5 IT Security Trends to Look Out For in 2016

Cyber-attacks have become an ever-increasing threat to businesses, and IT security is on high alert. In fact, last year kicked off with a series of high-profile data breaches, and the FBI ranked cybercrime as one of its top law enforcement activities. Some of the big companies who got hit in 2015 were: Anthem (as many as 80 million records of customers and employees were exposed), Sony Pictures (several private company documents were compromised and the theatrical release of “The Interview” was cancelled), JPMorgan Chase (the account information of 83 million households and small businesses were stolen), and several others.

IT security is a major issue that should not be taken lightly. Here are five IT security trends to watch for in 2016.

1. Mobile devices are a huge target.

With more consumers integrating smartphones and other mobile devices into their lives, it has become easier for malicious hackers to target these devices for their personal gain. BYOD (bring your own device) and other mobile-related practices are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. Smartphones also continue to be the preferred source of authentication for many financial transactions. With so much on the line when it comes to what your mobile device stores – credit card information, business-sensitive data, and other confidential materials – it’s easy to see why these devices are a prime target for cybercriminals. That’s why it’s essential for companies to implement secure policies and employee guidelines on safe mobile practices.

2. Hacktivism and terrorist cyber-attacks will gain traction.

As we near the next US Presidential election in the month of November, “hacktivism” will lead to a rise of protest and politically-driven attacks in 2016. And these attacks will be carried out across a wide spectrum, including social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Hijackers who are set on spreading false information on the personal accounts of candidates or want to relay information about specific political issues will take storm.

Additionally, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and Eastern Europe will spark even greater worldwide political tension, and terrorists will impact IT security through drastic means like shutting down entire systems or news channels.

3. Ransomware is on the rise.

This is a type of malware that creeps its way into your computer through infected links or popup messages and leads to your computer or mobile phone being locked and inaccessible. The only way for you to get your data back is to pay a ransom to your attacker typically through Bitcoin, an encrypted form of online payment that enables the hacker to receive payment anonymously. In some cases, victims are asked to pay several thousands of dollars.

This isn’t something new, but it’s increasing and becoming a huge IT security risk to look out for in 2016.

4. Be aware of internal threats.

A data security breach can cost your business its reputation as well as a lot of money. It can be especially devastating when the breach is caused by someone from the inside. Well-known breaches such as Ashley Madison (37 million records stolen) and Morrison’s (100,000 staff records leaked) have been widely reported to have been perpetrated by insider threats.

But spotting a security threat from within can be incredibly difficult because the attacker is somebody who usually has permissible access to the data they steal. That’s why it’s important for companies to have security systems in place to protect against both outsider and insider threats.

5. Spear phishing will grow more sophisticated.

Spear phishing occurs when a single user or department is addressed by someone who appears to be from within the organization – aka someone you trust – and they request sensitive information like logins and passwords from you. This is the primary method for hackers to gain access to secured networks in order to deploy spyware, Trojan Horses, and other malware in the targeted computers. With the targeting of high-level executives or people with a high security clearance on the rise, it’s crucial for businesses to invest in a quality IT security plan and policy in order to keep their systems protected.