The year 2016 saw an alarming 40 percent increase in data breaches over the previous year. It’s not just smartphones and WiFi-enabled computers that pose a security risk. Everything from baby monitors and fitness trackers to vehicles and security systems are using various online platforms to operate and track information. As it stands, there are about 13.5 billion connected devices and systems, and that number is estimated to grow to 38.5 billion by the end of 2020.
With the onslaught of new devices sharing various forms of data, the likelihood of cyber threats shows no signs of slowing, and cybersecurity will become increasingly difficult. Everyone needs to remain vigilant against cyber threats, especially the four that emerged in earnest in 2017:
The term ransom is generally associated with someone being physically taken hostage in exchange for money. Now, virtual hijackers can hold your data captive by installing malicious software onto your systems and demanding payment to release it back to you. This form of cyber-crime is arguably the biggest threat in 2017. There were a whopping 638 million ransomware attacks in 2016—that’s 167 times more than the year before. The best way to protect systems from this threat is to ensure essential files are regularly backed up.
2. The Cloud
In an effort to streamline operations and save money, companies are moving away from on-premise servers and data storage. Sixty percent of all businesses use cloud computing for their IT-related operations and the pros far outweigh the cons.
While the Cloud minimizes some IT risks, it is not exempt since there are many compliance considerations for financial, health and legal data where liability does not transfer to cloud providers. In situations like these, companies are held accountable for any lost or compromised information, and they should carefully consider which data must remain on their on-premise servers and which can be stored by a provider. The Cloud, by far, provides better disaster recovery and security measures will only continue to improve.
3. The Internet of Things (IoT)
Cyber criminals are expected to look for new, less secure avenues to access valuable information. With the rise of IoT and more devices being connected online, hackers are actively attacking poorly protected medical units, smart home products and data acquisition systems that may be poorly protected, creating opportunities for attackers to cause damage, intercept critical data or interrupt service.
Employees are, often unknowingly, the weakest link in any cybersecurity strategy. Insider threats are a major concern for most organizations, from employees being phished to failing to follow procedures for backups and other security protocols. Scammers often target employees’ social media and personal emails to bypass network defenses in hopes of luring employees to open infected content that will release destructive malware or ransomware into work systems. Additionally, even if otherwise excellent security measures are in place, the lack of resources and training on implementing them can introduce risk.
To reduce the cyber threats within your company, talk with a professional who can help you identify and prioritize your security goals, assess your current systems and work closely with you to develop a plan that fits your needs. Contact an expert at Gordon Flesch Company for a free consultation to help develop a plan to reach your IT goals.