If anything, 2014 was a wake-up call about the growing dangers of cyber-crime and hacking. Last year at this time Target got hit with what was then the biggest retail hack in U.S. history, until this past fall Home Depot succumbed to an epic attack that compromised 56 million credit cards. The Sony Pictures debacle at the end of 2014 over the release of the movie “The Interview” further highlighted the increasingly brash and bold nature of this dark industry.
The latest new revelation of cyber-crime is of a global banking heist in the past 18 months that netted at least $300M and possibly upwards of $1B. The cyber-criminals in this case operated a very sophisticated network that sent malware and other malicious tools to various international bank employees, which when downloaded gave the attackers internal access to monitor transactions and siphon off massive amounts of money.
There are some dire predictions for the world of cyber-security in 2015. But all is not bleak. There are growing trends that are countering the bad forces out there, but it’s going to take a lot of resources to keep things in balance. Here are some industry-specific trends we should expect in the year ahead.
1. Cyber-crime will get more brash and brazen
First, the bad news! Cyber-criminals unfortunately have been on top of the latest technologies and are upping-the-ante of their attacks, in some ways faster than the good guys are able to respond. In a recent interview, Pat Peterson, the founder of cybersecurity firm Agari, put it this way: “It’s sad and embarrassing, but I think the cybercriminals will overrun [the cybersecurity] industry in 2015. . . . . Even if you’re a small restaurant chain, a health care provider, or a startup, there is gold in your data and criminals are going to figure out how to monetize that in ways you can’t imagine.”
2. Global cyber-security spending is on the rise
According to a Gartner report last August, worldwide spending on information security would reach $71.1 billion in 2014, an increase of 7.9 percent over 2013, with the data loss prevention segment recording the fastest growth at 18.9 percent. Total information security spending will grow a further 8.2 percent in 2015 to reach $76.9 billion.
3. Cyber-security job demand will sky-rocket
Prompted by recent high profile retail security breaches, the cyber-security industry will continue to experience robust job growth in 2015. According to one recent study, the demand for cyber security experts is increasing at 3.5 times the pace of the overall IT job market as businesses are prompted by the need for personnel in cyber security related fields, including those in business continuity, CISSP, IT risk, and penetration testing jobs.
4. Emails will continue to be a central point of vulnerability
Email is still the easiest way for criminals to breach your business’s security and it will continue to be the case in 2015. The Sony hack appears to have been instigated through emails, as did the recently revealed global bank heist. Never click hyperlinks in suspicious or unverified emails, especially ones requesting information or payments. Keep in mind that legitimate institutions that offer payment options will always have HTTPS websites equipped with SSL protection. Implementing desktop and network firewalls and anti-spam email software also will reduce the likelihood of these kinds of attacks.
5. Cloud-based security will take over
The cloud security market is growing leaps and bounds, going from $4.20 billion in 2014 to a predicted $8.71 billion in 2019 with a CAGR of 15.7% during the forecast period 2014-2019. As one source well states, “2015 isn’t just the year of the cloud — it’s also the year of cloud security. Reticence about the cloud based on its security vulnerabilities will recede as cloud encryption technology improves, hybrid solutions provide the right mix of scalability and security and more companies move toward outsourcing their IT security.”
Given the trends we saw in 2014, it’s safe to assume that cyber-criminals will stage increasingly brazen and bold attacks in the year(s) ahead. Nothing is safe anymore and individuals and businesses need to do everything possible to keep attentive and protect their assets. Now is the time to take deliberate preventative measures to make your website and infrastructure cyber-strong. Becoming extra vigilant, tracking the latest trends, and adopting cyber-security best practices will go a long ways toward protecting you and your organization in 2015.