will surpass $400 billion by 2026, driven by digital solutions’ adoptions in businesses, thus the subsequent needs to protect droves of sensitive data from evolving and sophisticated threats.

Abnormal Security's report underscores the importance of tightly securing our communication and collaboration tools in today's age of digitization. As myriad digital workspaces continue to grow, so too must our approaches to cybersecurity; measures robustly proactive and reactive that safeguard our dynamic digital landscapes.

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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