If there is one thing we have seen a lot of in 2017, it was cybersecurity threats and attacks. From “Russia’s” influence in the United States’ last Presidential election to the Equifax security breach, cybersecurity has been a hot topic discussed in the business and technology world.
As technology advances, people begin to rely on it more and more, all while the opportunities to attack software and steal information proliferate. However, there are some positive trends happening in the cybersecurity front that businesses in 2018 need to watch for.
1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence is already playing a role in technology and finance businesses as well as in other industries. One thing it will help with in 2018 is cybersecurity. The battle with cybersecurity and hackers moves quickly, but artificially intelligent machines can move even more quickly and can help predict and identify attacks.
Machine learning models can evolve as cybersecurity threats evolve. Humans are slow and may not be able to detect cybersecurity breaches as well as machines can. Cybersecurity will be on the top of the agenda for artificial intelligence and machine learning in 2018.
2. General Data Protection Regulation
The European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation will be a quickly-moving trend in 2018 and is set to become an official regulation by May.
The new GDPR explains how companies need to process, store and secure the information and personal data of EU citizens. Infringements of the regulation will result in fines. Non-EU companies prevent breaches of information by providing security for employee’s personal devices. If your business has their employees use their own devices, simply securing them can prevent a number of cybersecurity threats. If employee devices are breached, that puts company data in jeopardy.
Other ways to prevent cybersecurity attacks include monitoring issues with software, requiring a strict password for devices and using a security partner. You should also use data encryption and storage. Non-encrypted information is at a huge risk because anyone can see it, while encrypted information can be accessed only by someone with a password.
3. Proactivity When It Comes to Ransomware
Ransomware has been a growing threat for years. The FBI reported there have been 4,000 ransomware attacks every day since the beginning of 2016.
The WannaCry ransomware attack occurred in May of 2017, when a ransomware worm spread rapidly across computer networks. It infected Windows computers by encrypting files on a PC’s hard drive and then making them impossible for users to access. It then requested a payment in bitcoin in order to decrypt it.
That attack highlighted the need to back up our data regularly, keep patching and updating systems and strengthening real-time defenses. Organizations will and must do these simple things to help prevent the impact of ransomware and its rapid spread.
4. Handling of Breaches
The Equifax data breach was an example to all on how not to deal with a data breach. While it is impossible to eliminate breaches entirely, what a company does to deal with the aftermath is crucial and telling.
An organization has the power to help those affected and to lessen the blow of a breach, but only by acting appropriately afterwards. Equifax serves as a good example of what not to do. Do not delay disclosure, because it will eventually come out. The longer you wait, the worse the PR blow will be.
Another example of what not to do is misdirect potential victims. These people are unsure of what happened and do not know what to expect in the future. Misdirecting potential victims angers them and reflects poorly on your company.
Failing to patch a known vulnerability is the worst. When customers and the public find out that your company knew of the vulnerability and chose not to do anything, the aftermath will be very devastating to your company.
5. Improving the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a weak point for defenses — particularly as we roll out more sensor-packed and internet-connected devices. These devices lack security features that are crucial to protect against attacks. They are not properly configured and may often rely on default passwords that are too easy for hackers to guess.
One trend in 2018 will be to properly secure the Internet of Things to make it less vulnerable.
6. More Skilled Workers
If there is one improvement that’s crucial to the growth of the cybersecurity industry, it’s an increase in skilled workers. There is a shortage of people who are skilled with cybersecurity and can understand the needs of organizations and businesses. Training programs and outsourcing of employees will happen in 2018 as cybersecurity grows in importance.
7. Developing a Common Language
More and more organizations are coming together to work on cybersecurity. As more people and companies get involved, in order to collaborate effectively, there needs to be a common language, like the NIST’s cybersecurity framework.
8. State-Sponsored Cyberattacks
We have already seen state-sponsored attacks last year and that trend will continue to rise. Zenedge is a cloud-based web application that predicts countries will use cybersecurity attacks as the main means of visiting harm upon one another in the coming years.
As Technology Expands, So Do the Opportunities for Attacks
We all enjoy the easy and accessible technology we have today. From desktop computers to smartphones, we store our information everywhere and appreciate the convenience of it. However, one thing this last year has shown is that our information is not always as safe and secure as we think.
Businesses need to protect consumers — and there are several easy ways to do so. By following the trends and procedures listed above, companies can deter attacks. Cyberattacks may never be completely eliminated, but companies can take precautions and know what to do if an attack does occur.