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Understanding the state of IT cybersecurity in 2018

By Max Burkhalter
March 5, 2018

Information security is increasingly being discussed on tech sites and in the media. Last year saw some of the most newsworthy cyberattacks in history, with the infamous WannaCry ransomware attack dominating headlines in May. According to Symantec's 2017 Internet Security Threat Report, ransomware attacks increased by roughly 36 percent that year.

Microsoft calculated the potential global cost of cyber crime to be around $500 billion and there is no reason to expect that number will not increase in the coming years. Organizations just beginning cybersecurity efforts need to catch up or risk paying the bulk of that bill. New data has been released from analytical organizations such as Cisco and Gartner on the state of information security in 2018. The best-positioned companies should already be well on their way to safeguarded networks.

"About 44 percent of organizations will increase IT budget in 2018."

IT budgets are on the rise
First off, some rare good news in the fight against cyberattacks: SpiceWorks' State of IT reported that information technology budgets are on the rise across organizations. According to the the survey's data, 44 percent of organizations are expected to increase IT budgets in 2018. Only 2 percent were unsure whether they would do so.

Of course, 60 percent of companies are also expecting an increase in IT revenue this year. This means new hardware and software. Luckily, businesses are hoping to grow their IT staff sizes right alongside revenue expectations. Slightly less than 50 percent of organizations want to increase staff size, and most of the other respondents expect no change at all.

This expansion trend is particularly evident in larger companies, which makes sense as they have more resources. By region, Europe is expected to increase overall IT staff sizes by more than North America, according to the report.

While the majority of budget increases will be allocated to new hardware and software, cloud solutions will also see significant investment, trailing software by just 5 percent (26 percent vs. 21 percent).

Ransomware cryptoworms will grow more sophisticated
Companies will need budgets and manpower to fight increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks. Cisco's new annual report predicts that cybercriminals will evolve their techniques in 2018, bringing in artificial intelligence to maximize ransomware effectiveness.

While many ransomware cryptoworms have been used in DDoS attacks in the past, Cisco believes that this trend will not continue much longer. It warns companies to be prepared for data destruction. If ransomware infiltrates a system, it will simply wipe out large amounts of data. This could prove to be an incredible financial loss, as well as a crippling blow to systems that depend on one another to work properly.

These new attacks will also be designed to automatically breach systems with outdated software, so companies must stay on the ball when updating solutions (whether PC or smartphone) and watching out for potential information security flaws. If "destructionware" becomes an issue in 2018, it will have much longer-lasting effects than previous ransomware attacks.

Organizations are prioritizing digital security
Gartner data indicated that companies are investing heavily in digital security technology. At the CIO level, 71 percent expect to spend on emerging security technologies in 2018. This is practically double the second-place investment, IoT, which had only 36 percent. However, it is best to point out that these boundaries are not rigid as cybersecurity affects IoT and vice versa.

While it is heartening to see investment in cybersecurity reaching the CIO level, Gartner information also found that CIOs are still spending more time with IT personnel (who are aware of IT struggles) than with other executives (who may need more guidance). In order for a company to move forward cohesively and securely, the CIO needs to be involved in company direction.

IoT devices like smartphones are often overlooked in cybersecurity initiatives, making them potential breach points. IoT devices like smartphones are often overlooked in cybersecurity initiatives, making them potential breach points.

Companies continue to look for IT talent
IT talent remains in demand, according to Gartner data. Over a quarter of CIOs reported needing new talent for information security initiatives, with 22 percent stating that such skills are hard to find. AI development continues to be the most sought-after talent, with nearly half of CIOs reporting they need these individuals.

IoT expertise appears to be growing in abundance, with only 10 percent of organizations finding experts hard to locate. This is promising for the state of cybersecurity as a whole, as IoT remains a challenge point for information security.

While some of this news is positive, it should also be seen as a warning sign for any organization not investing in cybersecurity or related initiatives. Technology today is connected - IoT, cybersecurity, AI - all of these developments depend on an organization having strong network infrastructure. IT departments, no matter how large or funded, need to be able to oversee and communicate with an entire company network in seconds. Contact Perle today to find out how we can help strengthen your network infrastructure to meet the cybersecurity challenges of 2018.


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