In 2021, security professionals tackled a myriad of issues to keep their organizations and the public safe and secure. From large-scale data breaches affecting cyber and physical security to the effects of COVID-19 in various sectors, Security’s top news stories of 2021 represent the wide range of issues mitigated by security leaders.

The Security team compiled the ten most popular news stories from the past twelve months, offering a look into how security leaders’ responses to the challenges of 2021 evolved and shaped the industry.

  1. G4S acquisition comes to an end; Allied now 7th largest employer in world: Allied Universal officially completed its acquisition of British private security firm G4S — ending what was a long takeover journey with multiple bids from companies around the globe.
  2. 2021 breaks the record for security vulnerabilities: The U.S. cybersecurity vulnerabilities record was broken in early December 2021. The US-CERT Vulnerability database has recorded 18,376 vulnerabilities as of December 8, which exceeded the 2020 record of 18,351.
  3. COVID-19 exposure: The risk of an elevator ride: As businesses continued to reopen and plan for the future, a study conducted by Purdue University found that an elevator ride, with the proper precautions, can be safer than outdoor dining.
  4. 200 million Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn users’ scraped data exposed: Chinese start-up Socialarks suffered a massive data breach that exposed more than 400GB of personal data, including information from several high-profile celebrities and social media influencers, according to Safety Detectives.
  5. FBI asks Americans to help identify rioters at US Capitol Building: The Federal Bureau of Investigation sought tips and digital media depicting rioting and violence in the U.S. Capitol Building and surrounding area in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, when violent Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building, pushed past barricades and forced themselves inside the complex.
  6. Data breaches in the first half of 2021 exposed 18.8 billion records: There were 1,767 publicly reported breaches in the first six months of 2021, which exposed a total of 18.8 billion records, according to a Risk-Based Security 2021 Mid Year Data Breach QuickView Report.
  7. Lessons learned in healthcare security during COVID-19: Bonnie Michelman, Executive Director of Police, Security and Outside Services at Mass General and winner of the 2021 SIA Insightful Practitioner Award, spoke about the hospital's response to COVID-19 and the lessons she and the security team learned from the pandemic during a talk at the Security Industry Association (SIA) Securing New Ground conference.
  8. Hacker breaks into Florida water treatment facility, changes chemical levels: Hackers broke into a water treatment facility in Florida, gained access to an internal ICS platform and changed chemical levels, making the water unsafe to consume.
  9. Disinformation campaigns against brands are flourishing across social media: Disinformation, long used to spread and advance political ideologies, was used to damage corporations and economies in 2021, as reported by a Network Contagion Research Institute study.
  10. Why physical security professionals need to focus on risk management: Alex Jadrich, the Security Operations Manager at the Denver Zoo, outlined how physical security professionals can proactively mitigate risk by instituting an enterprise risk management program in their organization. In a presentation at the IFCPP's 22nd Annual Conference, Jadrich highlighted the benefits of enterprise risk management for physical security.

Check out Security magazine's top web exclusive stories of 2021 here.