6 Big Cybersecurity Trends to Watch in 2020

In the world of cybersecurity, if there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s change. Threats are always developing and evolving, and the tools and skills required to respond to and protect against them must evolve as well. < Click to Tweet

While no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, there are several major cybersecurity trends already shaping up for the coming year. These six trends aren’t the only threats that will challenge security professionals in 2020, but they are expected to have a big impact.
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1. More Small-Scale Attacks

Often, when we hear the term “cyberattack,” massive, large scale breaches on large companies – think Target, Experian, etc. – typically come to mind. These massive attacks will continue to make headlines, but the largest increase in attack targets will be small businesses and consumers themselves.

Hackers are still attacking large, high-value targets, but the number of total data breaches overall is increasing. In the first six months of 2019, Risk Based Security reported a 54% increase in attacks compared to the same period in 2018, but the total number of records exposed dropped by 30%. Given that cyberattacks are becoming more complex in addition to becoming more common, watch for the development of more sophisticated security protocols.

2. More Effective Attacks

Again, attacks aren’t increasing only in number, but also in complexity. Data breaches will remain the top threat in the coming year, but as both hackers and security experts implement AI-based tools, attacks will become more sophisticated and, ultimately, more challenging to stop.

Because cyberattacks are improving in quality, the need for well-trained, skilled individuals prepared to meet these new challenges will also grow, creating new job opportunities and demand for cybersecurity experts.

3. More Mobile Attacks

Nearly everyone is using some type of mobile device these days, and that means they are goldmines of data for hackers. Businesses especially need to be concerned about the potential for mobile-based data breaches and the vulnerabilities created by employee mobile devices as endpoints.

Although mobile malware is unlikely to have a significant impact on businesses, consumers are likely to fall victim to an increasing number of fake apps and fraudulent transactions, underscoring the need for more powerful mobile device protection and awareness of mobile security risks.

4. The Continued Dominance of Phishing

Despite the increased sophistication of cyberattacks – or perhaps because of it – phishing remains a dominant method for launching cyberattacks. With email phishing messages, and a continued explosion of ransomware and distributed denial-of-service sites, it’s more important than ever to understand phishing and learn the signs.

Corporate security professionals will need to implement stronger protocols to protect against phishing, including improved authentication and credential management, stronger software protection, and increased training.

5. Changing Privacy Regulations

It’s been almost two years since the General Data Protection Regulation went into effect in Europe, and the influence of those changes is still rippling around the world. In California, for instance, a new law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, to give residents more control over how their data is used and sold. Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, which applies to businesses with more than $25 million in annual revenues, California residents have the right to know when their personal data is being collected and used, and they can request that their data be deleted or not sold.

Experts predict that other states will enact similar laws, meaning that large companies will have additional onus placed on them to protect the data they collect on customers and visitors to their sites. These regulations will increase cybersecurity spending and potentially significantly change how businesses operate.

6. IoT Threats

With practically everything connected to the internet these days, it only stands to reason that the security risks have increased. Every connected device serves as an endpoint and potential source of entry for a hacker, and some, like routers, can serve as a communication access point.

As the IoT – the “internet of things” – becomes more commonplace, some of the biggest related security issues are being addressed, such as the lack of encryption and vulnerable interfaces. There are still new risks being uncovered every day. Expect to see cybersecurity experts faced with answering the challenges inherent in securing the IoT in the coming year.

Looking Ahead

Again, these aren’t the only challenges that cybersecurity professionals will face in 2020, but they are certainly among the biggest. As companies look for new solutions to protect data and keep their companies safe from risk, the need for educated and experienced professionals will increase.

If you’re ready to tackle these challenges and put your technical expertise to work, we offer the following online degree programs at Columbia Southern University:

For more information, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu.

Related: Addressing Threats to U.S. Borders and Cybersecurity [Webinar]