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Tech trends that could weaken the cyber security of your business

  • - By Dakota Murphey

    Many businesses are taking advantage of the latest technology trends to improve productivity, efficiency, and profitability. However, to fully reap the benefits of digital transformation, organisations also need to ensure that they are not blind to the associated cyber security risks.

    Here I take a look at some of the technology trends which, if not managed correctly, could leave your organisation more exposed to cyber-attacks.

    1. Cloud proliferation (‘cloudification’) 

    Many businesses are making the move to the cloud. In fact, recent statistics put the figure at as high as 96 per cent of businesses adopting cloud technologies in one form or another.

    However, while businesses are adopting cloud technologies at a rapid rate, many organisations aren’t aware of the additional cyber security risks of migrating infrastructure and systems to the cloud. A lot of the time problems stem from the fact that organisations are unsure about who is responsible for cloud security. Amazon’s Shared Responsibility model, for instance, means that while Amazon has a responsibility to physically secure its infrastructure, AWS customers are required to safeguard their own applications and data.

    Common cloud security issues that organisations need to be aware of include insecure configuration of infrastructure, weak authentication mechanisms, and vulnerabilities within web applications.

    2. The Internet of Things

    Organisations are using more connected devices than ever before. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2021 the number of connected devices will be as high as 27.1 billion. Collectively, these devices are referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT).

    However, every IoT device used across your business represents a potential entry point for cyber criminals to exploit. Sadly, many manufacturers do not always prioritise cyber security as highly as they should and fail to thoroughly test their products before they are released. Additionally, many devices use the same software development kits and default passwords, meaning that many vulnerabilities are often widespread.

    For example, an IoT malware known as Mirai managed to spread across the world by exploiting devices shipped with the same out-of-the box credentials.

    Given that less than half of all companies are able to detect IoT breaches, it is very important that businesses start taking security in this area very seriously.

    3. Bring Your Own Device

    More and more businesses are seeing the benefits of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programme. Having a BYOD policy can help to boost employee productivity; however, if not implemented well, this can create serious issues for cyber security and data protection.

    Managing and protecting a wide range of devices can be a real challenge for any organisation’s security team. Plus with mobile malware on the rise, the risk of employee devices being used to access company data is a problem that is only set to grow.

    4. Remote working

    It is common for companies to offer employees the ability to work from home – it can save money, help attract and retain talent, and foster a healthy work-life balance, which contributes to better productivity. However, remote working also requires employees to be able to access company IT systems from outside locations, which can present a range of cyber security risks. In fact, statistics suggest that more than a third of organisations have experienced a cyber security incident entirely due to remote working.

    5. Big Data

    Businesses are capturing and analysing more data than ever. Big data has opened up opportunities to improve efficiency, streamline decision making, boost customer satisfaction, and increase revenues.

    However, Big Data is not without pitfalls. For example, if your business is collecting a vast amount of information, you need to consider whether or not this data is suitably protected. Storing a great deal of personal data could also potentially make your business a more attractive target.

    The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also makes it an offence to process personal data that is not relevant or required for the purpose it is being collected for.

    6. Advancements in artificial intelligence 

    There are many examples of artificial intelligence (AI) being used to strengthen the capabilities of organisations to defend their digital assets. However, just as AI can be used to defend your business, it can also be used to attack it.

    One example of this is the use of polymorphic malware, which is able to constantly change its code so that it cannot be detected by antivirus software and firewalls.

    How to embrace digital transformation yet stay secure

    As your business grows it is vital to continually assess its security posture to help ensure that appropriate controls and procedures are in place to protect it.

    Cyber security assessments such as vulnerability scanning and penetration testing are essential (see this guide to Penetration Testing from Redscan) and should be performed on a regular basis - especially after IT upgrades and system changes. Assessments can help to identify a wide range of vulnerabilities affecting networks, devices, and applications. They can also be used to help improve employee training and guide future IT and cyber security investments.  

    Dakota Murphey has a wealth of experience in business management and has previously worked as a business growth consultant for over 10 years. She now enjoys sharing her knowledge through her writing and connecting with other like-minded professionals. Find out what else she's been up to on Twitter: @Dakota_Murphey

    About the author

    Tina Lauro Pollock is the editing eye at Sync NI and looks after its clients. She has a particular interest in the gaming sector, big data, women in tech and business, and start-ups. To connect with Tina, feel free to seek her out on Twitter, find her on LinkedIn, or schedule a chat by sending her an email.

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