Small businesses operating online have never been at greater risk of attack. Last year, hacking was in the spotlight more than ever, with everyone from C-level executives to the innocent (or not-so-innocent) consumer under threat. Even the would-be leaders of the Western World weren't safe.
Without the resources of big enterprises, small businesses are particularly at risk of cyber-attacks, with Norman Guadagno, chief evangelist at Carbonite, noting that "almost one in five small business owners say their company has lost data in the past year."
With each data hack costing anything from $82,200 to $256,000, it'd be wise to swot up on the latest trends in cybersecurity and how to prepare your defences to keep your data safe.
Here are some of the key developments to look out for in 2017.
The rise of ransomware
As the name suggests, ransomware infects your computer and holds your data to ransom, demanding significant sums for its release. The crime rings that perpetrate these attacks are growing more intelligent and sophisticated by the minute and small businesses are often a soft target, with less protection and cyber awareness than larger companies. To help protect your business, ensure your software and hardware are up to date, change your passwords frequently and educate employees not to click on any suspicious emails or links.
Thumbprints to unlock smartphones will seem second-rate in comparison to what 2017 has in store. Biometric security will increasingly include more sophisticated methods, such as facial, voice or iris recognition. While fundamentally this should be very secure – afterall it's a lot harder for somebody to steal your face than your password – the technology is by no means without its issues, which various early innovators are trying to iron out. Watch this space!
Holding your data in the cloud, whether with a large company, such as Nokia Networks or a smaller, more bespoke organisation, can have its advantages and disadvantages. While it alleviates the burden of security from yourself, it also opens up the possibility of an attack from hackers targeting SaaS applications and platforms. So, to minimise the risks, ensure you choose a reputable provider, with top-notch defences and the necessary cyber and professional indemnity insurance in place.
Internet of Things
With driverless cars, smart entertainment systems and connected cameras, the Internet of Things, or IoT, is growing bigger and more complex all the time. Yet these devices are often overlooked when it comes to cyber security, leaving them especially vulnerable to attacks, or used as a part of a botnet to attack other systems. As a result, it's vital that device-level security is in operation, using tightly controlled, multiple-factor authentication.
Human error is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to data breaches and cyber-attacks, which is why security is set to become increasingly automated in 2017 and beyond. It also amounts to 'fighting fire with fire', with an increasing number of cyber-attacks now themselves automated, using armies of botnets to overwhelm company systems. Automated technology could be the best weapon against this, increasing efficiency, reducing errors and able to respond more quickly as new threats occur.
This is a guest post from Cheeky Munkey, an IT service provider specialising in cyber security risks for small and medium businesses.
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