What Will Cybersecurity Look Like in 2021?

WALLIX's New Year Predictions

2020 marked a turning point in the transformation of our society. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly changed our lives, forcing us to rethink how we work and how we interact, making us more digitally dependent than ever before. In the face of this emergency, organizations have turned to the implementation of tools to facilitate remote working (videoconferencing, collaborative work applications, the cloud, etc.) to the detriment of cybersecurity. As a result, the second half of 2020 saw numerous cyber attacks, in all sectors, with the risk of business disruption at play.

In 2021, in order to support these new ways of working, users and businesses will need to make cybersecurity an essential investment criterion, as highlighted by leading market analysts such as KuppingerCole and Gartner. For us at WALLIX, 2021 is the year that will mark the beginning of changes in the digital world, particularly with regards to a change in the perception of users: the notion of trust will go hand in hand with profits.

Prediction 1: The standardization of telework will lead to the deployment of the “Zero Trust” cyber security architecture

Before the health crisis, organizations had a different approach to remote work. Overnight, with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in effect, it became a standard. Today, even the most reticent companies are taking a fresh look at this practice, which will become firmly entrenched in organizations of all sizes. There will be a Before- and After Covid-19. However, “telework” should not rhyme with “danger to data”, which is, of course, the new gold of our economy and the value of a company. This year we will see the widespread deployment of “Zero Trust” cybersecurity architectures, in order to control all access to data. This is the only way today for organizations to know who has access to what, when, where, and from which endpoint? For “telework” to sound more like “regaining control of your data,” we must pose the question, who do we entrust our data to? Successful standardization of remote working can only be achieved with digital tools developed by companies that are fully aware of the importance of protecting the data they carry.

Prediction 2: Flexibility and agility: towards an as-a-service cybersecurity model

To meet the urgent needs related to widespread remote work, organizations have relied on SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions, which are fast and easy to deploy through the cloud. To adapt to these new tools, cybersecurity itself must evolve towards a more flexible and agile model, and become “as-a-service” in turn. Even if this approach is not new, it is now indispensable. Very quickly, organizations will have to take the lessons learned from the health crisis and include cyber risk in their own risk management plans. In order to adapt and maintain business continuity in all circumstances, organizations will move towards a mixed IT infrastructure (on premise and Cloud) on one hand, while also seeking cloud-based authentication, identity, and access management solutions on the other. More generally, in 2021 there will be a surge in demand for managed cybersecurity services that enable companies to outsource IT system security. As a result, the company will benefit from optimized cybersecurity at all times and in all places, while complying with regulatory requirements.

Prediction 3: The emergence of a European digital trust space in 2021

In the race for digital technology and equipment, Europe will soon have to create a trusted European digital space, with the guarantees of independence and sovereignty to businesses and citizens. While the latest reports from the EU’s cybersecurity agency (ENISA) note an increase in cyber threats with major economic repercussions, the protection of personal and non-personal data is paramount with the upcoming developments of 5G, AI and IoT technologies. The emergence of a third digital path that will guarantee the competitiveness of our businesses, digital access for all and strategic autonomy will become existential priorities for our democracies in an increasingly digital world.

This will require the creation of a standardized legislative and regulatory framework for “processing and hosting the data of Europeans in Europe” (Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Market Act (DMA), GDPR), the emergence of a range of trusted digital products and services that are certified and recognized by European countries (such as GAIA X), and finally the creation of multinational cybersector industrial players.

Prediction 4: Emergence of a digital culture and digital risk

Along with eco-responsibility, digitization is likely to be the predominant business challenge for years to come. This implies the creation of new professions, with a profound impact on all economic sectors, creating considerable opportunities for growth and employment. Following the creation of a new strategic sector called “Security Industries” in 2020, focusing in particular on cybersecurity and IoT, secure Cloud, and digital identity, this sector will be a pillar of the European industrial revival, with the aim of upgrading all the services that are essential to the smooth running of business, industry, and societies.

In concrete terms, a significant part of investment in the digital transformation of businesses and government services will need to encourage the adoption of innovations that comply with European digital standards in terms of data protection (GDPR, DSA, DMA) and critical infrastructures (NIS2, etc.).  The resilience of our societies and the evolution of our skills will require a culture of digital trust and cyber risk, with the emergence of multiple new and multi-level training and awareness raising from a very young age, starting from children at school through post-graduate programs.

Prediction 5: Cybersecurity by Design: the performance engine of the future

Too long seen as a costly constraint by designers of industrial tools that incorporate digital innovations, cybersecurity thought upstream (“by design”) will be considered a key competitive advantage for new offerings. Cybersecurity By Design will be a way for manufacturers to enhance the value of their expertise through reliable, trustworthy offerings for their customers, and sustainable – and secure – in digital environments. By embedding cybersecurity from the design stage, manufacturers will be able to increase the value of their offerings from conception and improve their brand image. Finally, offering digital tools with embedded cybersecurity means demonstrating digital responsibility (DNR): the protection of customer and user data is becoming a standard.

Prediction 6: AI will continue its rise in cybersecurity thanks to data

As the scale of digital risks has evolved, and with many specialists predicting a major digital crash, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be used to complement human intelligence in order to anticipate cyber attacks and react more quickly. Thanks to the multiplication of Security Operation Centers (SOCs), and intra-company and international data repositories (CyLON), Machine Learning and behavioral analytics will become an integral part of cybersecurity solutions in 2021. These technologies will be used to detect cyber threats and malicious behavior in real time, and prevent the spread of attacks in organizations and networks (e.g. malware, ransomware, crypto-viruses, etc.) The widespread use of AI in digital tools will enable real-time adaptation of cybersecurity strategies and solutions to different uses, particularly in under-equipped SMEs, and finally, to supply insurers with data to extend insurance policies to the digital world.


2020 was a difficult year for both business and individuals. The changes and challenges we’ve faced will have permanently altered the way we work, meet, and live. In the coming year and beyond, we will see the impacts of these changes and the importance of cybersecurity, remote access, and data protection will continue to grow.