Devin Partida writes about cyber security and technology. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of

IT professionals know that cyber security has always been a critical consideration. Now, as more businesses embrace digital transformation, it’s arguably more crucial than ever. Cyber crime has also showed tremendous growth in the past year, heightening this issue.

Cyber crime changes as it grows, with criminals adapting to the developing IT landscape. Consequently, cyber security measures must likewise keep up with these threats. With that in mind, here are six of the most pressing cyber security risks of 2021.

1. Cloud Vulnerabilities

Between January and April of 2020, cloud adoption grew by 50% across all industries. Many businesses accelerated their cloud deployments to enable remote work, and cyber criminals have noticed. Since this transition was so quick, companies may have misconfigured assets, forgotten to set up strong passwords or made other mistakes.

Cloud storage isn’t inherently vulnerable, but it requires unique considerations and actions. Companies need compatible, ideally cloud-native security tools and more proactive monitoring. Zero-trust architecture can also help secure cloud deployments.

2. Phishing

Phishing is far from new, but it continues to be a threat because it takes advantage of every company’s greatest weakness: people. Since more employees now work remotely, they may become complacent, inattentive or distracted. This makes them more susceptible to phishing attacks.

The most effective way to prevent successful phishing attempts is to teach employees how to spot and respond to it. Holding regular refreshers on these practices will help keep security at the forefront of workers’ minds.

3. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks grew sevenfold between 2019 and 2020, and they’ll likely continue to rise. Data has become an indispensable part of many businesses, which means ransomware is more profitable than previously. Ransomware attacks can be devastating, so companies should prepare for them.

Most ransomware attacks start as phishing attempts, so better employee training can go a long way. Some companies may want to consider insurance, which mitigates the costs of a breach should they fall victim to ransomware.

4. Insider Threats

Insider threats are growing at an alarming rate, demanding companies’ attention in 2021. These aren’t always malicious. In fact, more often than not, they’re the result of mistakes. Last year, breaches due to errors were more common than malware, second only to hacking.

Training can prevent many insider threats, but businesses can go a step further, too. Network segmentation and stricter access controls will limit how destructive one mistake can be. A zero-trust model may be necessary for companies with highly sensitive data.

5. DDoS Attack

Like phishing, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are an old attack method that has seen considerable growth lately. Increased online traffic and more reliance on digital data have made companies vulnerable to these attacks. DDoS for hire is also rising, giving cyber criminals more readily available resources.

Network monitoring can help identify these attacks early on, facilitating faster responses. Setting up network redundancies and employing load balancing techniques can make it more difficult for a DDoS attack to succeed.

6. Endpoint Threats

Internet of Things (IoT) adoption is skyrocketing across multiple industries, and these endpoints can act as backdoors for hackers. Remote workers may have these likely unsecured gadgets in their homes. With attack surfaces growing, businesses need to pay more attention to their endpoint security.

If possible, hosting IoT devices on separate networks from other devices can limit their use as a backdoor. Providing all workers with up-to-date anti-malware and endpoint management software can help further. Remember to update this software frequently in order to patch old vulnerabilities.

Stay Safe From These Threats

The recent rise in cyber crime is alarming, but it doesn’t mean businesses can’t stay safe. When companies are aware of the threats they face, they can take the necessary steps to defend themselves.

These six cyber security risks are only a fraction of the threats businesses may face, but they represent the most damaging trends. If companies do nothing else, they should defend against them.