20/20 Hindsight Shows That Foresight Is Never 20/20
HWM Singapore|January 2021
’Tis the season…No, we’re not talking about the holidays — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and others. In the world of cyber, ’tis the season for speculation.
Taylor Armerding

Every year around this time, experts dust off their crystal balls and tell us what to expect in the coming year. Their forecasts flood tech websites from early November until January.

Which can be both useful and entertaining. But they can also be tricky — not every year plays out as expected. Sometimes the late, great Yogi Berra’s homespun wisdom prevails: “Predictions are hard, especially about the future.”

Especially about this year.

Indeed. I spent several hours combing through November 2019’s avalanche of 2020 cybersecurity prediction pitches from industry experts, and as you might guess, not a single one mentioned the biggest, most consequential event of the year — that the nation would be in the grip of a pandemic by March, with lockdowns of varying severity continuing to today and beyond.

Not one predicted that after the RSA conference in late February, every other security conference of the year would either be canceled or go virtual, since gatherings of more than a few dozen people indoors were forbidden. Not one predicted that WFH would become the most common acronym of the year, given that the large majority of workers who still had a job would be doing it from home for months on end, while their kids tried to adjust to remote learning.

Not one predicted that the travel budget of most security vendors (and just about every other company) would plunge to something close to zero. But of course, who could have imagined, let alone predicted, any of that? Sometimes the unexpected upends everything. There’s a reason the cliché refers to “20/20 hindsight” rather than foresight.

WHICH 2020 CYBERSECURITY PREDICTIONS FELL SHORT?

Ransomware

Some declared that the “ransomware window” would be closing in 2020. In reality, ZDNet was just one of multiple outlets reporting in the last couple of months that ransomware attacks have not only increased seven-fold since last year, but that they are evolving.

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