In 2014, 71% of organizations reported to have been affected by a cybersecurity attack. Phishing and malware scams have proven to be two of the top threats impelling businesses to attempt to safeguard their network security. The methods hackers are using to fool victims into doing things such as clicking on a malicious link or downloading fake software are becoming increasingly more difficult to identify as threats. As 2016 commences, businesses will be required to reevaluate their network security protocols and make changes to suit the evolution of technology and cybercrime. The following sections outline a few of the main problems companies will encounter when assessing their security capabilities for the future.

End-user education and cybersecurity threat vulnerabilities 

End-user education has become a primary focus for businesses trying to control cyber threats as hackers continue to take advantage of social engineering to blindside users. Experts say the method of personally targeting victims with scams tailored to their online presence will become increasingly popular and businesses must provide thorough end-user education to their staff on how to identify such attempts.

Employees are often a company’s greatest security risk and in today’s technology climate of rapid development and continuous change, hackers are given new ways to target and profit from an organization’s network every day.

A business can spend thousands of dollars implementing technical security measures, but with one click, an employee can allow a hacker to bypass those defenses, paving the way for a network compromise despite the company’s efforts.

Normally, a business has several security procedures in place that specify how employees are to use their devices and browse the Internet. Most users are already wary of scam attempts such as emails claiming they have won a million dollars or phone calls saying they have been selected as a finalist to be on television. However, hackers have harnessed the power of social media to engineer customized methods for misleading users.

Phishing emails, malicious phone calls, and fake applications are just a few of the ways cybercriminals have targeted organizations and their staff. For example, an office administrator may receive an email that appears to be from the CEO of the company asking for money to be wired to a certain location. The CEO may be on a business trip and the context of the request may align with business activities, helping to disguise the scam as a legitimate request.

Such scams can be elusive as the email addresses, logos, and employee roles the scammer utilized may fit the company. However, grammar errors, spelling mistakes, or outdated branding materials can help reveal a hacker before they gain access to an organization’s systems.

IT resources and skills gap 

Hyperconnectivity is already presenting a challenge to businesses trying to secure their networks. As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, companies will need to employ information security professionals with the knowledge and capabilities to keep pace with hackers. A business may have technical support capable of installing firewalls or updating software, but there will be a growing necessity for IT professionals who possess the skills to align cybersecurity with business development.

Such individuals will need to be capable of not only managing a breach but evaluating and understanding what went wrong so they can develop a suitable IT strategy for the future of the organization. A company should assess the knowledge and skills of its technology resources to determine its ability to take advantage of innovative tools while maintaining stringent security.

IoT security strategies 

In the past, IoT devices have been primarily experimental, but as this technology sector develops, so will its use in business. For example, smartwatches are predicted to become further integrated into enterprise operations as developers design more process friendly platforms to host business applications.

When such products were being designed, manufacturers were often in a rush to distribute the new technology and did not consider the extensive security risks entailed. The increasing use of IoT devices in organizations around the world will prompt developers to integrate more advanced defense mechanisms and require businesses to design device management and use protocols to address evolving security threats.

Consumers have already begun to experience the integration of IoT devices into their daily lives as cars, wearable devices, household appliances, televisions, and more become interconnected. Hackers are eager to exploit these interdependencies.

For example, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek received a significant amount of attention in the summer of 2013 for their successful remote hacking of two vehicles using their laptops. In 2015, the two security engineers were able to take control of their friend’s Jeep Cherokee as it was being driven on the highway. Miller and Valasek completed this while using their laptops and sitting on their couch at home.

While people may not be concerned about hackers infiltrating their IoT refrigerator or toaster, losing control of a vehicle elicits greater concern, and law enforcement officials have already begun to encounter such crimes in the real world.

The Houston Police Department recently posted a YouTube video that shows two suspects within 12 minutes shutting off the alarm of a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and successfully reversing the vehicle out of the driveway via a laptop.

Features consumers generally consider to be harmless like Bluetooth radio, wireless internet, and even a cell phone connected by a USB cable can allow hackers to gain access to a car’s internal computer system.

Essentially, anything connected to the Internet is prone to be compromised and organizations must consider how the development and use of IoT devices will change the landscape of network security management. Smartwatches, fitness trackers, Internet-connected home devices, and more can be used to compromise a company’s IT network, and sufficient physical, technical, and administrative safeguards must be implemented to effectively secure a business against the threats that accompany IoT technology.

Aldridge has the knowledge and support your business needs to embrace the latest technology developments while keeping your IT network safe from cybercriminals. Consider outsourcing your IT and keep your business ahead of the curve and out of the reach of hackers.