By now, most business owners and individuals realize that cybersecurity is important. They may know someone personally who has been the victim of an attack, or they may have read about major data breaches of trusted institutions in the news.
Thankfully, this rising awareness of the importance of cybersecurity is having a positive effect on the population. Individuals are becoming more likely to practice good security habits, like choosing strong passwords and using different passwords for different accounts. And business owners are becoming more likely to invest in strong cybersecurity measures, like working with a cybersecurity consultant and investing in better physical infrastructure.
However, in the coming years, cybersecurity is only going to become more important.
Why is this the case?
Cyberattacks on the Rise
First, and most importantly, the number and potential severity of cyberattacks is poised to increase, and for several reasons:
- More types of attacks. There’s an ever-increasing diversity of available cyberattacks a motivated hacker could try to execute. Skilled cybercriminals can leverage entire networks of bots to try and overwhelm a server, or they can use a phishing attack to try and install ransomware to hold a system hostage. Unskilled cybercriminals can use social engineering to steal someone’s login credentials, or just make an educated guess about their password and try to get in. This increasing diversity in available attacks has a couple of powerful effects. First, existing cybercriminals have more tools in their arsenal, giving them more options to launch attacks. Second, a wider number of people can execute attacks, since unskilled attack methods are becoming more readily available. Both have the ability to increase the total number of attacks attempted.
- Increasing access worldwide. We also need to consider the fact that the internet is becoming available to people all over the world. Every day, millions of people around the world either connect to the internet for the first time, or upgrade their internet access in a way that changes their life. This access means we’re going to be dealing with a larger number of potential cybercriminals than ever before (and not all countries are actively working against them). It also means the number of potential targets is increasing.
- More devices and more networks. Throughout the developed world, we’re seeing an increase in the number of devices in circulation and the number of network connection points. By 2025, there could be more than 75.44 billion connected devices all over the world. More devices, more networks, and more connections means there’s going to be more vulnerabilities. Even a single weakness in a given system could cause the entire system to collapse.
- Value and severity. The average destructive potential of a cyberattack is also increasing. According to one recent report, the average cost of a data breach in the United States is now $8.19 million, and the average size of a data breach now includes access to 25,575 records on average. The average attack is increasing in size and scope, affecting more people and causing more damage. Accordingly, proactive cybersecurity measures (which are cheap by comparison) are looking more and more attractive.
Increased Reliance on Technology
We’re also seeing increased reliance on technology by people all over the world. For example:
- Digital systems. Almost everything we do is becoming digitized. We’re all now used to managing our finances online, with the help of online banking and brokerage accounts. But soon, we could be relying on digital systems for almost every aspect of our lives, from directing our self-driving cars how to navigate traffic to automatically ordering groceries when we’re low on a given item.
- IoT and connected devices. The internet of things (IoT) and connected devices are becoming more commonplace as well, especially in business. When even a single compromised node on the network can collapse the system, this becomes increasingly dangerous.
- Remote work. We also need to consider the rise in remote work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses worked quickly to transition to an environment where employees could work from home, using their own devices and networks in many cases, but they may not have put ample security measures in place. In the coming years, as remote work grows to become the new normal, cybersecurity is going to become more important than ever; businesses will be responsible for securing data and assets held by individual people all around the world.
The good news is, while cybersecurity is increasing in importance, some of the most important steps you can take are also the easiest. Simple habits, like choosing strong passwords and securing your connections, can make you much safer in the long run. Beyond that, if you’re a business owner, make sure you work with a cybersecurity consultant so you have a better understanding of your own security weak points.