As South Carolina businesses rely increasingly on technology to improve efficiency, drive down costs, and generally make our lives easier, we inadvertently introduce a growing number of risks. The speed with which new technologies enter the market makes it increasingly difficult for cyber security initiatives to keep up.
In 2018 alone, more than a billion people were affected by corporate data breaches, either as a result of a hack or simply poor management of the data stored by these companies. It’s becoming part of a businesses’ code of ethics to protect the information entrusted to them by clients, but delivering on that promise is easier said than done.
From the Aadhaar hack which compromised the data of 1.1 billion Indian citizens — including identity and biometric information that can be used to open a bank account or receive financial assistance — to Twitter asking its’ 330 million users to change their passwords after they were exposed in plain text, cyber security issues are more prevalent, and more frequent, than ever before.
With this context in mind, let’s look at some of the biggest trends in technology coming in 2019 and the implications they have on your security.
1) Cloud Computing Continues to Grow
While cloud computing may not have been as popular of a topic as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2018, it has become a core component of modern IT infrastructure. 50% of companies claim that 31% – 60% of their entire IT systems are cloud-based, and that number continues to grow.
The fact of the matter is that cloud computing enables a lot of the biggest technological developments we currently see in the market. Its’ flexibility and efficiency enables organizations of nearly any size to explore new products and connect disparate systems for a wider range of applications.
Currently the weakest link in cloud computing is user error. Just look at the UN leak that occurred back in September; it was found that the UN’s websites had been leaking data for an extended period thanks to someone incorrectly configuring web-based applications like Trello, Jira, and Google Docs.
This Forbes article provides a great overview of the risks that can jeopardize the security of your cloud infrastructure. It can happen due to shortcuts during the development process — like embedding credentials in source code to make integrations easier — or simply not requiring multi-factor authentication for administrators.
2) Affordable Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
Included in MIT’s roundup of breakthrough technologies, AI is becoming more accessible than ever before. Once relegated to the realm of huge companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, the cloud is lowering the costs and difficulty of implementing AI, making it possible for smaller organizations to enter the playing field.
What does this mean for you? AI can help you measure and increase employee engagement, analyze market analytics to guide product development, improve customer service, and even to improve security.
Improving security is a big one and will see significant growth in 2019. Predictive analytics and AI have equipped organizations with the tools they need to diagnose, understand, and address security issues in real-time.
Despite these positive developments, AI comes with its’ fair share of hazards:
- Relying too heavily on any one entity to drive security creates a single point of failure. If one algorithm controls your security, what happens if it’s compromised? While there are steps you can take to avoid this, such as using a diverse set of algorithms, it’s still worth considering.
- Just like any great tool, AI can be used for good or bad. While it can be implemented to strengthen predictive analytics and quickly solve security problems, it can also be used by hackers to scan software and identify vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
- Another scary reality? Think about phishing emails you’ve received in the past — fake emails sent by hackers to try and collect your information or access private systems. Long gone are the days of being promised a fortune from a Nigerian prince; AI can be used to automatically write emails that mimic the writing style of your friends, making it harder to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake.
3) Authentication Gets a Makeover
Passwords have proven to be woefully insufficient when it comes to guaranteeing data security, largely due to our own negligence. One poll this past year found that 59% of people use the same password for everything, even though 91% know this poses a huge security risk.
We’ve started to see some positive progress with the implementation of biometric verification and 2-factor authentication, and 2019 promises to see even more significant developments.
- Identity as a Service, or IDaaS, is a cloud-based authentication model normally used by enterprises through a subscription. It allows for things like adaptive multi-factor authentication — where users must submit multiple factors and access is granted based on risk — and a single sign-on for the cloud, where users can sign on once and gain access to certain programs and resources based on their permissions.
- FIDO2, an extension of FIDO, uses hardware devices like your smartphone to easily authenticate to online services. Major browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Edge have already incorporated the protocol into their systems, introducing a new form of “phishing-proof” online verification.
Is Your South Carolina Business Secure for 2019?
Even though we rely more heavily on technology to run our businesses than ever before, we continue to treat security as an after-thought, especially with quickly emerging technologies surrounded by media hype. When rushing to get a product to market as quickly as possible, data protection is often overlooked.
What security risks are you preparing for in 2019, and what technological developments are you most excited about? Share your thoughts in the comments below.