However you look at it, 2020 has been one of the strangest years ever. Many of us were able to work from home for the first time, online shopping became the norm, and for long periods of time, video calling was the only way we could talk to our loved ones.

So what can we expect in the new year?

An increase in scammer activity

Security researchers have recently discovered a significant hacking that has affected most of the biggest companies in the US and beyond. A popular network monitoring tool used by these organisations was compromised by Russian hackers in May – but the compromise has only just been discovered.

For the past seven months, hackers have been stealing data completely undetected. The hacking is so sophisticated that many of the affected companies are not sure if they have lost data – or even if they have managed to lock the hackers out of their networks.

What does this mean for you? If the stolen data contains personal information (passwords, credit card numbers, email addresses etc), hackers may be able to carry out identity theft or fraud. You must be vigilant over the coming months for signs that you may be a victim.

It may be worth spending a few hours over the Christmas holidays changing your passwords and setting up a password manager. If hackers have managed to steal your personal data, it will be unusable.

password manager Panda Security

More attacks on your devices

As governments continue to struggle to contain Covid infections, many of us are likely to be working from home for some months yet. For hackers this offers even more opportunities to try and break into corporate computer networks; if they can take control of your devices, they have a backdoor into company systems – even when working from home.

You almost certainly use a VPN to secure your connection to company systems when working from home. Or maybe an unsecured remote desktop connection (RDC) to the computer on your desk in the office.

The VPN encrypts data as it moves between your office and your computer, making it impossible for hackers to intercept. But if they can break into your computer first, they can piggyback onto the network using your VPN connection – or steal your RDC logon details.

In 2021 it will become increasingly important to use a VPN for all your activities, not just work. Using a personal VPN helps to protect your privacy as you use the internet, and to help block suspicious websites and traffic, reducing the risk of your computer being taken over by hackers.

Installing antimalware will help to further protect your devices. Preventing hackers from installing viruses and trojans will stop them getting hold of your personal data – or breaking into your work.

2021 – the same but different

In terms of cybersecurity, 2021 will probably be much the same as 2020. Hackers will develop smart new ways to attack your devices, and security firms like Panda will find ways to counter them. And like every year, the best way to protect yourself is to be prepared and aware that someone, somewhere is always trying to steal your data.

To find out more, take a look at the Panda Security blog which has hundreds of useful tips and tricks for helping stay safe online.