Global cyber security investment to grow in 2021 following record-high breaches

Global cyber security investment to grow in 2021 following record-high breaches

12 billion records compromised and ransomware attacks rose by nearly 60 per cent in 2020

Credit: Dreamstime

Spending on cyber security around the world is expected to grow as high as 10 per cent this year, to US$60.2 billion, following claims that 2020 saw record high levels of data breaches, compromised records and ransomware attacks. 

This is according to research firm Canalys, which said its 10 per cent growth forecast falls under its current best-case scenario, which is expected to occur under the assumption that established trends continue. 

That prediction would see the first half of the year continue to be impacted by lockdown restrictions and furloughs, but vaccine approvals and vaccination programs would have a knock-on effect from the middle of the year onward. 

In its worst-case scenario, growth is still predicted at a reduced percentage of 6.6 per cent to US$57.7 billion, which is under the assumption of a more severe hit to the global economy from lockdowns and new variants of the coronavirus. These spending forecasts come as malicious actors ramped up their attempts to breach users, the firm claimed.

According to Canalys, 12 billion records were compromised last year, with known ransomware attacks rising by nearly 60 per cent, referring to the figures as reaching an "all-time high". This surge was attributed to misconfigurations of cloud-based databases and phishing campaigns that targeted unsecured and “poorly” trained remote workers. 

These numbers aren’t expected to diminish in 2021 either, as working and learning from home initiatives and accelerated digital transformation projects are expected to keep these trends going. 

“The biggest threats are always those not yet known. The discovery of the SUNBURST advanced persistent threat campaign at the end of 2020, stemming from malicious code injected into the widely used SolarWinds Orion IT management platform and subsequent infiltration into other systems, highlights this,” said Canalys chief analyst Matthew Ball.  

“Cybersecurity professional services engagements in response to this latest issue will be one of many factors contributing to sustained investment this year, especially in newer solutions to mitigate emerging threats.” 

Canalys’ research also found that cyber security budgets have been resilient over the last year, but some renewals and multi-year deals were negatively impacted by workforce reductions and furloughs, particularly in the hospitality, retail and transport sectors. 

While supply chain issues were felt in the hardware space earlier in 2020, these issues were largely alleviated as the year went on. Breaking down the subgroups of cyber security, web and email security were predicted to be the one of the top growth areas this year at 12.5 per cent in the best-case scenario. 

Meanwhile, the largest growth subgroup as forecast to be network security, which is anticipated to grow by 8 per cent in the best case. 

“Growth in add-on subscriptions providing new features, products to secure the cloud and delivered from the cloud, and upgrades to existing solutions will be key drivers for expansion,” Ball added. “The need for organisations to adopt multi-layered and holistic approaches, combining employee awareness training, data protection and backup, threat and vulnerability detection, and response will remain critical.”

Article updated on 21 January to reflect that the data is from Canalys and not GlobalData.

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