Since the Coronavirus swept the nation in early 2020, Homeland Security Today reports that there has been a 63% increase in cybercrime. As hacking attempts and malicious attacks on cloud and on-site networks increases dramatically, comprehensive cybersecurity has never been more important for small businesses. Cybersecurity Ventures suggests that cybercrime could cost up to $6 trillion USD annually, making it highly profitable, especially in the days of COVID-19. It isn’t likely to go away anytime soon; however, you can expect cybersecurity threats to become more sophisticated and difficult to identify and eliminate.
These three cyber threats are ones to look out for in 2021 and what small businesses can do to protect against them.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is being utilized in more applications than ever before. Cybercriminals are beginning to use AI-driven technology to learn about their targets’ online behaviors to create automated phishing attacks that are often very difficult to detect. For example, a website chatbot could easily trick an employee into believing it’s a real person and entice the user to divulge critical information that enables hackers to orchestrate an advanced attack.
Anthony Buonaspina, BSEE, BSCS, CPACC, and the CEO and founder of LI Tech Advisors says, “Companies that can adjust quickly to the ever-changing landscape of protecting a business against cyberattacks will survive and the ones that don’t can quickly be put out of business. Companies will need to adapt their technology, processes, and policies; those that don’t will die. So, small businesses need to seriously consider incorporating security or bolstering what they already have.”
Cisco reports that in 2021, 27.1 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). Gartner suggests that 7 billion of these will be home automation devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, and businesses can expect that these will also become targets for sophisticated cyberattacks. Ensuring that your company’s cloud security is up to par is critical as 5G and the IoT grow exponentially in the next year.
Mike Shelah of Advantage Industries says, “Many [businesses] realized that their current IT vendor was not up to handling the task to support them and convert to virtualization of their staff. Now is the time to evaluate your IT partner and make sure they are doing what is best for your business.” Anthony Buonaspina also suggests that “it’s recommended to engage the resources of a managed service provider who will be able to offer you the security and monitoring your business will need. This way you can run your business instead of the business running you.”
The use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets has risen dramatically and so has the rate of cyberattacks involving them. Data Connectors reports that 60% of fraud is committed using mobile devices and 80% of that is from mobile applications.
Michael Nelson of TLC Tech explains how flexibility and security will be critical in 2021, saying “The most import trends are going to be around security and flexibility of accessing data. Most of our [business-owning] clients over this past year have realized they can have a certain percentage of their staff working remotely even after the pandemic is over. This means they need to have access to their data from anywhere, anytime, and from any device. But this also leads to the need of making sure that data is secure as well as easily accessible. Having one without the other only puts the business at risk.”
As businesses continue to navigate evolving security risks in 2021, comprehensive cybersecurity strategies should take center stage. The cost of data loss and recovery is far greater than the cost of investing in a good offense against cyber attacks that protects your clients’ sensitive information.