The Four Biggest Cybersecurity Threats in 2016

Cybersecurity threats 2016

Business professionals came together in Minneapolis, MN and Sioux Falls, SD on April 12th and 19th at the Xigent Solutions 2016 IT Security Trends events to learn about developing cybersecurity threats. The goal of the events was to educate business leaders about the top cybersecurity threats and what actions they should be taking to make sure their business is protected.

Amos Aesoph, our Senior Solutions Architect and XHS Security Officer, spoke along with Jeff Peterson, Cisco’s security product specialist. Together, they defined cybersecurity, outlined the current state of IT security, and broke down the resources for user education in disaster recovery procedures. They also highlighted cybersecurity instances in recent headlines.

Much of the presentation was spent discussing the four biggest cybersecurity threats evolving in 2016.

#1 – Ransomware

Ransomware is one of the largest and fastest growing threats to a business’s cybersecurity. It’s the act of an unknown person electronically seizing the secure data on a personal or private network and withholding that data until their demands are met, typically for money.

The number of ransomware attacks has doubled in 2015 alone and we anticipate the effects of these attacks to reach $1 billion in damages over the course of 2016. We’re also beginning to see changes to existing ransomware attacks. Not only are hackers holding business data for ransom, but they’re also threatening to release the information to the public if businesses refuse to pay.

#2 – The Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet access is available almost everywhere and that increased connectivity has helped create the Internet of Things (IoT). Simply defined, the IoT is composed of smart devices like televisions, thermostats, and home security systems that can now be controlled through access to the internet.

While home devices are what most people think to protect against when it comes to cyberattacks, today with smartwatches, vehicles, jet engines, and even herb gardens connected to the internet, the amount of entry points for hackers are increasing. Today’s cyber criminals are taking advantage of these new access points, making networks increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

#3 - Bigger Data Breaches

As the concern for cybersecurity throughout the world has grown, legislation has been passed to keep track of the information lost when businesses experience a data breach or when their network is compromised.

The HITECH Act requires that any business that digitally stores electronic health records must report any instance where health records have been either stolen or compromised to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  It also states that the DHHS must report breaches any time more than 500 documents have been compromised.

According to the DHHS, 158 million records have been reported as being lost or compromised through breaches. That means approximately 1 in 3 people in the United States have had their information affected by a cybersecurity breach; this number will likely increase in 2016. It’s also important to note that these statistics only reflect records that fall within the HITECH Act requirements and that the DHHS doesn’t report statistics for breaches fewer than 500, so the number of people affected by cyberattacks could likely be much greater.

#4 - Increased Social Engineering

It’s important to understand that the weakest parts of a network are the people who interact with it on a day-to-day basis. Either through an email (phishing), phone call (vishing), or even in person (impersonation), employees who are unaware of a threat can create entry points for hackers to gain access to their secure network.

Promoting end user education will become a major practice for businesses during 2016. Every department, not just IT, needs to be aware of the threats out there. Today’s hackers are trying to attack networks not just through online tactics, but through traditional means like phone, email, and personal interaction as well.

Providing Education and Protection

What are the most effective ways for businesses to protect themselves against these threats?

  • Provide end user cybersecurity education on a recurring basis so your team members can stay current on security issues and protect against the top industry threats. Make your employees part of the solution and not the problem.
  • Develop a security strategy by assessing your current security framework, identifying security gaps, and build a long-term security roadmap

Xigent Solutions is dedicated to building strong and active cybersecurity networks for our customers. We also believe that businesses from the top down need to be aware that secure networks exists through the diligent actions of every department. If you’d like to learn more about how Xigent Solutions can work for you, or if you’d like to see how secure your current network is, contact us today.