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Cybercrimes are on the rise. In fact, the worldwide costs of cybercrime are expected to top $6 trillion (USD) in 2021, according to the “2021 Report: Cyberwarfare in the C-Suite” from the cyber security analysis firm Cybersecurity Ventures.
This is a frightening statistic, especially considering that the global cost of cybercrime was half that amount in only 2015. Cybercrime poses far-reaching risks, including jeopardizing incentives for innovation and investment, as well as bringing businesses, governments and institutions to a standstill.
Cybercrime is big business, and no company is too large or too small to be a victim. Even security-conscious firms can be targets for cybercriminals.Thus, it’s more important than ever for businesses of all sizes, in all industries, to step up their cyber security – and to keep up-to-date on the latest cyber security trends.
8 Cyber Security Trends
When it comes to your cyber security, knowledge is power. Here are eight important cybersecurity trends that you should know about to better safeguard your business.
1. Malware is more sophisticated than ever
At one time, computer viruses and other malware were easy to control with updated antivirus (AV) software. Each piece of malware had a digital identity, like a human’s fingerprint, that never changed throughout its lifecycle. Once a virus was identified, the AV software provider would issue an update to its software, which could then block the malware if it tried to attack.
More recently, however, hackers have learned to create malware that changes its digital identity or code as it propagates from computer to computer. This “polymorphism,” as it’s known to cyber security experts, makes the malware more difficult to detect. According to the 2020 Webroot Threat Report, 93.6% of malware is now polymorphic.
2. Cyber security tools are improving too
The good news is that tools for detecting and eliminating malware are also becoming more sophisticated. An important new weapon is the use of artificial intelligence (AI). AI and machine learning technology enables computers to “learn” to identify patterns in data, for applications such as recognizing objects in digital photographs.
In a similar way, a machine-learning cyber security algorithm can use predictive analytics for detection and response to cyberthreats–even ones that it has never seen before. In this way, even polymorphic malware can be recognized and eliminated.
For example, an AI algorithm can be trained to identify phishing emails that would fool many human recipients. AI solutions can also compare activities being performed under a particular user ID with that user’s past activities. Anything abnormal can be flagged as a compromised user account.
AI-powered cyber security tools can do all this in seconds or less–a far cry from the days or weeks it sometimes takes human security teams to realize they’ve been hacked. (In the infamous case of the Marriott Starwood data breach, hackers had access to customer data, including payment card information, for four years before the breach was detected.)
Furthermore, AI tools operate around the clock. Acting with a definite advantage over humans – with never taking breaks, going to meetings, or going on holiday.
Although AI-powered cyber security tools tend to be more expensive than their conventional counterparts, they can be far more effective, and security developers are introducing cloud-based AI security solutions that are making them more affordable.
3. Ransomware continues to rise
Ransomware continues to be a lucrative activity. Security experts expect ransomware to cost businesses $20 billion (USD) in 2021, according to Arcserve’s 2020 Data Attack Surface Report.
In a ransomware attack, malware infects a computer and encrypts the hard drive. Victims can pay the hackers to restore the data; sometimes the hackers do restore the data and sometimes they just demand more money or disappear altogether.
Many victims of ransomware are small- and medium-sized businesses and government agencies with vulnerable security postures. Additionally, many feel they have no choice but to hope that paying the ransom will get their systems restored faster than if they had to rebuild them from scratch.
All of this makes ransomware one of the greatest cybersecurity challenges.
4. Cloud security: Good news and bad
The cloud is both an important cyber security tool and a growing target of cyber threats.
Cloud services can be an effective defense against ransomware. If a ransomware attack locks up a cloud-based server, administrators can simply shut it down and restore it from a “snapshot,” or backup image of the server. Restoration can be accomplished in a matter of minutes.
However, driven in part by the recent rise in the popularity of remote work during COVID-19, the growing adoption of cloud services is making them a target for cybercriminals.
In fact, the recent increase in cloud attacks has been staggering. Cyber attacks on cloud-based accounts skyrocketed by 630% from January-April 2020, with the manufacturing, government and transportation sectors being hit the hardest (McAfee, Cloud Adoption and Risk Report: Work From Home Edition, 2020).
