5 Cybersecurity Considerations for 2016

Startup CEOs should use the new year to evaluate their cybersecurity, especially since 2016 marks numerous concerns for business owners. The prominence of cybersecurity issues seems to grow. In an annual PwC, CIO, and CSO survey of more than 9,600 global executives, 41 percent of US respondents cited one or more cybersecurity incidents in the past year, with that number continuing to rise. It’s demonstrative that cybersecurity concerns are extremely prominent entering the new year, especially as hackers have more tools at their disposal than ever.

The projected cybersecurity issues of 2016 may be speculative at this point, but history and expert analysis would advise prudence for any startup CEO. Hard work turn can turn to devastating losses in the instance of a cybersecurity hack.

The Rise of IoT

IoT, or “Internet of Things,” is the idea that certain things can be made more functional and efficient by being connected to a network. Examples range from the large-scale, such as RFID chips that connect to a shipping company’s tracking system, to the more small-scale, such as printers that provide the option to order new ink when it runs out.

There’s little doubt that life and work can be made considerably easier by the IoT, but there are caveats — particularly in the form of morally questionable data collection. IoT-ready devices are particularly adept at providing information ranging from a consumer’s product usage. Some even use hidden microphone tech designed to “improve consumer experience.”

When sensitive data is collected en masse, there’s the potential for hackers to obtain that information and use it to their advantage. Never before has such large chunks of data regarding people’s browsing history or behaviors been available, which in and of itself is a cybersecurity concern.

Mobile Malware

We often associate the terms “virus” and “malware” with desktops. They are, after all, designed to take over desktops — or at least they were. This was before the age of smartphones. With smartphones becoming the device of choice for many consumers, it makes sense that hackers are busy crafting malware that can infiltrate your phone and gobble up all sorts of personal data, from personal photos to your contact book.

With a projected over 215 million online shoppers in the US alone in 2018, it makes sense that hackers have already begun devoting resources to crafting mobile malware. Although a complete mobile device meltdown has yet to take place across the industry, several weaker mobile operating systems could be at risk in the coming year.

Digital Banking and Financial Transactions

New tech like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and chip-based credit cards make the possibilities of card-not-present fraud a lot less viable, though it also raises the risk of digital theft if a particular device is exploited or a database is hacked containing sensitive information. As one credit card fraud potential window closes another one seems to open with the digital transition, something that all CEOs should be aware of for future transactions, especially if their data is stored within the cloud. When your local identity information is being sent to a shared cloud environment, the risky synchronization requirements can lead to holes in SaaS or IDaaS cloud providers that could put your data at risk.

Weaponized Data

Our browsing habits should be private and secure, but that doesn’t stop certain hackers from accessing undesirable information — like you accessing an inappropriate website — and blackmailing you over that information. Even worse would be a personal photo that could harm your reputation. If you have any data on your computer or mobile device that could potentially incriminate you or put your company’s reputation at risk, it’s fully possible that a hacker will obtain it and financially blackmail you over it. Welcome to the new age of exploitative cybercrime.

Prevalent Social Engineering

Social engineers target human nature and emotion to generate a lead, sale, or click-through. Masqueraded email messages and fake social media profiles to advance an agenda are two common examples of social engineering in full form, something that is unfortunately becoming very predominant. As CEO, you should be wary of all social media content or general internet content unless it comes from a trusted source. In this age it’s hard to tell the genuineness of content or a profile in general.

IoT, mobile malware, digital banking, data blackmail and social engineering are some of the primary cybersecurity risks that you should be aware of as a CEO. Taking precaution can be the difference between success and data sabotage.

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Written by:
Kayla Matthews is a tech productivity blogger who writes for MakeUseOf and The Gadget Flow. Follow Kayla on Google+ and Twitter, or read her latest posts on her blog, Productivity Bytes.
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