IT security is locked in an eternal struggle against cyber threats, and both continue to evolve on a daily basis. As viruses, malware, and hackers find more elaborate and sophisticated ways to invade company servers and steal data, the burden is placed on businesses to protect themselves with the latest network security technologies. On top of that, businesses are constantly implementing new technology into their IT infrastructure to stay ahead of the competition, resulting in a more vulnerable system if security issues are not handled properly.

Furthermore, some small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) still make the mistake of assuming that free antivirus software and traditional firewalls are enough to keep hackers and malware away. A growing number, however, are using the help of managed security service providers. These providers offer comprehensive IT security strategies for targeted attacks. And as businesses deploy the newest tech trends, they must also stay abreast of the latest security trends as well.

Here are the network security trends of 2016 that managed service providers and businesses alike will have to look out for:

Cloud security
As more business processes and documents are migrated to the cloud, there is a chance that onsite IT departments can lose control over managing and maintaining company data. The cloud itself does not necessarily make company data more susceptible to attacks, rather it is compromised by human error or poor system management. For example, if IT departments fail to restrict access of certain documents for company members only, data is more likely to be stolen. Hackers can also easily access the company cloud through an employee’s email if they don’t have a strong password set or use the same password for multiple accounts.  

With more businesses realizing the potential benefits of moving their workloads to the cloud, security will become increasingly important as well. Therefore, we are likely to see a greater demand for managed service providers to host, manage, and monitor cloud files.

Standardized secure platforms
Initially, businesses thought that they can get powerful security by purchasing technologies and security products from different vendors. While this created security “depth”, the strategy can be too complex to manage and therefore more vulnerable to potential risks. Now the challenge for managed service providers is to create a platform to simplify the security of these technologies. This can be achieved by standardizing the security infrastructure used by individual devices, which will minimize the risk of malware infection.

In the long run, this will help businesses unify their security systems and have every device remain compliant. It’s also easier for companies to track security protocols, workloads, and data for each device, while allowing IT managers to efficiently pinpoint problem areas and potential weak spots.

Internet of Things (IoT)
While mobile and wearable devices have had their own set of security challenges, IoT offers a new potential path for cybercriminals. As always-on internet connectivity becomes more integrated into businesses, there is more pressure for IT departments to track several entry points. Although the popularization of the IoT may bring exciting business opportunities, it’s important for business owners to understand that access to these devices should be limited and secure. This means simplified security management interfaces, encryption of sensitive data, and oversight of IoT technologies are also necessary to maintain a safe network.

Ransomware and incident response
Ransomware is a growing concern for many organizations. This type of malware is embedded into seemingly normal emails and, if opened, blocks access to vital data until business owners pay a ‘ransom’, which is usually demanded in Bitcoin. There’s also no guarantee that data will be returned to the business once they do pay the ransom. Nowadays, hackers will continue to extort cash from a business until they find their next target. According to Cyber Threat Alliance, CryptoWall ransomware has already exploited over $325 million worldwide since 2015, and this amount is expected to increase in the coming months.

Managed service providers will therefore focus on incident response rather than prevention when it comes to these matters. While educating companies about better internet practices is essential, accepting that ransomware and other malicious software can possibly infiltrate your systems is just as important. Effective backup policies give businesses the power to respond, shut down the infected machine, and restore data quickly on another computer. Also, managed service providers will likely invest more time on hosting data backups, investigating the root cause of the incidents, and rehearsing the appropriate course of action so that threat of malicious software can be reduced.

Security is always important
Network security should always remain high on your agenda, regardless of what industry you are in. As a business owner it is not the time to be complacent with security now considering more devices and technologies are being introduced every year and the average cost of data breaches in the US was $3.79 million in 2015. Managed service providers are constantly improving their services to ensure that businesses like yours don’t fall victim to these security threats. So keep these network security trends in mind before meeting with your managed service provider to install a new IT infrastructure.

A successful business is a safe business. The year ahead will likely produce more volatile security concerns, but with the right technologies and managed services in place, you can keep your business safe. WhiteOwl is an experienced managed service provider that can help protect your network. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.