With the rise of remote working this year, vulnerabilities have been exposed in many organisations’ IT security protocols. Unauthorised devices, insecure networks, and good old-fashioned human error have been conflated by a dramatic leap in the volume of cyber attacks, meaning that improving security is now the top New Year’s resolution for many businesses.

The very same technological advances in cloud computing that have facilitated our ability to carry on working from home, have also helped boost the number cyber attacks. Hackers are now able to launch large scale automated attacks with very little effort (or, indeed, technical expertise), meaning that we can continue to expect increased threat from these criminals as we move into the future.

Cryptography: The Latest Trends

Cryptography is not a new concept – it has been used in various forms since the days of Ancient Egypt, as history buffs will attest. It is its newest incarnations that are creating serious excitement in the IT security sector. Specially developed for the increasing use of cloud services, this latest generation of cryptography could be the answer to ensuring a secure future for many organisations.

First of these trends is Homomorphic encryption. An extension of public-key or symmetric-key encryption, this looks set to become a popular security protocol in 2021, as it enables data to be remain encrypted even as it is being transmitted or stored in the cloud. Crucially, this means that cloud-based operations on Big Data collected by a business can be analysed without the need to decrypt it first, making this a much more secure approach to computation.

Privacy can be assured (excellent news for meeting vital GDPR compliance regulations), and data can be shared safely with third-party service providers. This makes it ideal not only for businesses, but also healthcare organisations dealing in sensitive personal information.

Public-key Infrastructure (PKI) is itself looking set to have a big year. It’s already one of the most common means of internet encryption, thanks to its ability to identify and authenticate any devices wishing to communicate online. It’s an integral part of a public internet browser, but with the rise of IoT (Internet of Things) technology, its value in the workplace is on the increase.

PKI is a great way to ascertain the authenticity of data received from a range of devices and to maintain privacy. It can also be used in conjunction with DevOps, creating a holistic, automated security perimeter for your business, which can be scaled easily according to your requirements.

This year saw the news from the big browsers that digital certificate duration will be reduced to 13 months. With this having come into force in September, it means that organisation’s will need to be mindful of this change in 2021. For CIOs and IT administrators, it means that key management must become a priority. Adopting an automated approach to encryption and key management is the best policy, as this will help teams to keep ahead of vital renewal dates.

The Future Is Quantum

Looking further ahead, the prospect of quantum computing cannot be ignored, nor can its potential to make current security protocols obsolete. Manufacturers are already developing their next releases with principles of quantum-safe cryptography. Affecting everything from driverless cars to satellites and medical devices, the key approach will be one of agility. This will involve new products being equipped with current encryption technology, but using a method which allows flexible adoption of future cryptographic innovations.

Quantum cryptography is itself a hot area of development, with the quantum mechanics principle of entanglement at its core. It’s certainly an exciting new horizon for cryptographic science.