5 Cybersecurity Trends in the Professional Services Sector

Cybersecurity is an increasingly significant focus for many companies as cyberattacks become more frequent and more costly.

Which are 5 Cybersecurity trends in the professional services sector?

Professional services organizations are especially vulnerable due to the high value of the industry and the data they store — like Social Security numbers, personal financial information and classified business communications.

Employees with
non-technical backgrounds or low digital literacy often need access to networks
that store highly sensitive data. But these same employees are the most
vulnerable to cybercriminals.

The cybersecurity
landscape is changing, and every industry will need to adapt. But professional
services companies should pay the closest attention to these five trends.

1. Employee Training on Phishing and Digital Security

Hackers aren’t only
coders — they’re also social engineers. When the network becomes harder to
access, unprepared employees are one of the next best vectors of attack. One in 99 emails is a phishing attack, a fraudulent email designed to look
legitimate so an employee will click on a malicious link inside or reply with
privileged information.

Employees will need
training on digital safety: how to spot phishing emails, and also how to spot
bad links and downloads that can be a vector for viruses or other attacks.

2. Hackers Target Mobile Devices

Most phishing happens
over email. But hackers can target any device that connects to the internet
— including your smartphone. And once a hacker has access to your device,
it can be trivial to, for example, intercept and store copies of all the emails
you receive. Or use your digital credentials to gain access to confidential

IT departments will
also need to train employees on the security of personal devices, and — if
necessary — restrict what sort of devices can access sensitive data.

3. Ransomware Will Cost Businesses More

Ransomware is a term
used to describe viruses that encrypt all the files on a user’s computer and
hold them hostage for a fee. Ransomware costs small business an estimated $75 billion each year. And the ransoms continue to get higher and

One major virus — the
WannaCry ransomware — nearly shut down the British health care
system in
2016. The virus is still infecting computers, even though researchers
discovered a killswitch in the virus’ code two years ago.

In 2016, the
professional services industry in the United States had a value of $1,100
The industry’s presumed high ability to pay makes it a major target for ransomware.

professionals need to learn how to respond to this specific kind of attack, and
employees need training in digital literacy that will help them identify
ransomware attacks and refer them to a security professional.

4. Data Privacy and Data Stewardship Are Becoming High

New data regulations,
like the GDPR in Europe, have made data breaches more costly than
ever. Companies who hold on to customer data must take the necessary
precautions to defend that data by encrypting the data and restricting access
to their network. Companies must also inform customers as soon as possible
after a breach — sometimes within just a few days.

Companies, seeing the
fines paid by major businesses like Equifax and British Airways, will want to beef up their security in a way
that complies with U.S. (and possibly GDPR) regulations. These companies will
also want to prepare for the worst-case scenario — how will we know if there
has been a breach? And how will we respond?

5. Automation and AI Will Come to Cybersecurity

cybersecurity, a burnout crisis is looming on the horizon. As demand outstrips the
number of cybersecurity professionals on the job market, cybersecurity experts
are working longer hours, defending against more threats — and shouldering more
of the blame in the case of a breach. Cybercrimes are more common than ever, but
the number of people entering cybersecurity hasn’t kept up.

Enterprises, wanting
to lighten the burden placed on their IT and cybersecurity teams, are looking
for any chance to automate processes.

platforms that use artificial intelligence to beat digital threats are the
latest trend in cybersecurity solutions — even if cybersecurity experts are wary of the
technology. Be ready to see AI-based cybersecurity tools to become
commonplace in the future, but don’t expect they will make your company
invulnerable to attack.

What These Changes Mean for Professional Services

The professional
services industry will need to adapt to a changing cybersecurity landscape. As
data breaches become more common, businesses will need to make sure their
employees can spot suspicious emails and links. And even the most secure
company should prepare for the possibility of a data breach.

Cybersecurity is constantly advancing, but so are cybercriminals. Professional services industry will need to stay on top of these trends to keep their information safe.

About the author

Kayla Matthews is a technology and cybersecurity writer, and the owner of ProductivityBytes.com. To learn more about Kayla and her recent projects, visit her About Me page.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – cybersecurity, hacking)

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