You probably heard of at least one major data breach or cyberattack in 2017, and all signs point to an increase in threats from black-hat hackers in 2018. Sources vary, from independent operators, corporate, or government agency-based. From election influencing to financial theft and system takeovers, the variety of threats can seem overwhelming to guard against. Here are a few of the key predictions of cybersecurity threats for 2018.
Internet of Things (IoT)
As more and more devices become internet-connected, it gets harder for individuals and organizations to safeguard their security. In 2017 we saw unsecured cameras being streamed worldwide, with locations mapped and exposed to the public. Voice-controlled digital assistants and smart-hubs were hacked to push messages and content into private homes. Self-driving cars are on the horizon, and already there’s a buzz around remote operation hacking. The focus should be on a two-pronged approach targeting network security and IoT device security. Unique passwords must be created to maximize protection (always change the default password settings), and regular updates to software and systems should be completed. The biggest weaknesses are factory-set passwords that haven’t been updated and, as of 2017, unprotected firmware.
It’s not just our homes and businesses increasingly relying on connected devices. Critical infrastructure and government bodies are more networked than ever before, and cyberattacks are increasing. Transportation systems, power grids, and medical facilities are just a few of the targets that have been identified – and have already suffered an attack in various locations. You don’t need to turn full prepper just yet, but it’s a good idea to have some backups in place in case your local authorities fail to fend off a cyberattack. Stock up on water, blankets and first aid supplies – and it doesn’t hurt to contact your municipalities and elected representatives to make sure they’re aware of and responding to potential dangers in their area of jurisdiction.
A combination of inadequately secured websites and databases or servers being targeted for hacking, increase the risk of theft of personal identification including contact and financial details. Individuals, small businesses, major corporations, and government databases have all been hacked, and there’s no projected slowdown in sight. Improved security measures are not always as foolproof as they might first appear. The SSL encryption is a good case-in-point; ostensibly, that little https at the head of a web address should offer you peace of mind, but hackers are still finding loopholes through third-party integrations. Businesses and organizations need to invest in experienced security professionals to close loopholes and should have a breach response plan to prepare for the likely eventuality that a hack will take place. Individuals can make an effort not to share personal information wherever possible, use a VPN to add a layer of encryption, and regularly (constantly!) update operating systems, programs, and passwords.
For businesses of all sizes, efficient cybersecurity practices are a must. But if hiring a dedicated professional to guard the gates is out of reach for your organization, at the very least you should establish a consulting relationship with a qualified specialist. Look for someone with experience who is proactively taking steps to stay up to date with best practices. Relying solely on web administrators or developers, cloud software providers, or system administrators will not be enough to fend off dangerous threats.
If you’re concerned about a potential security breach being introduced in the form of an unreliable hire or contractor agreement, you may want to look into an umbrella corporation to add a layer of protection for your organization. Umbrella PAYE is a solution for providing security around contractor payments and documentation. Strong references from other, verifiable clients or previous employers are also a must, and asking for a referral from other respected businesses can be a way to track down a high-quality security consultant.
Prepare to protect yourself, your business, and your clients from cybersecurity threats in 2018 by taking practical steps to stay on top of system maintenance and updates and by using qualified professionals to close security loopholes and reduce risk. Regular software updates are a vital starting place. Antivirus software and firewalls are a must, and attention to wireless network security alongside the use of a VPN can help. Passwords should be challenging, varied, and regularly updated – which means you may want to look into a password manager to help you stay on top of things. Invest in security for any websites or servers you use, and if you don’t already have an ongoing relationship with a specialist cybersecurity professional, get one in place before you have a costly crisis to which you have to respond.