Cybercrime has been an unnatural disaster for businesses everywhere in 2016. No company was too small and no industry was too well protected from the predatory practices of canny hackers. If this year is any indication of the hunger and resourcefulness with which cybercriminals continue to steal data and create mayhem, then 2017 will be a year for cyberattack record books.

Our research and interactions with industry experts lead us to believe that some of this year’s worst cybersecurity threats will continue to plague businesses. Here are some familiar threats expected to only get worse as the tech trends of 2017 emerge.

Data breaches expected to rise

Reports of data breaches in 2016 already surpassed the year before, with an increase of 25% over those reported in 2015. Healthcare providers, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and even large businesses were victims of hacks, costing millions to each individual business. Yet in spite of all these publicized data breaches, most organizations are still trying to come up with a cybersecurity strategy.

One study shows that businesses are implementing data breach response plans but run them without being proactive, neglecting to reevaluate their plans or make necessary updates. Hackers constantly explore new ways to bypass unchanging security practices, and businesses without a proactive cybersecurity strategy will continue to be victimized.

Ransomware will run rampant

Few cybersecurity threats blindsided the industry quite like ransomware. Going from relative obscurity to cybersecurity buzzword of 2016, ransomware extorted everyone from small businesses up to Fortune 500s. And the price wasn’t cheap. Small to mid-sized businesses are projected to lose $75 billion in ransom fees and lost productivity.

Now that ransomware is mainstream, even more cybercriminals will try to make a quick buck taking your data hostage. In fact, the popularity of this illicit scheme is spawning an entirely new phenomenon: ransomware-as-a-service. Criminals without any encryption experience now have the ability to hold your data for hostage, as long as they split the money they wrest from businesses with the ransomware’s programmer.

Unfortunately, there are no easy ways to prevent ransomware attacks. A robust cybersecurity plan that implements strong system architecture, backup and recovery protocols, and employee training is the only surefire way to proactively defend against your data being kidnapped. In the end, that means having well-trained cybersecurity professionals on-hand.

Cyberwarfare on the rise

Warfare has gone online and businesses will get caught in the crossfire. More countries are practicing digital espionage and non-military targets are increasingly fair game. China’s secret military hacking group is alleged to have targeted US Steel, Allegheny Technologies, SolarWorld, and even Coca-Cola. Russian hackers or hackers on their behalf targeted the DNC. Cyberattacks on US businesses are increasingly taking on a political edge and are only getting more destructive.

This year, we saw the San Francisco Muni system being temporarily shut down. Though not military related, this demonstrates the next direction for cyberwarfare. Experian predicts similar tactics will be employed in a larger scope. As instances of espionage and sabotage escalate, more countries will take action, expanding the number of businesses compromised.

Your company does not need to be a governmental or military target to get hacked. If state-sponsored cybercriminal believe that your business will help strengthen their international position, you are a target.

Preventing losses from cyberattacks on US businesses

With the increase of potential threats, there is an even greater likelihood that more cyberattacks on US businesses will hit home. More often than not, the question facing companies is not will they prevent cyberattacks, but can they mitigate their potential damage?

At the core of that solution is a strong cybersecurity presence. Companies that hire internal IT security professionals have a much better chance of fending off hackers and fostering security best practices that prevent many of the worst problems from happening.

This article originally appeared in TransTech IT Staffing.

 

This article was written by Mary DavenPort from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.