December 20, 2016

2016 has been a somewhat turbulent year for all, what with the presidential election, Brexit and the death of many of our favourite musicians and actors. Indeed, 2016 has also been the year in which we’ve seen a huge surge in fraud and cyber-crimes against businesses, setting the benchmark for what is to come.

2017 will be welcomed with open arms, both personally (if not least to stave off the impending deaths of further much loved celebrities) and professionally (as we’ve seen endless businesses hit by attack, after attack).

However, when brushing off the snow to reveal the plans for 2017, it’s important that we learn from the Ghost of Christmas Past to help us see what lurks ahead. Here are a few of our prophecies for the coming year:

More data breaches

If you thought you’d heard about a lot of data breaches this year, brace yourself. 2017 is set to make these data breaches seem like child’s play. In 2016 alone, we’ve seen some huge data breaches at some of the largest organisations (Yahoo and TalkTalk to name but a few), however, these don’t tell the half of it.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have been the victim of data breaches and 2017 is teed up to be another bumper year for fraudsters.

Regulation and consumer rights

That’s right. With the ever increasing threat of fraud and cyber-crime, comes the ever increasing need for transparency and regulation. We might not quite be there yet, but serious regulation is on its way in the form of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Whilst GDPR might not be due to come in to force until May 2018, businesses should start thinking about how the regulations will affect them. 2017 will be the year to get up to speed and implement the much needed requirements to ensure businesses are compliant before implementation. We’ll be providing more information on this in the coming months and, in particular, helping our members get ahead of the curve without the hassle, or expense.

What’s more is that we’ll be seeing everyday consumers over in the US successfully suing companies that haven’t looked after their data in accordance with US regulations. There are already mass law suits taking place… and this will, of course, come across the water to here in the UK.

Soon, therefore, data breaches won’t just have a huge effect on your reputation, but will be hitting your bottom line… hard!

The dark web rises

With ever increasing data breaches, we’re going to see even more data being sold on the dark web.

Heard of the dark web? It’s essentially a platform for criminals, fraudsters and organised crime gangs to trade – whether that be stolen property, firearms or as is proving to be increasingly popular, your data. We’ve touched on some of the huge data breaches that have occurred this year but where does all that information go? Inevitably, it’s sold on the dark web to the highest bidder. Why? So that your data can be used to target you through banking scams, or to facilitate malware or ransomware attacks on you and your business.

Evolution, not revolution

It’s inevitable that with all this data flying around, we’re going to be faced with an even bigger threat from phishing emails, ransomware and social engineering than ever before. As we’ve seen recently, the many different types of attacks are continuing to evolve at a fast pace and here are our thoughts on just a few of them:

Ransomware – new types of ransomware are being discovered daily and fraudsters are becoming increasingly clever at how they get to infect our computers and networks. Not only are we facing an increasing amount of phishing emails, but we’re seeing ransomware software even being imbedded in malicious advertising on trustworthy and genuine websites

Phishing Emails – we’re all accustomed to emails purporting to be the trustee of our long lost Uncle’s inheritance, yet phishing emails have already evolved substantially. Expect more and more to address you by name, include other personal details and become increasingly targeted in 2017

DDoS Attacks – there will undoubtedly be an increase in DDoS attacks on businesses, not only bringing some of the best loved businesses offline, but being targeted more and more at SMEs of all sizes. We expect an increase in DDoS threats to come bundled with ransom demands, much like how ransomware affects businesses

Bogus Boss – this was a fairly new type of attack for 2016, but we expect 2017 will be the year it really propels itself to the forefront. Do your staff know how to spot them? Do you have a system in place to avoid falling foul?

Social Engineering – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… if you’re not on them, your employees are. Have you ever considered just how much information a fraudster can get access to about you or your company? “John just wished you a happy birthday”, “Your Mutual Friends”, “Your Job Title”.

Act now to protect your business

There has never been a better time (or indeed, more of a need) to take action within your business to help combat fraud and cyber-crime.

The message from this is clearer than a ghost on Christmas Eve:

‘Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends… but if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.’ Dickens

If you act now and train staff about how to pre-empt attacks and communicate safely and effectively online, we can leave our old habits in 2016 and prevent attacks effectively in the New Year. Act now – in the present – to positively change your business’ safety in 2017.

At The Defence Works, we can help you do exactly that.

Through our cost effective and simple membership plan, your business can benefit from a suite of policies designed to help reduce your risk to fraud and cyber-crime and we’ll provide your staff with bite-size training to ensure they can become your strongest defence. In addition, we’ll provide you with updates on all emerging threats relevant to your industry and location, helping you to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters and to protect your business.

Protecting your business from fraud and cyber-crime needn’t be complicated, or expensive. Our online portal can be accessed by anyone within your business, from anywhere, at any time.

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