As a business owner you may not be able to predict the future, but you can make a best guess by analyzing trends and fortifying your critical business data against potential security breaches. With a rapid surge in cloud computing, the growing complexity of technology platforms, and an increasing amount of business data stored digitally, cyber vulnerabilities have become a leading concern for the modern business owner. According to McAfee, by the time we arrive in 2020, the amount of data held in locations that are potentially susceptible to cyber-attacks will grow by a magnitude of five.
TOP CYBERCRIMES IN 2016
As cyber attackers become more sophisticated and the rewards of such criminal behavior become more enticing, attacks will undoubtedly continue to rise. As business in cyberspace becomes more popularized, it is developing into the perfect venue for new and innovative methods of exploiting vulnerabilities. Here are a few of the top cybercrimes expected to peak in the year 2016.
Eye-catching data breaches are sure to continue into the next year. Companies large and small are vulnerable to security issues, but those with longstanding reputations and a large customer base with a lot to lose will surely come under attack. These types of breaches can cause unprecedented amounts of financial and reputational damage, as seen in recent years. Cases of protected health information breaches involving both Primera Blue Cross and Anthem, the reputation-damaging hacking of Sony Pictures, and the credit card information breaches affecting Staples, Home Depot, Chase, and Target have achieved significant notoriety and have proven that even big business can be vulnerable to cybercrimes.
Just because we’ve all seen an example of a poorly written phishing scam doesn’t mean that they have all been retired. As cybercriminals become more skilled and the general public becomes savvier, phishing scams will continue to become more complex and much more difficult to identify. E-scams, such as email forgery, are still in rotation, as well as new scams for guaranteed loans, and password or email verification notices. The difference is that the delivery is becoming more sophisticated, and the authenticity of such scams is strikingly realistic.
As malware, adware, and spyware become more easily detectable, cyber attackers also become more highly skilled constructors of undetectable assaults. New threats such as hijacking remote control protocols, credential theft, and fileless attacks will begin to show their strength in 2016, as quiet hacking becomes a new wave of threats that can often go unnoticed.
Another dangerous type of attack comes from sleepers, or infections that are slow to activate or do not interfere with the user’s performance, allowing them to go undetected for long periods of time. Even more alarming are dummy threats that pull the attention of security personnel, allowing the real threat to infiltrate the system.
Syncing and sharing data is a wonderful way to stay connected regardless of your location. But this convenience comes with additional security risks. The additional data floating around outside of secured networks will entice cybercriminals to pursue vulnerabilities accessible through cloud computing.
Online advertising networks will have their own bit of trouble to worry about, as malicious advertisements find their way into legitimate web pages. Because large advertising sites are often trusted implicitly by users, malicious advertisements that lead consumers to wrongfully submit payment data are quickly beginning to gain ground.
The popularity of mobile devices is both a blessing and a curse in the realm of technology. As a booming market, the bridges of security are continuing being built as technology improves. This provides a prime opportunity for savvy hackers to swoop in on a rapidly developing market and take advantage of vulnerabilities that have yet to be identified in the rush to production.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS
The best way to protect your business is to implement a risk management and security protocol that helps identify and fortify vulnerabilities before they compromise sensitive data.
IMPLEMENT A PASSWORD POLICY
In many instances, your data is only as secure as your password. And therefore a strong password policy is crucial for keeping data out of mischievous hands. A common suggestion for businesses is to ensure that their staff change their passwords every 90 days, never write them down, never share them with others, and avoid including sequential numbers, common words, or personal information. It might be worth it to look into a third-party password manager to handle this for you.
INSTALL ANTIVIRUS AND A FIREWALL
Antivirus software and an active firewall are a must for data protection. A firewall helps “lock the doors” to unwanted traffic through your business, and antivirus software helps alert and defend against a breach, should one occur.
ENCRYPT DATA AT REST AND IN TRANSIT, AND LIMIT DATA LOCATIONS AND ACCESS
Data encryption is a critical part of keeping business data safe. Data at rest should always be held behind access controls and also encrypted. Encryption technology helps keep data in the hands of only those who should have access to it. This also helps keep data held on a physical device safe if it becomes lost or stolen. In addition to while it is at rest, data in transit should also be protected through a secure, encrypted email system and a secure, private network. Cut down on data access points by limiting the places you store sensitive data, along with the number of individuals who have access to it. Consolidate data, implement strong access controls, and ensure that any access is monitored closely.