Top cyber security trends to expect in 2017

It’s getting dangerous out there. The number of large-scale data losses and service outages due to cyberattacks is growing. And each successful attack emboldens hackers and engenders other attacks. IT professionals in charge of keeping their organizations safe are facing hackers who are getting more bold, skilled, and organized. To keep up, you must also get more bold, skilled, and organized.

Considering the massive and successful cyberattacks in 2016, it is evident that 2017 will witness increasing attacks with even wider damage. To protect themselves and their confidential data, companies need to prepare extensively and fight back aggressively. Here are some of the top cyber-security trends an organization should be aware of this year:

1) More hybrid attacks

Hackers have always been targeting the areas with least resistance. A minor misconfiguration or a small loophole in securing online resources prints an open invitation for hackers to come in and do damage. Apart from doing what’s easiest, we can also expect attackers to use new forms of hybrid attacks in 2017.

With the aid of these hybrid attacks, attackers are able to pose multiple threats to all Internet users across the globe. In October 2016, the world witnessed one the largest and most destructive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks of its kind when hackers brought down cloud-based DNS provider Dyn, leading to outages of major Internet sites including Netflix, Reddit, CNN, and Twitter.

This attack was facilitated using Mirai botnets that in this case created havoc using Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as security cameras. Currently, more than 5,000 smart devices get connected to the Internet every minute, and many of these devices have limited or no security, making them easy prey for hackers. These hybrid attacks are likely to turn data theft into data ransom, causing long-term damage at both the individual and organizational level.

Like other malware, we can expect Mirai botnets to also morph and evolve with time. These hybrid attacks can get even worse in 2017 and can cause a huge and disastrous impact on cyber security.

2) Ransomware will grow even more dangerous

Ransomware is already recognized as a global cyber-security problem for companies of all shapes and sizes. For the uninitiated, ransomware is a form of cyberattack where the hackers gain control over your confidential or private data, encrypt it, and demand payments. If the ransom is paid, the hackers may (or may not) send a key to decrypt the data. Ransomware creators and others involved in these kinds of cybercrimes are remorseless. And with the number of hackers increasing — and the ease of getting the tools to build ransomware on the Dark Web — ransomware is expected to increase in 2017 and beyond.

Ransomware has become the tool of choice for cyber extortion, and its threat against individual computer users and large organizations cannot be overstated. As prevention is better than a dubious cure, it is essential that each individual, business, and organization protect their sensitive data with antimalware software, continual backups, and, in the case of companies, a set of rules for workers on safe-browsing and email practices.

3) Cyber insurance will get more popular

Although not many organizations or businesses allocate cyber insurance costs in their overall IT budget, we can expect it to become more predominant this year as companies look for ways to mitigate the damage from a successful cyberattack.

Cyber insurance will not protect you from security breaches, but it will offer some financial compensation for costs related to the attack and its recovery. Cyber insurance covers errors and omissions, media liabilities, privacy, and network security. However, as the insurance industry evolves to handle cyberattacks, cyber insurance may also routinely cover intangible damages such as loss of a company’s reputation and the trust of their customers.

4) Attacks on consumer devices will increase

With attackers using Internet of Things as their weapon, it is more likely that many consumer electronics connected to the Internet are in the crosshairs of hackers. And since ransomware has become an easy means of money for attackers, every individual using network-connected electronics can be a victim of such cyberattacks.

Mobile phones are an easy means for attackers to exploit your sensitive data. And consumer electronics such as tablets, laptops, or any other network-based devices are frequently becoming a part of broader cyberattacks. Since mobile devices often contain sensitive information such as work emails, HR-related information, budget documents, and business plans, they are now a vector for attack. Successful attacks on a wide range of mobile devices may be one of the big stories and trends in 2017.

5) Companies will require more security experts

With the enormous growth of cyber threats to organizations and businesses, defending against these cyberattacks is becoming more and more difficult. Though all organizations understand the vulnerabilities and risks associated with a lack of cyber security, not all adequately secure themselves and their resources. And by looking at all these recent cyberattacks, it is evident that the skills and resources needed in cyber security are falling short. This will set in motion two big trends in 2017: The need for organizations to hire top-notch security pros, and the training necessary to ensure there are enough security experts to fill the need.

2017: A time to fight back

If there’s any good that will come from the attacks of 2016, it may be that in 2017 companies are more aware of the threats and are fighting back. Because companies are investing more in cyber security, perhaps by the end of 2017 we will see a new trend: A decline in successful cyberattacks.

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