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The 5 most important Cyber Security trends in 2016

In 2015 we saw cyber security continue its ascent as a hot topic of discussion and a growing concern among organizations all over the world.

It is estimated that companies lost between an astounding $375 and $575 billion last year on hack attacks. While you likely read about some of the largest data breaches that were plastered over the news in 2015.

Some 80% of small and medium-size businesses don’t use data protection and less than half use email security, according to Intel Security.

Thus, the ability for small business to safeguard their critical data continues to grow as one of the top areas of IT investment in 2016 and beyond.

Luckily, with cloud technologies, safeguarding your critical business information has become less cost prohibitive, with enterprise-grade security now available to SMBs.

Through extensive research with industry experts, top Microsoft partners, and customer research, Microsoft created the ModernBiz campaign, aimed at driving awareness and adoption cloud technologies to put business owners’ minds at ease.

Looking forward, here are some of the trends that will be important to consider if you want to safeguard your business in 2016.

1. Mobile Malware growth will result in more security issues

2016 could be a year when cyber-criminals will focus on targeting mobile devices by attacking the underlying operating systems and releasing more malware-infected apps.

China leads the world in the number of mobile users and malware on these devices will surface as a huge problem. A study by Tsinghua University, Microsoft Research and China's Ministry of Science and Technology found that only a quarter of apps on local app stores are safe.

The adoption of mobile payment systems will also lead to a surge in hack activity related to stealing information from new payment processing technologies like EMV credit cards, contactless RFID and mobiles wallets like Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

As a Microsoft partner you can ensure that sensitive data on your customer’s mobile devices is always protected with built-in encryption capabilities like Enterprise Data Protection and BitLocker. Find more information in the Safeguard Your Business resources available as part of the ModernBiz initiative.

2. Online Extortion and Hacktivism will continue to increase in 2016

A rapid growth in Online Extortion and Hacktivism is expected in 2016 with more sophisticated ways to steal information and gain control of web-enabled devices.

Malware programs like Ransomware might be used more frequently by hacktivists in order to encrypt the victim’s personal information like photos or conversations and extort money online to regain control of online accounts and devices.

In this blog post Microsoft partner Trend Micro discusses provides more information about Ransomware and how you can protect yourself.

3. Spear Phishing and Smishing (password recovery scams)

Spear phishing is one of the most common e-mail fraud attempts carried out by criminal hackers to obtain unauthorized access to confidential data.

Since phishing attacks are no longer limited to email, SMS phishing (Smishing) is becoming more common, especially by hackers creating password recovery scams.

A criminal hacker only needs a victim’s email address and a mobile phone number to start a password recovery process and compromise their account, as per the TNW news blog.

“Microsoft partners can talk to their customers about built-in threat protection on PCs and devices with Windows Defender. And most importantly they can detect and get alerts about security breaches with Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) as part of the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS),”, says Manveer Sahota, Enterprise Mobility Management Partner Lead at Microsoft.

4. Cyber-attacks cause physical damage

One of the recent hacking attacks in late December 2015 has caused a physical damage at German Steel Mill by cyber-criminals using sophisticated social engineering and spear-phishing tactics to manipulate control systems and gain initial access to the steel mill’s office network.

This is the second case after a cyber attack against Stuxnet in late 2007 in which a digital attack had caused actual damage of equipment. Since then experts have warned that it was only a matter of time before other destructive attacks would occur.

In the event of this type of a hack attack or even a natural disaster it is very important to have a disaster recovery and data backup plan.

Microsoft partners should be aware that you can get your customers business back up and running in no time when the unexpected happens with Azure Site Recovery, which offers an automated disaster recovery solution in the cloud.

5. IoT: Vulnerable devices

In 2016 we will see major growth in the intelligence of just about everything from smart TV’s to smart wearable medical devices, automated cars and so on. This is bound to happen despite the possibility of the associated cyber security risks.

All mobile devices that connect to IoT devices through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are vulnerable and this makes it easier for hackers to access private or secure networks, causing mobile device driven attacks.

I would recommend looking into Microsoft Intune, which provides mobile device management, mobile application management, and PC management capabilities from the cloud. This includes comprehensive settings management for mobile devices, including remote actions such as passcode reset, device lock, and data encryption

While the above trends certainly pose a scary prospect to our customers, as a Microsoft partner they raise a tremendous opportunity for you to talk to your customers about Safeguarding their Business from these threats. Want to learn more about marketing these solutions and more to current and new customers? Visit Microsoft’s ModernBiz page and get started with marketing your solutions today!

Do look out for more posts on this subject and related ModernBiz categories in our ongoing blog series.

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