There is no doubt the superhighway of the internet has improved life for organizations the world over, but with each new innovation comes another avenue for a cyberattack to travel down. Vulnerabilities in cybersecurity are no longer just a concern, but a widespread epidemic. Last year data breaches rose a whopping 40%, with 37 million records exposed affecting every sector including the government, financial services, education, health, and businesses the world over.
The evolving role of tech leadership must focus on being proactive to avoid becoming another victim. Understanding the rapidly shifting landscape of cybersecurity threats can be difficult, but discovering vulnerabilities and closing them to attacks is essential for every organization now more than ever.
Arguably the biggest cybersecurity threat in 2017 is the juggernaut of ransomware. As software that takes a company’s information hostage until a large fee is paid, this cunning method of attack has rapidly grown more sophisticated by now being able to operate while offline.
There were a massive 638 million ransomware attacks in 2016, representing an increase of 167x over the previous year and showing no signs of slowing in 2017. With $209 million in ransom paid out in the first quarter of last year alone, it is clear to any tech leader that precautions are necessary. While many traditional safeguards against cybersecurity threats can assist, the only sure way to deem a ransomware attack powerless is to regularly backup essential files.
Internet of Things
Businesses and consumers alike have enjoyed the IoT revolution, as previously isolated devices have become smart and provide greater convenience. However, this increase in connectivity has likewise increased cybersecurity threats.
Examples are not hard to come by. Most notably, the massive credit card breach at retailer Target in 2013 was perpetrated through an internet-connected heating and cooling system in stores. Hackers no longer rely solely on thinly-veiled email attachments to infiltrate a system, but can take any back door alley as they make their way to the most critical information.
Closing off any such entrance takes a bit of education and proactivity. Overhauling every device in an organization, even seemingly-harmless things like automatic lights in the parking lot or smart TV’s in board rooms, is necessary. If it is not essential for a device to be connected to the internet or internal network, then that capability should be turned off.
An adjacent concern to IoT vulnerabilities is the continued adoption of cloud technology. While it certainly has increased efficiency for users, the cloud has likewise caused security concerns for any organization. With companies beginning to harness the power of the tremendous amount of data that their business creates each day, securing data housed in the cloud against cybersecurity threats must take precedence.
There are several ways to safeguard cloud usage. Consider encrypting data prior to uploading so any unauthorized user that finds access to the cloud will not be able to make sense of what it contains. Using a private cloud instead of a public cloud also provides more data control and greater security. Lastly, avoiding the storage of the most sensitive information in the cloud is a common practice to diminish the susceptibility of critical data loss.
Traditional Portals of Attack
Despite the rapid evolution and increasing sophistication of cybersecurity threats, it is important not to overlook traditional methods of attack. Installing updated antivirus software and training employees in creating strong passwords, changing passwords often, and spotting questionable email attachments provides a strong base level of protection. Even when hackers try a new spin on old favorites, such as using company job portals to penetrate corporate systems, a knowledgeable staff member won’t fall for their tricks.
Safeguarding Against Cybersecurity Threats
While making cybersecurity a top priority and enacting safeguards against cybersecurity threats is a strong step forward, it is often in an organization’s best interest to team up with IT experts in the field. When one solitary attack could cost a business millions of dollars, the very livelihood of every employee is on the line.
With the current demand of skilled cybersecurity professionals vastly outweighing the supply, there are simply not enough experienced candidates to fill open cybersecurity positions. Partnering with an IT staffing solutions firm that can provide cybersecurity specialists experienced in spotting and diminishing the latest vulnerabilities is the most cost-effective option to keep any organization operating smoothly in 2017 and beyond.