Which are 5 Cybersecurity trends in the professional services sector?
Professional services organizations are especially vulnerable due to the high value of the industry and the data they store — like Social Security numbers, personal financial information and classified business communications.
Employees with non-technical backgrounds or low digital literacy often need access to networks that store highly sensitive data. But these same employees are the most vulnerable to cybercriminals.
The cybersecurity landscape is changing, and every industry will need to adapt. But professional services companies should pay the closest attention to these five trends.
1. Employee Training on Phishing and Digital Security
Hackers aren’t only coders — they’re also social engineers. When the network becomes harder to access, unprepared employees are one of the next best vectors of attack. One in 99 emails is a phishing attack, a fraudulent email designed to look legitimate so an employee will click on a malicious link inside or reply with privileged information.
Employees will need training on digital safety: how to spot phishing emails, and also how to spot bad links and downloads that can be a vector for viruses or other attacks.
2. Hackers Target Mobile Devices
Most phishing happens over email. But hackers can target any device that connects to the internet — including your smartphone. And once a hacker has access to your device, it can be trivial to, for example, intercept and store copies of all the emails you receive. Or use your digital credentials to gain access to confidential information.
IT departments will also need to train employees on the security of personal devices, and — if necessary — restrict what sort of devices can access sensitive data.
3. Ransomware Will Cost Businesses More
Ransomware is a term used to describe viruses that encrypt all the files on a user’s computer and hold them hostage for a fee. Ransomware costs small business an estimated $75 billion each year. And the ransoms continue to get higher and higher.
One major virus — the WannaCry ransomware — nearly shut down the British health care system in 2016. The virus is still infecting computers, even though researchers discovered a killswitch in the virus’ code two years ago.
In 2016, the professional services industry in the United States had a value of $1,100 billion. The industry’s presumed high ability to pay makes it a major target for ransomware.
Cybersecurity professionals need to learn how to respond to this specific kind of attack, and employees need training in digital literacy that will help them identify ransomware attacks and refer them to a security professional.
4. Data Privacy and Data Stewardship Are Becoming High Priorities
New data regulations, like the GDPR in Europe, have made data breaches more costly than ever. Companies who hold on to customer data must take the necessary precautions to defend that data by encrypting the data and restricting access to their network. Companies must also inform customers as soon as possible after a breach — sometimes within just a few days.
Companies, seeing the fines paid by major businesses like Equifax and British Airways, will want to beef up their security in a way that complies with U.S. (and possibly GDPR) regulations. These companies will also want to prepare for the worst-case scenario — how will we know if there has been a breach? And how will we respond?
5. Automation and AI Will Come to Cybersecurity
In cybersecurity, a burnout crisis is looming on the horizon. As demand outstrips the number of cybersecurity professionals on the job market, cybersecurity experts are working longer hours, defending against more threats — and shouldering more of the blame in the case of a breach. Cybercrimes are more common than ever, but the number of people entering cybersecurity hasn’t kept up.
Enterprises, wanting to lighten the burden placed on their IT and cybersecurity teams, are looking for any chance to automate processes.
Cybersecurity platforms that use artificial intelligence to beat digital threats are the latest trend in cybersecurity solutions — even if cybersecurity experts are wary of the technology. Be ready to see AI-based cybersecurity tools to become commonplace in the future, but don’t expect they will make your company invulnerable to attack.
What These Changes Mean for Professional Services
The professional services industry will need to adapt to a changing cybersecurity landscape. As data breaches become more common, businesses will need to make sure their employees can spot suspicious emails and links. And even the most secure company should prepare for the possibility of a data breach.
Cybersecurity is constantly advancing, but so are cybercriminals. Professional services industry will need to stay on top of these trends to keep their information safe.