5 Cyber Security Threats to Businesses in 2019

2018 was ‘the year of privacy’, raising questions across the globe about the security of sensitive information. With the rate of cyber security incidents increasing by a staggering 33% each year, it’s an ever-pressing issue for Australian businesses. So, what are the key cyber security threats to consider in 2019, and how can your team be empowered to respond effectively?

Of most concern in 2018 was the widely publicised Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, where Facebook users’ personal data was collected and used for political campaigns. Immediately following the privacy breaches, Facebook’s market value decreased by over $119 billion, and users’ trust in the platform hit an all-time low. If the Cambridge Analytica scandal taught us anything, it’s that a strong cyber security strategy is key to overall business performance.

However, an organisation's defences are only as strong as its employees. An inclusive learning program is crucial to building capability and ensuring that each member of your team can understand and respond to cyber security threats. Knowing where exactly these threats come from will help to form your company’s overall cyber security strategy.

Types of Cyber Criminals

According to the Federal Government, the main perpetrators of cybercrime in Australian business can be split into four groups:

  • Criminals unaffiliated with the business in search of financial gain
  • Clients, either former or present, attempting to compromise your business
  • Competitors looking to build advantage
  • Current or past employees who may accidentally or intentionally compromise data

With these groups in mind, let’s take a look at the main cyber security issues for organisations in 2019.

Current Cyber Security Threats to Australian Businesses

1. Cloud Vulnerabilities

Australian businesses are expected to spend $5.6 billion on cloud storage this year, a 20% increase from 2018. As a result of this growth, cloud services will become popular targets for cyber attacks due to their storage of passwords and customer information. A common misconception is that cloud security measures are implemented solely by the service provider, so creating a strong security culture within your organisation is essential.

2. The Internet of Things

A growing phenomenon, the ‘IoT’ refers to the internet connectivity of ordinary objects. Think smart appliances, wearable devices, surveillance technology and self-regulated lighting, all joining to form a complex system of data transmission. The internet connectivity of these devices (often lacking in safety features) makes them vulnerable to network intrusions by providing new access points for hackers. 87% of all Australian and New Zealand businesses last year were using IoT technology in some area of their operations, a figure expected to increase throughout 2019.

3. Phishing 

One of the most common tools in cyber attacks, phishing remains a key cyber security issue for Australian businesses. Just last year, scammers distributed an email linking recipients to a cloned myGov website, where they were then asked to enter their banking details. The popularity of these deception-based attacks comes from the ease at which they can be executed, so be sure to make phishing simulation training a part of your overall cyber security strategy.

4. 'Fake News'

The number-one buzzword over the past two years, ‘fake news’ in cybercrime poses potential risks to an organisation’s ongoing success. For example, bot accounts across social media and the internet may be used to spread false, malicious information to damage the public image of your business. According to McAfee, one particular bot account amassed over 1,000 followers within a month by harassing an organisation over Twitter. Though less likely than the other issues listed here, the potential of such an attack shouldn’t be overlooked.

5. Coordinated Cyber Attacks

Perhaps most dangerous of the five cyber security threats is a growth in the agile and collaborative nature of cybercrime throughout 2019. Cybercriminals are increasingly acting as part of ‘malware-as-a-service families’, forming alliances to grow their influence and maximise global efficiency. Changes have occurred not just in the who of cybercrime, but also the how. Cyber attacks now involve a combination of tactics, such as phishing, ransomware and the use of artificial intelligence. The coordinated nature of these activities means they rarely fall within one particular category, making detection and recovery even more difficult.

Build your Cyber Security Strategy

Although it’s impossible to eliminate these risks completely, there are several measures you can take to best protect your business.

The nature of cybercrime itself is changing constantly, so it’s important to make cyber security an ongoing consideration. Be sure to update your cyber security policy regularly, keeping your staff supported and informed at every stage. By doing so, you’ll create a strong security culture and make data protection the responsibility of every employee.

Remember that cyber security threats bring serious business risks, not just IT problems!

This post was authored by Erica Dearn and originally published to www.savv-e.com.au.

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