IBM recently announced the shocking average cost of data breach. While down around 10 percent, the global average for a data breach is $3.62 million. For many companies, the cost of suffering a cyberattack is enough to take the business down entirely, so it has never been more vital for all organizations to invest in their cyber defenses.
In order to equip suitable security, you first need to understand exactly where the danger comes from. Looking ahead to 2018, we examine the biggest cybersecurity threats both to individuals and companies across the world.
With each passing year it feels like cybercrime hits the headlines more often than ever before. This was certainly the case through 2017, as criminal hacking and attacks seemed to be constantly in the news. Many of the most memorable cases came as a result of ransomware. Likely the most famous was the WannaCry attack, which saw a huge number of businesses and, most notably, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service locked out of their computer systems with a ransom demand for the return of sensitive data. It was reported that this attack alone saw more than £105,000 paid to criminals.
It seems that in 2018, ransomware will remain an extremely acute and common threat against companies and organizations. The technology is becoming more effective, and for as long as businesses are still willing to pay for the return of data, cybercriminals will continue to use the technique.
Businesses that wish to protect themselves against these forms of ransomware attack should invest in backups and data encryption. Doing so limits the effectiveness of an attack, as sensitive data is not available to hackers and files can be easily restored.
Lack of Expertise
One of the biggest cybersecurity threats to small and medium-sized businesses comes not from the criminals that would look to attack them, but from their own lack of expertise and knowledge. As criminals become more knowledgeable and sophisticated, it is down to businesses to ensure that they are properly protected against the dangers.
For example, small businesses that attempt to manage their own web hosting without a good understanding of how to defend themselves against attacks can leave themselves extremely vulnerable. It has been estimated that more than half of British businesses suffer cyberattacks, so those with the weakest defenses will always be the ones that suffer the most.
It is imperative that companies that lack cybersecurity expertise should invest either in internal staff or outside agencies. Many firms specialize in personalized cybersecurity for small organizations or offer managed hosting solutions to take the responsibility away from small business owners.
The Vulnerability of the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming broader and more encompassing. Almost every piece of electronic equipment is capturing data – from personal devices storing sensitive medical details to industrial equipment holding important company information. This came to a head in late 2016, when Dyn was targeted by an enormous distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack leveraging the IoT.
In 2018 this will become even more dangerous, as hackers and criminals look for ways to gain access to networks using unsecure IoT devices. It is important for companies and individuals to take the time to understand the security measures on their IoT devices to ensure that they are not putting themselves at risk.
Only a couple of years ago, the most significant cybersecurity threats came from external hacking attacks. DDoS and password cracking were some of the major tools used by cybercriminals, which meant that businesses and organizations invested heavily in powerful defenses to make it harder for hackers to operate effectively.
While it’s good news that these cyber threats are no longer as effective as they once were, this meant criminals sought other techniques. Phishing scams are more sophisticated than ever, for example, as bad actors can now skilfully replicate emails that appear to be from supervisors or co-workers. Throughout 2018, businesses will need to prepare themselves with additional training to ensure their staff are safe. If a hacker can gain access to internal systems, they can covertly steal data internally, which can be very difficult to detect.
Of course, the point above raises an interesting issue: given that companies find it very difficult to protect themselves against attacks perpetrated with internal credentials, organizations can be at risk from their own employees. Indeed, statistics from Infosecurity Group revealed that 43 percent of all data breaches were caused by internal actors, and half of these breaches were intentional.
This indicates that companies need to be aware of the risks that their employees and staff can pose against them. That’s not to say that businesses should begin witch hunts against their team, but rather stress the relevance of proper internal systems so that any suspicious behavior or losses of data can be traced back to individuals easily. In 2018, companies should look to invest both in training staff to make them aware of the security measures in place and also in computer systems that limit access to sensitive data only to those individuals that need it.
The Accessibility of Hacking Tools
Unfortunately, one of the other major issues in 2018 will be the fact that potential hackers are now able to gain access to tools far more easily than ever before. Individuals with little or no experience can purchase tools that allow them to break into computer systems, and hackers have also begun to use their numbers to their advantage – realizing the gains that can be made in working together.
Throughout 2018 and beyond it will be up to businesses and organizations to invest in cybersecurity features and highly trained and knowledgeable staff.
About the Author
Mike James is an independent writer specializing in cybersecurity, working together with Wirehive – a managed hosting platform for digital agencies, ecommerce and brands.