Disagreement is one of the defining trends of 2020. However, I think most of us would agree that this year hasn’t turned out to be the kind of year that many of us anticipated when we celebrated on December 31st.

Difficulty abounds on many fronts, reducing our ability to operate with precision and excellence.

For companies balancing concerns about employee health, adjusting to a new hybrid workforce, and responding to shifting consumer demands, the challenges are many.

Of course, in the digital age, cybersecurity is at the center of each of these priorities. A company’s data and IT infrastructure are some of its most valuable commodities, and bad actors and bad circumstances are threatening to undermine the integrity of both.

Therefore, knowing the most important risks in this environment is critical to developing a robust defensive posture. As we approach the start of a new year, this period allows us to refocus our efforts to ensure that we are ready to meet today’s problems and tomorrow’s opportunities.

Here are three areas where we should be focusing our efforts.

#1 Remote Work Vulnerabilities

The rapid transition to a hybrid workforce that includes both on-site and remote employees is one of the most discernible workplace changes this year. It also comes with a myriad of cybersecurity risks.

From isolated employees being more susceptible to scams to insider threats compromising critical data, remote work presents a unique cybersecurity environment that requires intentional steps to ward off disaster. Specifically, every organization should consider:

  • Implementing oversight technology that extends to remote workers.
  • Providing VPNs and other security-oriented services that protect data transfer connections.
  • Requiring employees to use company-issued technology for data access, transfer, and management.

#2 Threat Fatigue

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, much has been made about pandemic fatigue, our collective inability to remain vigilant in an environment where threats are exhaustingly persistent. Similarly, cybersecurity threat fatigue is pervasive in many organizations.

Today’s employees are continually inundated with new warnings and novel training programs intended to reduce the likelihood of a data breach. Often, these initiatives are warranted. The vast majority of cybersecurity incidents are preventable, caused by errors, accidents, and indifference.

However, it’s noteworthy that a recent study found a direct connection between employee stress and exhaustion and cybersecurity incidents. In response, companies need to develop an active approach to oversight and threat mitigation, relying on AI and automation to help reduce threat exposure and streamline the cybersecurity process.

#3 Budget Constraints

The pandemic’s economic repercussions are well-documented, and they will challenge companies to do more with less. While many organizations plan to increase their cybersecurity budgets in response to new and more prominent threats, some will inevitably need to make difficult concessions.

Even so, in 2020 and beyond, cybersecurity is a bottom-line issue that has to be met without compromise. It’s estimated that 60% of SMBs will go out of business in the months after a cybersecurity incident, and larger enterprises can expect multi-million dollar expenses in the wake of a data breach.

In response, every organization needs to make sure that it’s getting the most value from its cybersecurity suite without compromising critical features on prominent threats. In doing so, we recommend prioritizing:

  • The ability to automate as much as possible.
  • Advanced alerts that minimize stress on employees and IT personnel.
  • Comprehensive threat analysis and data loss prevention.

Cybersecurity will continue to be a top priority for companies of all sizes in every sector, but efficiency and effectiveness will be increasingly important in the weeks and months ahead.

As we approach the end of 2020, we’re operating in an environment without comparison. As such, it’s an opportunity to refocus on the most prominent vulnerabilities during this strange and difficult time. As the threat landscape continues to evolve, let’s focus on ensuring that our defense strategies continue to shift along with it.

This article was originally published on IT Security Central and reprinted with permission.