2016 has been an epic year for cyber security and data breaches. From recent hacks at Yahoo and LinkedIn to problems at the FDIC and stolen intellectual property from Glaxo-Smith Kline, this year has been a boon for data breaches large and small.
The past year has shown us that malicious attacks and inadvertent mistakes continue at an alarming rate and the consequences are legal, financial and brand reputation woes.
So how will 2017 fare? Will we see more of the same or a change in the cyber security landscape?
Here are four security predictions for 2017.
1. Cyber Security Legislation will Change the Face of Business
In the US, cyber security legislation is already strengthening as states and the federal government are trying to force businesses to improve their security posture to prevent the next data breach. One example is the new regulation by the New York State Division of Financial Services (NYS-DFS) that goes into effect on January 1, 2017 that requires organizations registered as banks, insurers, and other financial institutions in the state to implement comprehensive cyber security programs and policies. The first bar is to encrypt non-public information. Executives will be held personally responsible for failure to meet these requirements, so this will definitely cause some changes.
Europe is implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act and I can see other countries, including the US federal government, move toward more serious legislation. As more governments realize there is a national security risk from these cyber attacks, they will implement tougher rules to help prevent the leaking of sensitive data.
2. Hackers Will Attack the Supply Chain
If a hacker wants to get access to sensitive information from a large company, the easiest approach is to go after a weak link in the supply chain. This may be a service provider, an attorney or a small business partner. The large company may have adequate security controls for data that is inside the company, but what about when it leaves the company? Does the business partner have adequate security controls?
Unless organizations are protecting the data itself, there is no guarantee that it will remain secure and only accessible by an authorized user. Until organizations persistently protect information at the data level, we will continue to see hacks on the supply chain, including more ransomware attacks, since hackers will exploit the weakest link in the chain. That weak link may be a trusted insider who inadvertently clicks on a phishing email or accidentally sends sensitive information to the wrong email.
3. Organizations Will Impose Stricter Data Security on Contractors and Advisors
To meet stricter regulations and comply with data governance initiatives, organizations in 2017 will place stricter controls on how internal and outside partners access data and collaborate. Internal contractors and other advisors are typically treated as insiders who have access to sensitive data. These trusted insiders can pose serious security threats, since they do not work for the company and may not be subject to the same security standards as an employee. Based on the recent Ponemon Institute survey Risky Business: How Company Insiders Put High Value Information at Risk, 70% of organizations do not know the location of confidential information and 73% believe they lost confidential information in the past 12 months. There is a major risk that a contractor or advisor could steal intellectual property or other high value data and take it with them to their next client.
4. Enterprises Will Adopt a Data-Centric Security Approach Over Perimeter Security
Sensitive data moves in and out of organizations everyday and the volumes will only increase in 2017. Globalization and an increasingly mobile workforce increase the risk of this data getting into the wrong hands. While many organizations focus on securing the network, servers and endpoint devices, the data itself is what matters most. This is especially true as more employees use a combination of work and personal devices and consumer versions of Enterprise File Synch and Share (EFSS) systems.
Organizations will shift their focus from protecting the perimeter to protecting the data itself by encrypting it and applying dynamic security policies that impose granular user access controls so that only authorized users can access it. These security policies will travel with the data regardless of location or device and ensure that the enterprise is always in control of it, including having a comprehensive audit trail of all access. These measures will allow executives, shareholders and other stakeholders to feel confident that business can continue without interruption and meet the governance needs of its constituents.