The online security sphere continues to evolve at breakneck speed – responding to the growing risks posed by cyber-deviants. However, as we transition through 2019 this shift is set to accelerate and to avoid devastation, mid-sized businesses must think carefully about network security. Here’s a handful of reasons why.

1. The Double-Edged AI Sword

Artificial intelligence is by now well-established within the business lexicon – its popularity transcended via the medium of chatbots such as Siri and Alexa. But in the cyber-security space, it poses both positive and negative implications. A new report from PandaLabs has revealed that, in 2019, AI-driven algorithms will be engineered by hackers to attack business and corrupt valuable data. Meanwhile, a study by cyber-security firm, Webroot, uncovered that an astounding 90% of cybersecurity professionals in the US and Japan are already expecting attackers to use AI against their companies in the forthcoming year. But while these predictions are, at the very least, concerning. They don’t tell the whole story. A recent article from Computer Weekly found that artificial intelligence is quickly emerging as the frontrunner in the battle against cyber-crime; while a recent article from Forbes reported that AI development has become something of a rat race – with both white hat and black hat hackers vying to utilise the technology to their advantage. In short, AI currently rests at the centre of a cyber-security power play. And for mid-sized organisations to remain adequately protected, they must continuously be on the look-out for updates to both AI-driven cyber-security and cyber-crime.

2. The Increasing Importance of Software Updates

Updating web-based applications can be viewed as a time-consuming, tedious and altogether fruitless endeavour. However, this oft-held opinion could not be any further from the truth. In reality, there is little activity more critical for a mid-sized business than keeping software up-to-date, and a failure to do so can lead to quite catastrophic consequences. A recent article from security behemoth, McAfee, outlined a poignant example of where a laissez-faire attitude towards security updates took its toll. Referencing the 2018 Equifax Data Breach – in which 143 million Americans’ private data was affected – McAfee revealed that a fix for the exploited vulnerability was available two months prior to the attack, but that the company failed to update its software. Costing millions of dollars in damages as well as incalculable reputational damage, this serves as a stark reminder of the importance of keeping software updated. And is a lesson that mid-sized businesses should heed if they are to avoid a similar fate.

3. The Emergence of Cyber-Security Testing

While the growth of computer processing power continues to increase exponentially, the fundamental role of a computer remains the same: it processes data. And the protection of this data remains an enduring problem for members of the business sphere – specifically those residing within the middle of the market who process vast quantities of valuable data daily. Hackers make a living creating ever-more sophisticated methods of breaking into computer systems, but in order to get in, they need a vulnerability to exploit. Offering an opportunity to significantly minimise the number of weaknesses present within business systems – slowing hackers down if not stopping them altogether – cyber-security tests are predicted to rise in popularity in 2019. In a recent article, Forbes reported that the global information security market – of which cyber-security tests are a core component – will exceed $124B in 2019, an increase of 8.7% from last year. While, Information Age published an article predicting that cyber-criminals will become even harder to detect in the future due to the increasingly complicated nature of attacks. With the 2018 Cisco SMB cybersecurity report finding that 54% of all cyber-attacks cause financial damages exceeding $500,000, mid-sized businesses must take advantage of every defence at their disposal if they are to keep hackers at bay.

4. The Growing Demand for Security Expertise

The cyber-security talent gap looms ever larger. In 2019, knowledge and understanding about new, sophisticated hacking techniques will be found lacking in organisations everywhere – despite an unprecedented surge in demand. And while this problem is not exclusive to mid-sized businesses, they will, nonetheless, be adversely affected. In a recent article, Entrepreneur reported that, by 2021, 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs will be unfilled globally, up from 1 million last year. 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, mid-sized businesses are left with few alternative methods to safeguard their valuable data from attack.

How Mid-Sized Businesses Can Defend Against Online Threats

Mid-sized businesses are frequently covered under the umbrella of SME, but, when it comes to cyber-security, the differences between the two can be monumental. Above is just a taster of the types of online security trends likely to impact mid-sized businesses, but 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 business, get in touch with the experts today.