Taking the Lessons from 2021 into 2022: Data’s Potential and the Rise of Ransomware

Five technology industry experts from Skillsoft, Progress, Plutora, Zerto and Egnyte discover what the year ahead has in store.

No year in the tech industry is ever the same. Innovation and invention are constantly creating new technologies that change how organisations operate. 2021 has seen huge changes to the technology industry – from cloud migration and hybrid working to artificial intelligence (AI) and the skills gap. It has been a year that has forever altered how the tech industry works. So, what can we expect from 2022?

eWeek UK spoke to five technology industry experts to discover what the year ahead has in store.

Unlocking Data’s potential

In our increasingly digitised world, it is almost impossible for organisations to not realise the potential of their own data. Competitive advantage, valuable insights and streamlining operations are just a few of the benefits that businesses can gain from analysing their data.

“In 2022, we’ll see more businesses look to analytics, AI and machine learning in an attempt to unlock this potential,” says Don Mowbray, EMEA Lead, Technology & Development at Skillsoft. “Business leaders are now acutely aware that a better understanding of data can give them a competitive advantage against competitors and help them better exploit their key operational areas. The challenge for all businesses is the lack of skills available to support these initiatives. Our recent research revealed that three-quarters of IT decision-makers globally are facing a critical skills gap – an increase of 145% since 2016.”

“We are finally seeing AI functionality becoming accessible to everyone, with tagging of content now expected for content management,” adds Phil Dunlop, General Manager EMEA at Progress. “Customer Journey Mapping, central to any digital experience platform, is real and usable for 2022. It’s also an indication that buyers are getting educated and comfortable with advancing technology.”

“Leaders and early adopters in the market are beginning to choose solutions based on their ability to simulate processes and tool changes without having to implement them. That’s where we’ll see AI emerge in 2022,” furthers Bob Davis, CMO at Plutora. “In the DevOps world, Value Stream Management (VSM) is able to highlight past events, identify where the bottlenecks are and share visibility that helps to provide insights into the efficiency of an enterprise software factory. The early adopters that embrace AI are going to do so in order to take these insights to the next level in 2022, asking, ‘Where are the bottlenecks going to be in the future?’”

The Rise of Ransomware

A key trend of 2021 within the tech industry was the continued rise of ransomware. Global ransomware attacks increased by 151% in the first six months of the year alone. Other industries were specifically targeted, including the banking sector which experienced a huge 1,318% increase in such attacks.

“Attackers are getting smarter, and the payouts are getting larger and more widespread – two alarming trends. If you dissect the anatomy of recent attacks, you’ll see that cybercriminals are targeting companies that can be the most hurt, are the most defenseless, or are the most likely to pay out large sums of money,” explains Avi Raichel, COO at Zerto, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

“The ability to recover should be a focal point of any security plan. This will be defined by how quickly you can stand up your systems and get them running again. However, in our accelerated digital age largely brought on by COVID, too much can happen overnight or in three to five days for the traditional back up model to be good enough. Recovery solutions need to modernize to fit what the world has become. They need to be continuous and able to keep applications running 24/7 even in the face of disruption or threat. Ultimately protecting all of your data all of the time.”

Neil Jones, cybersecurity evangelist at Egnyte, agrees that Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) will continue to grow and become more sophisticated over the next year. By September of 2021, the number of publicly reported data breaches had already surpassed the total of the previous year by 17%. This is not a new problem and with its increasing frequency it’s important for our leaders to understand how profitable an industry RaaS has become, and the risks they may be facing.

“We cannot underestimate the intelligence of these RaaS gangs. They are constantly overcoming systems and evolving with new technological advancements. Don’t let your company be fooled by false notions or assumptions about cybercriminals, especially that paying ransom will magically restore access to your company’s files. Instead, stay proactive and vigilant as you create and manage your cybersecurity systems.”

Hello 2022

As we head into the new year, it is important that we reflect on 2021 and take with us the valuable lessons that we have learned. Staying one step ahead of the cybercriminals and being prepared for ransomware attacks will leave us in good stead to prevent any attempted attacks from successfully penetrating our systems and accessing important data.

Meanwhile, the prospects for AI in 2022 are huge as its accessibility to all organisations will only continue to grow as the year progresses. Whilst the skills gap in the tech industry continues to persist – and is further threatened by the ‘Great Resignation’ – this technology will undoubtedly be central in battling the obstacles that 2022 will inevitably throw our way.

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