As the second quarter of 2016 continues, it is increasingly clear that SMEs are faced with an urgent need to secure their IT systems. The year isn't even halfway through and already organizations have seen sophisticated cyber attacks that outstrip those faced in the past. Combating such threats means IT personnel must be sufficiently knowledgeable and qualified, but often companies do not have the resources necessary to hire enough in-house IT staff. Given this challenge, many firms are turning to managed security services to improve their cyber defenses.
2016's Bigger Threats
This year has seen two types of dangerous attacks on the rise: ransomware and phishing.
The ransomware attacks on hospitals are important because they show just how far hackers will go. Many might assume that breaching a hospital's systems and endangering patient lives is too unethical for most hackers to consider. However, in March 2016 alone, there were at least a dozen hospitals or hospital chains inflicted with ransomware, leading the facilities to declare emergencies and turn away patients. The frightening compromises led to a joint alert from the U.S. and Canadian governments, and it's highly likely that ransomware attacks will continue. In 2016, no one can reasonably maintain the belief that they are not a target for hackers.
Phishing is becoming more sophisticated all the time. At the start of this quarter, the FBI issued a warning because of the dramatic increase in email scams targeting businesses. Criminals are no longer simply sending poorly written fraudulent emails that employees can easily distinguish from legitimate messages. Instead, they are “spear phishing”: researching the email recipient, perhaps by looking at his or her social media accounts, and then using this knowledge to customize the scam email to make it more plausible.
As the FBI warning states, a frequent scam is for criminals to assume the identity of an executive in an email to an employee about a reasonable-seeming request to send money. Since phishing attacks are often the way hackers gain entry into IT systems, their increasing sophistication is a significant problem in 2016.
Managed Security Services
Right now there is a tremendous shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. Since they are in high demand and short supply, that means they are an expensive resource that commands large salaries. Often, businesses can't afford to hire enough IT personnel to stay on top of the changing threat landscape.
Because the amount of work needed to combat cyber threats is more than understaffed in-house IT teams can manage, companies are turning to automated security tools for services such as security monitoring and scanning. This streamlines such tasks as incident investigation and vulnerability remediation. With proper defenses, personnel, security tools, and other resources, firms need not fear the ever increasing sophistication of cyber threats.
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