The online security sphere has undergone rapid transformation over the last 12 months – responding to the needs of SMEs to keep pace with the growing complexity and sophistication of targeted cyber-attacks. However, 2019 is looking like it could spark even greater revolution in network security, not least thanks to these four top trends for 2019 and beyond.

1. The Continued Rise of Ransomware

Ransomware is a term that strikes fear directly into the hearts of the cyber-security-conscious.

Popularised by the WannaCry attack on the NHS back in May – which cost over £92 million to resolve – the cyber-attack encrypts vital information, making it inaccessible, before demanding a ransom payment to decrypt it.

And this is set to be a big problem for SMEs.

Not only does a new report from PandaLabs divulge the information that targeted ransomware attacks will become more common in the upcoming year.

But Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report highlights that 58% of malware attack victims are categorized as small businesses.

With further data from Cybersecurity Ventures predicting that the annual cost of cybercrime around the world will rise to $6 trillion by 2021, SMEs must take the threat of ransomware seriously in 2019 if they are going to avoid falling victim to an attack.

2. The Emergence of Biometrics

The humble password has been a source of reliability for as long as valuable data has been stored online.

But in the modern age, where hackers are becoming more and more skilled at breaking password-encoded security, it no longer cuts the custard.

In 2019, many services will look to abandon password-only tenets and offer additional required or optional authentication methods, opting for more secure measures such as facial recognition.

MasterCard, for example, will require all its users to use biometric identification by April 2019. Meanwhile, in a presentation called ‘Kill all Passwords’, PayPal’s global head of developer evangelism, Jonathan Leblanc, proposed numerous biometric security ideas.

One other authentication method that we expect to make a surge in 2019 is the GateKeeper wireless key fob. GateKepper provides an alternative to biometrics; however, still offers users the opportunity to unshackle from traditional password-only protection.

But how does this impact SMEs?

As passwords progress down the path of obsolescence, consumers will come to expect the highest levels of security from all the companies they encounter.

Even for smaller organisations, prioritising what the consumer wants from their online security experience will be the difference between gaining their businesses or losing it.

3. The GDPR Fallout

In 2018, The General Data Protection Regulation was on the lips of just about every security expert.

Disbursing truly remarkable penalties for non-compliance – up to $20million or 4% of global annual turnover – this came as little surprise.

But while the apocalyptic warnings of swift judgment for ill-prepared organisations was often hyperbole, in 2019, this might be set to change.

It’s true, the regulation’s punitive powers have yet to be put fully to the test, but there are some strong contenders who may feel the backlash sooner rather than later.

And the first time the ICO fines someone big, it will be interesting to see how the industry reacts – with many predicting things to snowball as litigation processes become cemented.

In the words of Guardian CRO, Hamish Nicklin: “GDPR is far from over”, and it’s important for SMEs to get their house in order before it resurfaces in 2019.

4. The Growing Demand for Security Expertise

The cyber-security talent gap is already a BIG problem, but in 2019, it’s set to get even worse.

As hackers begin to ramp-up attacks with increasingly sophisticated methods, knowledge and understanding pertaining to risk identification and threat navigation have experienced an unprecedented surge in demand.

Unfortunately, for SMEs, this isn’t welcome news.

In a recent article, Forbes reported that as many as 3.5 million online security positions will be unfilled by 2021. While an Acumin report concluded that, even now, the cybersecurity skills gap leaves one in four organisations exposed.

With the online landscape expected to get ever-more treacherous in 2019, SMEs are left with few alternative methods to safeguard their valuable data from attack.

How SMEs Can Defend Against Online Threats

The online security sphere is undergoing rapid transformation in a bid to keep pace with the growing complexity and sophistication of latest-generation hackers.

And while 2018 may well go down in history as the year everyone got hacked, 2019 has the potential to be recognised as the year the SME fought back.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can improve your online security to reduce vulnerabilities, secure valuable data, and mitigate risks throughout your SME, get in touch with the experts today.