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Editor's picks: Top cybersecurity articles of 2021

As we call it a wrap on 2021, SearchSecurity looks at the top articles from the last 12 months and their sweeping trends, including ransomware, career planning and more.

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to challenge cybersecurity professionals in 2021. While security teams were busy protecting hybrid work models, threat actors were even busier conducting ransomware attacks and targeting vulnerabilities.

It's no surprise then that many of the top trending articles on SearchSecurity this year were linked -- directly or inadvertently -- to security implications related to COVID-19. It's also no surprise that the pandemic didn't lighten up on cybersecurity professionals in its second year. Just as things began to swing back to normal, the Omicron variant forced many hybrid companies to revert back to fully remote models.

As the sun sets on 2021, discover the top SearchSecurity articles from the last 12 months to get an idea of where we've been and where we're going.

Endpoint security more important than ever

If 2020 was the year of remote work, 2021 was the year of hybrid work. Balancing in-office and remote employees, however, presented many challenges for IT and security teams. Endpoint security was one of the greatest concerns because remote employees are more likely to use insecure networks and devices at home.

SearchSecurity readers were particularly interested in learning about extended detection and response (XDR) for endpoints. XDR tools give organizations greater visibility of their networks and help security teams detect and manage endpoint threats.

Security awareness training was another sought-after topic to improve endpoint security. Insider threats -- whether accidental or malicious -- can cause serious damage to an organization. Many users turned to this quiz to test their knowledge on creating a security awareness training program.

An unprecedented year for ransomware

Like 2020, 2021 was another a massive year for ransomware. A record-breaking number of attacks resulted in enormous financial damages and major disruptions. The average cost of a ransomware attack on an American company, including damages and ransom payments, increased from $760,000 in 2020 to $1.85 million in 2021, according to Sophos. The biggest ransomware targets included critical infrastructures, healthcare systems and schools.

The expanding threat landscape, coupled with the cybersecurity skills shortage, left many organizations ill prepared for these attacks. Learn more about the threat, and read expert advice on how to prevent, detect and recover from an attack in our complete guide to ransomware.

Ransomware attacks in 2021
Top ransomware attacks on American organizations in the first half of 2021

Focusing on the fallout of the SolarWinds hack

News of a Russian-backed hacker group targeting SolarWinds broke in December 2020, and its fallout continued into 2021. Critical infrastructures and government agencies were affected in the supply chain attack, with attackers using data stolen from SolarWinds to target other large companies and organizations.

Learn more about the SolarWinds attack and its impact in our SolarWinds breach news center, as well as cybersecurity lessons to learn from the attack and why the hack has CISOs on edge.

Rising enterprise threats continue

While ransomware dominated headlines in 2021, there were other concerns also top of mind for security pros.

Cyber threats become more sophisticated, powerful and damaging every passing year. Readers were eager to learn about the top 10 information security threats IT teams must be aware of, such as insiders, viruses, worms and botnets, as well as how to prevent them.

Cloud security was also researched often this year. There's often a gray area between where a provider's cloud security responsibilities end and where the customer's responsibilities pick up. The top 11 cloud security challenges include data breaches, insecure APIs and account hijacking.

Graphic with top cloud security challenges
Top cloud security challenges

The dark web was another rising security concern in 2021. The platform, which cyber gangs use as an anonymous marketplace to sell stolen data and malware as a service, feeds into enterprise concerns surrounding privacy and data security. Experts offered SearchSecurity readers their perspectives on the security implications of the dark web in 2021.

Cybersecurity careers top of mind

The demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals grew in 2021 as the skills gap continued to grow. SearchSecurity readers took particular interest in career content this year, with many taking advantage of the lockdowns to improve their security knowledge with this practice quiz for the CompTIA Security+ exam.

Readers were also looking into the top cybersecurity interview questions and answers, signaling many may be ready to explore a career in cybersecurity.

Chart with the most valuable cybersecurity certifications
Most valuable cybersecurity certifications

Certifications were also a hot topic as they can advance job prospects by highlighting an applicant's skills to employers. Get started by reading this list of the top 10 cybersecurity certifications. And, because more and more enterprises are using cloud services, knowledge on cloud security can help separate applicants from other job candidates. Learn about the best cloud security certifications here.

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