It’s hard to point at one year in the past several that hasn’t been significant for cyber security.

Throughout 2018, the villains continued flying just far enough ahead of the technology curve to elude their victims and the authorities.

Ransomware once again lived up to the hype with a number of malware nasties testing victims’ defences, while creating hell for the unprepared – expect more of the same in 2019, except that both the good guys and the bad will be pointing bigger and smarter weapons at each other.

2019: a multi-fronted arms race

Experts are predicting that 2019 will be a watershed year for the fast-evolving worlds of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Each will be used for good and bad, creating an entirely new battle-ground for organisations and authorities to traverse.

With so many new mobile devices, as well as connected sensors mushrooming across several industries, identifying threats at the so-called ‘edge’ or ‘perimeter’ needs to be top-of-mind. Meanwhile, biometric systems – once considered virtually impregnable – will be tested as criminals discover devious new ways to thwart them.

Altogether, organisations will be under more pressure than ever to lift their game.

Finding the right mix of security technologies will be critical, as is creating effective in-house training and education to increase understanding and awareness.

This means having access to people with the necessary skills and expertise – yes, that ‘old chestnut’.

To help, we’ve created a useful list of ‘The Top 5’ cyber security trends for you to consider and share with your colleagues to make 2019 a safer and more prosperous year:

The top 5 cyber security trends for 2019

1) Privacy and customer data
The massive storm triggered by the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal changed the conversation about customer data and security completely.

No longer is it acceptable for organisations to pay lip-service to the idea that people’s personal information should be protected. Those that fail are liable to intense scrutiny, brand damage, loss of earnings and regulatory consequences.

The news was book-ended by Australia’s and then Europe’s most significant pieces of legislation governing consumer data and privacy.

By now most people will be familiar with NDB and GDPR. Any organisation – even individual – not aware at least of the former and its implications for Australia should make doing so an important New Year’s Resolution.

2) Marriage of virtual and physical worlds
The Internet-of-Things (IoT) trend is causing the line between cyber security and physical security to blur.

While physical security is at least 15 years behind cyber security, smart organisations are pushing the two worlds together under the umbrella ‘Major Incident Management’.

It’s shaping up as a big issue in 2019, especially as industrial sectors take their first steps into this largely unknown world. Joining them will be the healthcare industry, which has veritable galaxies of sensors and electric devices, many of which are critical to peoples’ well-being and integrity of the whole system.

IoT will create untold new and undreamt possibilities for increasing efficiencies in many industries and mass automation will be a big theme in 2019, but there are big risks and companies need to make sure they’re addressing both sides of the equation.

3) Cyber-skills shortage
The skills shortage in cyber security has become so dire that some experts warn that it has actually emboldened cyber criminals to attempt evermore brazen attacks.

Many organisations have responded by trying to bring cyber security in-house, but most lack the necessary expertise needed to develop a proper, tailored cyber security strategy and capability.

Unfortunately, this problem isn’t going away anytime soon, with 2019 presenting a potential tipping-point whereby the public and private sectors agree to work together in addressing this problem.

4) Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
Much focus has been given of late to the powerful possibilities for software systems that can learn and adapt to the environment around them. AI and ML are expected to drive a step-change in how we all identify and solve problems.

However, cyber security experts warn of dire consequences not if, but when, these capabilities are wielded by criminals – if they’re not already being used.

Either way, experts predict AI and ML will become the key weapons driving the perennial cyber arms-race in 2019 and many years to come.

5) Cyber security insurance
The worst incidences of cyber-crime over recent years have grown to rival some of the worst calamities ever to befall commercial and public sector organisations. Even entire states and economies have been rattled, most recently with the US accusing China of stealing IP and other confidential information from some of America’s biggest and most important companies.

But if we’ve learned anything in the past few years, cyber criminals no longer discriminate, and are targeting organisations both big and small.

In response, a number of corporate insurance products have come to market to meet growing demand from businesses that now recognise the potential for major disruption, or worse, if they fall victim.

Brennan IT can help you with every aspect of your cyber security preparedness, so speak to us today and get help from some of Australia’s top tech and business analysts about how you can create and implement an effective cyber security strategy that’ll prepare your organisation for the future.