While each of the last several years has been dubbed “the year of the hack,” 2017 may actually deserve that infamous title. Major breaches at large organizations like Equifax, Deloitte and Verizon have all taken place in the last year.

In fact, Identity Force reports that 43 of the worst data breaches of all time happened in 2017. We can only hope that this year will feel a bit more secure in our digital world, or at the very least avoid even more impressive catastrophes.

With the growth of security and technology today, we should be seeing fewer cyberattacks—not more. To avoid becoming this year’s disheartening statistic, organizations need to be more proactive about identifying and preventing cyber threats and heed the following predictions:

More (IoT) Data, More Leaks

As the use of IoT devices increases both by consumers and across industries, people and organizations are benefitting from the additional features and increased data gathered from these connected devices. The market is growing by leaps and bounds, yet a number of IoT interfaces do not have robust security.

Botnets like Reaper and Mirai may just be the beginning, and we expect to see an increased number of data breaches in IoT devices this year. With this in mind, organizations should conduct thorough research before purchasing new IoT technologies. If a device has a hidden administrative account with a hard-coded password, or runs an older framework with known vulnerabilities, it may be impossible to correct.

When purchasing such devices, make sure you can upgrade the firmware, or consider devices that automatically update their own firmware. Review your environment on a quarterly basis and keep these devices up-to-date to avoid possible security issues. If a device in your environment is fundamentally flawed, you may need to turn it off to mitigate a serious risk.

Regulation will prompt action

Regulations such as NIST 800-171 and the upcoming GDPR will prompt companies to examine their overall security strategy and mitigate risks to their private information. Some companies will do this, some will not.

Data privacy is more important than ever and ensuring that companies abide by these standards will ultimately strengthen a companies’ business. Many U.S organizations will use a standard such as GDPR to incentivize putting a holistic plan in place. While undergoing the compliance process, it’s important for organizations to ensure they are enforcing authorization into systems and networks, while protecting content behind firewalls, and having a plan of action for how to respond in the event of a potential breach. These three areas are key: authorization, protection, and response.

Business as usual

Despite the growth of data breaches impacting major companies in 2017, a number of organizations still do not take security seriously. After all, how many companies go out of business because they mishandle customer data?

We expect to see two or more major breaches in 2018 that impact millions of consumers. To reduce the risk of a breach, organizations should monitor security updates impacting their systems, and teams should hold a monthly review to make sure they are up to date. In addition, expand beyond simple perimeter security by using rights-management software. This actively protects data stored within and leaving the network to add another level of security.

A good rights-management solution protects content in transit, at rest, and while in-use. Employing a data-loss protection (DLP) or a cloud access security broker (CASB) to actively monitor network traffic can also add a layer of protection for information leaving your internal network.

Cybersecurity Culture

In 2018, more companies will adopt “security-first” thinking and begin to develop a more robust cybersecurity culture. A company is much like a castle, and security is the strength of the moat surrounding a castle, protecting the king, queen, and other residents from invaders. Except in this case, instead of people you have Personal Identifiable Information (PII), proprietary files, intellectual capital, medical information, legal documents, and other information that should only be seen and shared with those people and organizations who have received authorization.

Adopting security-first thinking means strengthening the moat as the primary line of defense for the castle and its inhabitants. For organizations to adopt such a culture, people need to be educated on the importance of security with regular awareness campaigns, which includes training procedures such as simulated security attacks with phishing and other attack vectors. Additionally, companies need to enforce improved record keeping policies to manage and encrypt key organizational data.

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Erik Brown

Erik Brown

Erik Brown is chief technology officer at GigaTrust, a leading provider of endpoint security and document in-use protection for Windows, iOS and Android devices.