2020 was an unpredictable year, and while things are looking up with the rollout of the first COVID-19 vaccines, 2021 is likely to have its own twists and turns. To help organizations prepare for whatever 2021 may bring, PCI Pal’s Geoff Forsyth is here with his predictions and considerations for the New Year.

 

  1. WFH Security Woes: After a year of working in their pajamas, many companies around the world will make the temporary move to remote work permanent in 2021. But for industries like contact centers that weren’t built for homeworking prior to COVID-19, new data security considerations will be necessary to ensure continued security at home. These include improving the encryption of data and descoping their environments as much as possible from sensitive cardholder data.
  2. More Bad News for Travel and Hospitality – If They Don’t Prepare: 2020 was difficult for the travel and hospitality industries as many hunkered down and canceled their travel plans. But the struggles of this year will be nothing compared to what they’ll face in 2021 if they don’t step up data security efforts. As people come out of hibernation, these sectors will experience heavy traffic, taking in a huge flood of personal and payment card data. But a squeeze on resources and surge in demand for operational resources may leave them under-prepared for opportunistic cybercriminals looking to capitalize on potential vulnerabilities.
  3. High Risks for Retailers: The retail sector will have to keep a close eye on data security, too. According to recent PCI Pal research, 70% of consumers plan to continue shopping online for some or most of their retail needs even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Retailers will need to take extra steps to secure online and other digital shopping channels in 2021 or risk suffering a data breach. With 70% of consumers reporting they’ll stop shopping with a brand for several months or even permanently in the event of a breach, this could have long-term consequences for revenue and customer loyalty.
  4. Something Smells Phishy: Phishing and social engineering attacks were rampant in 2020, with cybercriminals taking advantage of COVID-19 fears and remote work to steal sensitive data from vulnerable personnel. This trend is likely to continue into 2021, and unfortunately, data breaches are likely to rise with them as bad actors begin to make use of the stolen data. Companies should ensure their employees are continuing to practice safe data security behaviors, choosing long passwords or passphrases, verifying links and attachments before clicking on them and exercising extra caution when sharing any sensitive financial or personal information online or over the phone.
  5. A Little Privacy, Please: Privacy regulations, in some countries, are still weaker than they need to be yet somehow, many organizations are still struggling to clear the current bar. In 2021, it’s time for a compliance refresh. While the ways in which companies collect and use data should still be the same, they likely need to enact new security measures and tools to ensure employees and compliance officers can handle and access data securely whether at home or in the office.

 

We hope that 2021 will be a much happier, safer and healthier year. But just as we must continue to be vigilant about COVID-19 precautions, we must also watch out for new cyber threats. Ready to take on a cybersecurity resolution for the New Year? Contact PCI Pal today to learn how our secure payment solutions can help.