May 06, 2016

Cyber Security Trends for 2016

Laurent Slutzky


Too many businesses remain vulnerable to cyberthreats because they do not stay up-to-date with the latest trends in cybersecurity until it’s too late. Keeping up with cybersecurity predictions can help you protect your business from the latest threats and provide the peace of mind that you are well informed. Here are some of the top trends for 2016 in cyberthreats and security.

Top 2016 Cybersecurity Trends

IoT Device-Specific Threats

While devices such as smartphones have long been targets for cybercriminals, the Internet of Things (IoT) presents would-be thieves with a host of new ways to get at enterprise data. As employees adopt more connected IoT devices, attempts to gain access to enterprise assets through these devices will rise accordingly.

How can businesses allow employees to use connected devices while keeping the organization safe? First, recognize where threats lie. The proliferation of connected Things expands the dangers beyond the simple BYOD threats (for which many organizations are still underprepared). Standards are low for device safety, with the result that many wearables (and other Things) are vulnerable to hackers.

To protect workers and the workplace, organizations should build upon their existing BYOD policies (and if these aren’t in place, then it’s time to play catch-up). Explain the dangers of these Things and discuss acceptable use cases for IoT devices. When possible, devices should be incorporated into access management standards, and IT staff should be trained on risk mitigation for employee devices.

Internal Threats Rise in Awareness, Danger

In the past, organizations have thought of cybercrime in terms of an external threat that must be kept out. Hence the traditional firewall, set up at the networked security borders to keep out the threat and protect everyone inside. Recent years have witnessed a growth in internal threats. Now organizations must look at cybercrime as a mix of internal and external threats.

Just like external threats, internal threats differ in their seriousness and intent. Many arise when employees accidentally allow a threat inside the network. For example, a staff member downloads a file from a website, and it happens to contain malware. The employee may not have intended harm, but, nonetheless, was responsible for letting the threat enter the network.

Other threats are more purposeful. Whether from rogue employees, former employees who still have access control, or other “bad apple” actors, businesses must acknowledge the dangers that are hiding in plain sight.

To protect against internal threats, organizations should revisit the matter of access control. Revoke access control after employees leave or are terminated, and rethink access control for sensitive data. Do all staff need access to certain assets? Finally, protect assets using an internal firewall, which can check credentials and spot malware once it has gotten past the traditional firewall. By monitoring the internal system, your organization can quickly spot accidental or purposeful internal threats and minimize the damage.

“Skills Gap” Leaves Organizations Vulnerable

As hackers continue to diversify their skills in response to new security protections, a cybersecurity “arms race” can develop. Security professionals must continually learn new skills to stay abreast with the new skills of hackers, who then must innovate to bypass security measures, which leaves professionals behind the learning curve, and so on.

While many security professionals do strive to stay up to date, hackers always seem to be one step ahead. This skills gap leaves organizations vulnerable, especially if strong staff move for new job opportunities.

By focusing on the pipeline of IT talent and nurturing staff through continuing education, organizations can ensure they have talented IT professionals in-house. To bridge the gap and bolster in-house professionals, businesses can also look to a managed service provider who can leverage the latest in cybersecurity technologies and the strongest cybersecurity minds.

An MSP is often an economical choice for small businesses who do not have the funds to hire top IT talent or the needs for full-time professionals on staff. MSPs can ensure businesses of all sizes get the cybersecurity talent with the right combination of skills when they need it, to deter threats and fill in weaknesses in in-house security.

Human Error Leaves Organizations Vulnerable

The rise of big data analytics makes it easy for organizations to leverage data to make decisions. Unfortunately, organizations are learning risk is involved with relying on big data algorithms for decision-making: human error. Without a “real person” reviewing the algorithms used by machines, the algorithm can cause some havoc with data and even leave the enterprise vulnerable to cyberattack.

After recognizing the risk of relying on algorithms, organizations can brainstorm around risk, response and resilience to implement fail-safes in the process that reduce the risk and close vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. Regular maintenance, performed in-house or by a managed service provider, can also keep software up to date to reduce vulnerabilities.

Attacks Will Become More Personal

Cyberattacks have always been personal, but they will become more so in 2016. Perhaps in response to public perception of large-scale data breaches, hackers understand the outsized role that reputation plays in the marketplace. Whether attacking individuals or organizations, cybercriminals will seek to make their attacks personal to evoke a sense of fear regarding reputation loss.

To help staff members stay safe, organizations can focus on spreading education and awareness of common threats. When staff are informed, they will be less likely to give in to fear or engage in risky behaviors. Ensuring that the business is properly protected with the latest in cybersecurity can not only prevent cybercrime, it can positively affect the business’s reputation.

The good news is that you do not need to mitigate these cybersecurity threats alone. Managed service providers can help your business develop a comprehensive security strategy, implement best practices for threat detection and mitigation, and realize peace of mind that you are protected from the latest security threats.