This post is sponsored by Microsoft Office.
One of the most important topics in business today is security.
Despite all the advancements in data security, most companies are still vulnerable. Last year, 80 percent of US businesses were compromised, according to Microsoft Office’s – most of them small businesses.
The cost of cyber attacks is at an estimated $4 billion dollars every year, with a loss of $3 trillion in global market value.
Data vulnerability is a huge problem today. How will cyber security improve for tomorrow? What steps can businesses take to ensure they are fully protected?
Are Data Breaches Going to Be Inevitable?
With all that organizations can do to protect their data, and by extension that of the consumer, why do cyber criminals still wield so much power? One of the problems is the technology itself. As it evolves, so do the cyber attacks.
When asked about the future of security over the next few years, cyber intelligence advisor Dr. Jessica Barker predicted more automation and machine learning with less reliance on people.
She expects a sort of hybrid system of human and machine intelligence – but warns the innovations in cyber security may end up being used against businesses in the future. Cyber criminals will simply figure out a way to hack the machine learning.
Where Security and Privacy Are Headed
Even with the constant race between cybersecurity experts and hackers to outwit one another, there are data security innovations that indicate a more secure future.
In the webcast Bret Arsenault, Microsoft’s Chief Information Security Officer, explains that with the technology available today, it is possible to enhance both user experience and security.
Instead of relying on passwords and security cards to access data, it is the use of biometrics that is leveling the playing field in favor of businesses. Fingerprints, iris detection, and other biometric security identifiers make it easier to integrate user access while making data more secure.
Hackers may have methods for figuring out someone’s password or security question answers. Recreating bio-identifiers is one very large step closer to impossible.
Another growing problem with data security today – and its emerging solution – is the tendency to stitch together security products to secure a business’s digital environment. This becomes a particular challenge for small businesses, which is part of why so many are left vulnerable.
The solution is to use products that already have security built-in. This type of software is better protected, and it reduces an organization’s operational costs.
Compliance and Consumer Privacy
As we approach May 2018, when the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, will go into effect in the EU, many businesses in the European Union are focusing on becoming compliant with the new rules for enhancing consumer privacy.
There is a shift occurring in the US as well. Some tech companies are starting to take their responsibility for data security very seriously, putting in the time, effort and expense to create greater transparency around how they treat and protect consumer data.
Experts believe that forward-thinking companies that spend the time now proving they can be trusted are the ones that will be able to innovate in the future. Those that wait for legislation to force them to improve their data security may be in for an unwelcome surprise.
Savvy consumers are actively choosing products and services, such as smart home devices and business apps, based on the provider’s stance on privacy. T
his means data security is no longer a compliance issue – it is what consumers want. The reality is, it is the platforms – the app stores, browsers and other tech platforms – that are highly responsive to the consumer.
If consumers are uncomfortable with a particular tech company, it is possible that in the future we will see the platforms pushing those companies out.
Steps Towards a More Secure Future
While culture shifts and innovations like biometrics and products with build-in security offer businesses more today in terms of powerful, affordable protection, there are still important steps that every organization must take to prevent data hacking.
Especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) permeates more of our world, we’re looking at more points of vulnerability in the future.
- Outsource your backup to the cloud. For small to mid-sized businesses, this is one of the most important advantages of cloud-based technology. Today, it is possible to rely upon a specialized team with all the advanced security and encryption measures, disaster recovery, and real-time protection capabilities of an enterprise-level corporation – at an affordable price.
- Talk to a cyber security specialist. There are so many things you can do to better protect your business. Some are small tweaks, while others may be process overhauls. By consulting with someone who can look at your entire system, identify your vulnerabilities, and help you create an action plan to bolster your data security, you will help to ensure your business doesn’t become another cyber attack statistic.
- Train your employees. A business is only as protected as the security habits of its employees. Taking simple steps like regularly changing passwords or switching to biometric identifiers can reduce the chances of a network intrusion significantly. It is also important to talk to everyone about security protocols, such as not clicking on a fake advertisement or phishing email.
- Test your system regularly. You need to know what your vulnerabilities are and that each is secured.
No matter how proficient our data security technology becomes, hackers aren’t likely to disappear.
Data theft has become a persistent industry. Not because the technology doesn’t exist to protect data, nor because it is even very profitable, but rather because we live in a digitized world. So, we have to deal with digital theft.
With the use of machine intelligence, stronger encryption measures, and by shifting to products with in-built security, businesses are certainly outpacing the cyber criminals.
Those businesses that do take advantage of the technology available today to improve data security are the ones that are less likely to become compromised in the future. For more, take a look at the webcast and see how the future is being decoded.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Microsoft Office, but opinions are my own.