2016 saw a number of high profile incidents of cyber crime, including the hacking of the Democratic party during the US Presidential Election and a major DDoS attack which managed to shut down key services including Netflix, Amazon and CNN.

With 1 in 5 businesses suffering data loss in the last year, cybersecurity is an increasingly important issue for all modern businesses. So, what does the future of cybersecurity hold and what are the major issues to take into account for 2017?


The rise of artificial intelligence


Machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence are set to play an increasing role in both cyber attacks and cyber security. Hackers are starting to use deep-learning AIs to launch ever more sophisticated attacks, learning how real users, devices and servers interact so they can blend in and more effectively compromise businesses’ and users’ IT systems.

AI is also helping businesses, however, by allowing their security teams to effectively identify potential threats based on small anomalies in the activity taking place on their servers. This can make it easier to identify the first stages of a cyberattack and take steps to prevent it escalating into a full-scale attack which can lead to serious consequences, including loss of sensitive data or a shutdown of the company’s service.

By automating cyber defences in this way, it may be possible not only to make it quicker and easier to identify threats, but also to allow IT security systems to automatically handle potential attacks. This can make cybersecurity less labour intensive and provide better round-the-clock protection.


Exposing credential theft


Attackers often do not have to use sophisticated techniques to break into a company’s systems – many attacks are the result of stealing and abusing employees’ legitimate credentials to access the company’s systems.

In many ways, this kind of threat can be particularly hard to protect against. On the surface, a hacker using an employee’s login details to access systems will seem like legitimate usage. There are only so many barriers most companies will want to put in place to help verify users’ identities without making systems slow and frustrating to access.

IT security in the future must increasingly focus on identifying when a user’s credentials have been compromised. This mainly involves using various techniques to analyse how users typically use a company’s systems and then detecting any unusual changes in behaviour patterns. The most common example is flagging up when a user tries to access systems from a new device or location for the first time and requiring an administrator to authorise this.

Such simple measures can do a lot to frustrate cyber attackers and help limit the damage that can occur from compromised login details and other employee credentials.


The growth of ransomware


Cyber crime is becoming more organised and sophisticated, with an increase in the number of criminals using ransomware to attack companies an unfortunate consequence of this.

Ransomware allows hackers to gain control of your data and systems, lock you out and demand payment in order to restore access. This is one of the most lucrative forms of cyberattack for criminals so is only likely to grow in significance as a threat in the near future.

As this kind of threat has become more common, antivirus software and IT security professionals have become much more proficient at dealing with ransomware. However, for businesses it is still highly advisable to make sure you have backups of all your key data in places which cannot easily be accessed from your main systems. This means that if you do get hit by a ransomware attack, the amount of data you actually stand to lose should be minimal.


The future of cybersecurity is proactive


There is an increasing drive from many leading IT security firms and professionals to be more proactive in the way they deal with cybersecurity threats. This involves laying digital traps for attackers to fall into, so instead of just notifying companies when a potential attack is happening, hackers can be neutralised before they have chance to start doing any damage.

This kind of approach can be labour intensive, requiring skilled IT security professionals to be actively monitoring a business’s cybersecurity. However, for companies that are serious about keeping their data and systems safe and secure, taking a more proactive approach is likely to be an important move in the near future.


Protect your business from cybersecurity threats


The ability to work safely and securely, while protecting your data and your clients’ data is essential for modern businesses. City Business Solutions specialise in IT security for the legal industry, so if you want to learn more about the future of cybersecurity and how we can keep your business safe, please get in touch.