As we approach the final quarter of a truly historic year, it’s no surprise the last eight months have seen cyber trends emerge that will have lasting effects on the world’s technology ecosystem – but what if these aggressive changes were needed all along? From artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to decentralized digital identities, here is a look back at some major cyber trends of 2020 for businesses and end-users.

Prioritizing corporate data protection

From a business perspective, even before the pandemic altered our work landscape, protecting data was a hot topic with more than 7,000 data breaches reported in 2019 alone.[1] In today’s increasingly virtual world, one trend we have seen is the increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks businesses are facing. Regardless of their sector or size, this threat is forcing data protection to be taken more seriously.

Unfortunately for many businesses, the rapid shift to a remote workforce resulted in cybersecurity taking a backseat to business continuity. With employees requiring access to data from different networks and connections, sometimes permanently, the trend of organizations actively trying to understand how and where corporate data is being accessed and stored while prioritizing its security is one we anticipate will continue into the foreseeable future. This is going to further push the priority of digital identity to know who is operating the device with access to your corporate data.

Implementing a hybrid approach to cybersecurity

AI and ML are playing a critical role in cybersecurity, transforming how businesses identify and prevent attacks – particularly malware – while processing data at an incredible speed and scale. Although it can be easy to speculate that AI and ML will eventually replace IT teams, these tools will not eradicate the need for human ability. The implementation of hybrid human and AI/ML solutions is a trend we have seen emerge in recent months.

AI and ML can be leveraged better to detect existing threats as well as identify malicious programs or elements that would have previously gone undetected. The human component still ultimately remains an important part of this process as we are the ones who need to build these models and provide analysis to identify issues and determine the best way forward – human intuition and insight are enhanced by AI and ML, not replaced by it. This is why solutions with a hybrid approach have become increasingly important in 2020. Looking ahead, we expect to see significant impact and change within the industry as AI and ML continue to evolve.

Understanding the importance of decentralized digital ID solutions

From interacting with friends and family to shopping, banking and signing legal documents, the lives of end-users have moved online in a different way than we have seen before – one that leaves behind an increasingly large digital footprint. As a result, end-users are beginning to appreciate the importance of decentralized digital ID solutions that leverage new technologies to better protect their online assets, including blockchain-based solutions such as our Verified.Me network. Control of personal data and accountability for those who use it is the next wave of innovation.

As the pandemic continues, we expect the level of participation in networks like Verified.Me will increase for businesses, government services and end-users. The privacy and security that well-implemented blockchain solutions can provide comes with benefits appreciated by all stakeholders, such as convenience, safety, privacy and exponential time and cost savings. These, combined with an increasing demand of end-users who want to be in control of their data with strong consent and protection models, are why we anticipate more businesses and government services to adopt decentralized digital ID solutions to benefit end-users in the months to come. Data that comes with high assurance of integrity and the identity of the person presenting the data ultimately leads to better privacy and reduced need to acquire user data in volume, as with today’s methods.

Expecting more user-friendly infrastructure

The public was already using technology well before the mass migration to digital, meaning expectations have already been set by the best-designed, easiest-to-consume services of everyday life. But now that even more end-users are relying on technology for work, peer-to-peer interaction and everything in between, infrastructure that can eliminate additional login screens and passwords has become essential to meet the needs of today’s end-user while still ensuring data security.

Government Sign-In by Verified.Me, formerly SecureKey Concierge, is a good example of this as users can access government services using their existing banking credentials with a Trusted Sign-In Partner – an approved digital credential that they already know and trust, without the exchange of additional passwords or personal information. In addition, Government Sign-In by Verified.Me was built with Triple Blind® capabilities at its core, meaning no party in the service – Sign-In Partner, government service nor the network operator – knows from where or to where a user is signing in. Passwords and secondary authentication measures are becoming increasingly burdensome and insecure, and user-friendly infrastructure alternatives is a trend that is convenient, secure and here to stay. Hiding security from end users is a better user experience and reduces the attack surface that needs to be managed.

As the world becomes more digitized and affected by ever-mounting fraud and privacy concerns, protection assurance is becoming a crucial consideration for businesses and end-users alike. Throughout many of the cyber trends that have emerged since January – and these are just a few – a common theme of security persists. COVID-19 has inflicted many wounds since its initial breakout, but it has also accelerated a level of cybersecurity awareness that will be essential in driving the global technology ecosystem forward. We need trusted identity than ever during pandemics; for healthcare and for the rest of the economy, too.

To learn more about SecureKey’s offerings and contribution to digital ID, please join us virtually at the upcoming IdentityNORTH Ottawa Symposium on October 28 and 29, 2020. Tickets are available here.

[1] https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/cyber-defenders-2020/