Among the most important IT security trends today, securing cloud-based data and computing resources is more complex than securing PCs and on-premise servers. As a result, security professionals have to learn new cloud security skills to maintain threat intelligence and protect corporate and personal data.
5. The Elephant in the Room: Internal threats
A company’s internal resources – its employees and contractors with access to IT systems – can pose significant threats to a company’s cyber security.
In fact, Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report indicates that 34% of all data breaches are the result of actions, whether deliberate or accidental, by inside personnel.
Sometimes data breaches are “inside jobs”–a disgruntled employee sabotages the company’s IT security or just walks out with a thumb drive full of sensitive data.
More often, however, breaches are caused by human error, whether it’s employees who fall victim to clever phishing attacks or IT technicians who overlook important security aspects, such as leaving holes in firewalls or neglecting to apply security patches when setting up network switchgear.
6. Growing threats to IoT and mobile devices
The cyber threat landscape is growing with the increasing number of internet-of-things (IoT) devices, smartphones, and other network-connected devices.
Smartphone users are experiencing more smishing attacks (like phishing, except distributed by text message). As more employees use both personal and company-owned devices for work, the opportunity to access internal data through these devices is tantalizing to hackers, who are stepping up attacks of all kinds on these devices.
Mobile device management is thus becoming an ever-growing concern for businesses of all sizes.
In the case of IoT devices such as wireless sensors, device manufacturers have all too often neglected to design them with security in mind, making them easy targets for hackers. Companies that plan to deploy IoT devices should scrutinize their security vulnerabilities before purchasing.
Interested in strengthening your business’ cyber security measures?
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In recent decades, cyber attacks have gone to an entirely new level with cyber warfare.
Simply defined, cyberwarfare is a politically motivated digital attack by a nation on another nation. Cyberwarfare can also describe digital attacks by hackers or terrorist groups that are geared towards advancing the goals of a specific nation.
Cyber warfare is used to disrupt the critical networks and computer-systems of organizations or nations, especially for political gain, military or strategic objectives, and cyberespionage. Governments and organizations can pay greatly for successful attacks.
A recent example of cyberwarfare:
- A Portugese cyber crime group hacked into the computer systems at a division of Oxford University to access COVID-19 research in February 2021 – and it is suspected that they are selling the information that they retrieved to other nations (Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2021).
Hackers can use the following tools for cyberwarfare:
- Ransomware to hold systems hostage until a government, business or institution pays
- Hacking and theft of critical information
- Denial-of-Service attacks to prevent actual users from accessing network or computer systems
- And more
8. Automation to the rescue
To end this list on a good note, another important trend in cyber security is automation. Although AV software has long had the ability to automatically detect and block incoming malware and other cyberattacks, automation can help with other security tasks as well, such as:
- Asset tracking and management for both hardware and software
- Security assessments for network gear, firewalls, servers, and PCs
- PC and server operating system and application patching
- Certificate management
These tools and more can relieve IT staff of tedious tasks while improving the company’s cyber security and reducing human error. Nowadays, when many technicians are being asked to do more with fewer resources, automation is a key data and network security trend.
Prioritize Your Business’ Cyber Security with a Trusted Managed Services Provider
Nowadays, businesses need to take greater precautions to protect themselves against cyber threats. A security breach can be devastating to a business – compromising sensitive business data, ruining its reputation and costing it potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
Investing in cyber security is a necessity, but most SMBs do not have the internal resources to thoroughly mitigate cyber incidents alone.
A trusted managed services provider, such as Fusion Computing, can help enhance your cyber security and protect your business from attacks.
At Fusion Computing, your cyber security is our priority. Leveraging the latest cyber security monitoring tools and solutions, our experienced team of IT and cyber specialists will proactively monitor your network to detect and resolve security breaches before they can impact your business.
What’s more, none of our clients have experienced a cyber security breach in over 13 years of being in the industry – so you can rest assured that when you work with us, your cyber security is in competent, professional hands.
Ready to take your cyber security to the next level? Contact the experts at Fusion Computing today!