5 security predictions for 2013 and beyond

online security

We are merely scratching the surface when it comes to how SMBs will be able to leverage technology to boost profitability and agility.

You may not have noticed as it crept up but you only need to look back 10 years to see how mobile and online technology has infiltrated into many aspects of the SMB workplace. Online marketing, holding your whole customer list in the palm of your hand, instant access to cloud applications, email while on the road and taking orders 24 x 7 through your website are just some examples of things we now take for granted.

Even though we have come so far already, we are not done yet, not by a long shot. In fact, we are merely scratching the surface when it comes to how SMBs will be able to leverage technology to boost profitability and agility. Just imagine the potential when all your customers, partners and employees are connected to you with consistent broadband spanning the whole country.

While exciting as this transformation may be, there are pitfalls to avoid and new threats to the anticipated benefits will emerge. Don’t think that just because you are not a multi-national corporation that you are not a target. As an SMB you are actually right in the firing line. Late last year, researchers at Trend Micro uncovered evidence that the IT infrastructure of Australian SMBs was specifically targeted by cyber criminals. They were able to load malicious software on the PCs of over 3000 small businesses for the purpose of potentially conducting a range of underhanded activities such as click fraud, sending spam and launching cyber-attacks against other organisations.

What makes small businesses particularly attractive to cyber criminals? Mainly it’s the combination of the fact that most SMBs do not have dedicated IT security resources and they have a diverse connected network of PCs and mobile workers with access to valuable information. Add to this equation that many SMBs conduct business with larger companies and government departments and thus make a nice springboard into bigger and better attacks and you should now be able to see why you might be a nice carrot for the bad guys.

So what are some specific security trends you need to be on the lookout for?

1.     Wider choice of computing platforms – no longer is it just a choice between Mac or PC.
People can chose from range of platforms and devices that best meets individual needs. For an SMB this means that your users are accessing your IT services and data from different types of devices, each with its own set of security challenges, which can prove to be a minefield to keep track of.

2.     Data breaches are increasing and will impact data stored on local servers as well as in the cloud.
The cloud is just another option for infrastructure and application delivery so take the time to understand the risks of both options then take actions to mitigate the risks that may be present. The last thing you need is to feature in the latest data breach headline.

3.     Cybercriminals will heavily abuse legitimate cloud services.
For cybercriminals, cloud computing is merely another technology to abuse. SMBs may find it hard to block malicious activity since it may occur within legitimate cloud services. Cloud service providers may do their part in getting rid of certain malicious activity but it will not stop cybercriminals from abusing the services.

4.     Mobile phones are now under attack.
Just think how much data you can store on a modern smartphone and the number of online services that people access with them and you will soon realise that they have to be well and truly on the radar of cybercriminals. Trend Micro estimates that this year on the Android platform alone, there will be over one million pieces of malicious software discovered. Mobile platforms are now as powerful and as functional as PCs therefore it stands to reason that they will be attacked like them too.

5.     Conventional malware threats will gradually evolve, building on what has been learned in previous attacks.
Added sophistication means that attacks are more targeted than ever before, resulting in higher “success” rates than ever before. People are often shown attack emails that are crafted for them, specifically meaning they are far more likely to click on the link or attachment.