Once upon a time, cybersecurity was a field of relatively marginal interest for the majority of people. One occasionally encountered viruses and malware, but they were easily avoided if you used the latest antivirus software and followed some fundamental cybersecurity hygiene. Worst-case scenario, you lost the data you currently had on your PC. It was unpleasant, but nothing more. Today, with the role that networks play in our lives and the way we rely on digital technology in all aspects of existence, a security breach can have catastrophic results. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, by 2021 global cybersecurity annual damages are going to reach a mind-boggling value of $6 trillion. On average, hackers attempt to break into a computer every 39 seconds. From an occasional risk, cybercrime turned into constant underlying danger, and it is one of the most significant challenges both businesses and individuals face right now. But what exactly is going to change, and how you can prepare for cybersecurity challenges in 2020? Let us take a closer look.
1. Internet of Things and 5G pose major cybersecurity challenges
We are swiftly approaching the projected future where the majority of devices we use and that surround us are connected into a single network. It already exists, to an extent — but currently, its potential for development is limited by the insufficient speed of the 4G connection. The upcoming emergence of much faster 5G is the prerequisite for the next bout of explosive growth – in 2020, there will be over 40 billion devices connected to the IoT globally, and this number will grow rapidly over the course of the next year. It may seem like a fascinating prospect until you realize that all of them will be vulnerable for cyberattacks, creating a whole new field of work for cybersecurity experts. They will have to find ways to protect smartphones, smart house systems, security networks, vehicles, and all kinds of other devices. Until things settle down, it will be an ongoing challenge for software developers to create and integrate security patches into new types of smart devices and do it quick enough to meet new products’ release dates.
2. Mobile is increasingly getting used as an attack vector
With virtually everybody constantly using one or more mobile devices these days, it is hardly surprising that cybercriminals are getting more and more eager to use them to get to their targets. It is especially true for people who use the same devices for both business and personal communications. Mobile devices are dangerous for a number of reasons. First, mobile antivirus and anti-malware software often lag behind its PC and Mac analogs. Secondly, mobile devices are, well, mobile. People use them wherever they go, and often do not pay much attention to the details. From compromised public WiFi networks to criminals simply watching over your shoulder as you type in your password, it has become a major cybersecurity challenge because it is much harder to protect a mobile device than a computer that always safely sits in the office. At the very least, you have to invest in a reliable VPN. At most, avoid using the same devices for personal and business purposes — if worst comes to worst, it will help limit the damage.
3. Phishing keeps evolving
Phishing is almost as old as the Internet itself and remains one of the most common types of cyberthreats. However, it already shows an alarming tendency to adapt and evolve, and over 2020, we are likely to see it getting increasingly diverse and sophisticated. As users get more wary of suspicious emails, cybercriminals will more often pose as high-authority organizations, cleverly imitating their normal means of communication. Some people may find themselves targets of focused attacks of this kind by criminals getting access to the information about their contacts and posing as familiar individuals. According to AIG, phishing is likely to remain perhaps the biggest cybersecurity challenge and a major part of the cybercrime landscape, accounting for about a quarter of all claims.
4. Human error remains the main cause of security breaches
Contrary to a popular image of a hacker as a somebody who looks for flaws in security systems and breaks through them using his or her IT skills, the majority of security breaches have always happened and still happen for other reasons. The weakest link in most security systems is not the software but the people. People neglecting company security policies and making stupid mistakes like using a single weak password for all authentications, both personal and business ones, are much more likely to cause a security breach than a failure to update the software on time. More than half of C-Suite executives (53 percent) and almost a third of small businesses (28 percent) who suffered a breach claim that it was caused by human error. It means that employee training still remains one of the first priorities of any employer looking to improve cybersecurity.
5. BYOD turns out to be a very mixed bag
BYOD (bring your own device) is widely lauded for giving businesses a great deal of flexibility while cutting costs. It is true, but the cost is often excessive, increasing the strain on security systems and creating additional risks of data leaks and malware infection. Even if a business has a security department, it has a much harder time protecting many different types of devices that are often hard to track and manage. BYOD became a standard for many companies, but its safe use requires the development of proper processes and protocols taking their risks into account and allowing them to achieve the balance between safety and convenience.
Cybersecurity challenges affect us all
As the world gets more connected, cybercrime is quickly turning into one of the significant challenges the entire population has to deal with. Just as the emergence of big cities led to the rise of crime simply because huge numbers of people started to live in close proximity, with more and more individuals and smart devices getting connected to the Internet, it is only natural that the cybercrime rate is going to rise due to their sheer number. The year 2020 will show us if the Internet is capable of bearing this strain of these cybersecurity challenges.
Featured image: Freepik / gstudioimagen