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Network Security Trends to Keep an Eye On for 2015

It might be hard to believe, but the year 2015 is right around the corner. Looking back on the past year, it’s been a tumultuous time in the world of IT and network security. Businesses across the globe have become much more conscious of the security challenges they face, particularly with the recent data breaches that have haunted major corporations. Security is a serious enough issue to worry business leaders, knowing that any breaches they suffer could end up costing a company millions of dollars. That doesn’t even take into account the effect a security breach could have on a company’s reputation with its customers and other businesses. In the face of such challenges, it’s important for an organization to prepare for what’s to come, and that means being in tune with upcoming trends. For those companies looking to stay ahead of the curve, the following are some of the leading network security trends they’ll want to pay close attention to heading into the new year.

More Difficult Security Breaches

This may not be the news that many businesses wanted to hear. For all the worries and concerns over the data breaches that hit places like Target, Home Depot, and Neiman Marcus, the worst may be yet to come. According to some security experts, the security breaches of 2015 are expected to be much more difficult to stop than previous ones. Part of the problem stems from the very nature of breach defenses. The usual process proceeds in a fairly common manner–hackers develop a technique or attack used to infiltrate a network or system, organizations respond by introducing new security measures designed to deal with or prevent that type of attack. The result is usually a reevaluation by the cyber attackers, creating new attacks and threats they hope will frustrate security measures. This pattern then repeats over and over again.

The point to take away from this is that defenses are usually lagging behind the latest threats, and this constant playing-from-behind strategy will end up seriously harming companies in the coming year. As businesses and other institutions respond to these security threats, a number of defenses have been designed to combat individual risks. That means there’s a large variety of security applications, management systems, and agents that might work well on their own but fare poorly when needed to work with each other, which only increases the difficulty of dealing with new security challenges. All is not bleak, however. Many experts are confident that 2015 will be the time when next-generation security solutions will truly come together, forming an integrated system designed to use all of its strengths to finally turn the tide of security risks threatening every business’s network and increase cyber resiliency.

Rise of Risk-Based Security

Off the heels of the news that 2015 will likely be worse for data breaches than 2014, companies are starting to warm up to the idea that the goal of preventing all security breaches may be an impossible one to achieve. Even with the best security measures, breaches will still happen from time to time. With this grim reality in mind, another trend to watch for is the growth of risk-based security solutions. Listed in a Gartner report on the top strategic technology trends for 2015, risk-based security entails a change in strategy for companies learning to fight back against hackers. This means a greater adoption of risk assessment tools, essentially identifying what the biggest threats are and where the greatest vulnerabilities lie in the business’s network and systems. Risk-based security entails a multifaceted approach that uses new applications that are designed to be security-aware. In other words, there’s recognition that protection of the system may be insufficient, so the shift in focus will go toward making sure individual applications have built-in security measures depending on the risks that have been discovered. This makes each individual app self-aware and designed with the ability to protect itself when needed. The hope is that this approach dramatically reduces the number of security breaches organizations have to encounter.

New Mobile Security Strategies for BYOD

There’s little doubt that mobile devices in the workplace have really taken off in recent years. This can be seen in many exploding trends like the greater number of bring your own device (BYOD) policies. A little less than half of all businesses allow some use of personal mobile devices in the office, and a vast majority of workers use their personal smartphones and tablets anyway, even when it isn’t expressly authorized. While there are many reasons for organizations to embrace BYOD policies(greater productivity, happier employees, reduction in operation costs), BYOD has also introduced a number of challenges to network security. Having so many individual devices connecting to a network and keeping everything safe is no simple matter, and the chances one of those devices has a virus or malware is great.

Some companies have adopted a number of strategies for dealing with these BYOD security challenges, like mobile device management software, but even that might not be enough as the mobility market continues to explode and a wider variety of devices are brought to work. That has forced a change of thinking in how to handle BYOD security, which will likely take effect as 2015 gets rolling. The main focus appears to be on how cloud computing can meet the security needs of an enterprise. In much the same way other services are being provided with cloud computing, BYOD security delivered via the cloud is a distinct possibility. Another response to the BYOD security challenge includes greater capabilities of data centers to handle the security demands of organizations. There is also a push to use mobile application management systems designed to monitor applications and protect valuable data instead of fretting over securing each device.

More Credit Card Fraud

A major change is coming, and it involves retailers and credit cards. By October 2015, retailers are required to upgrade point-of-sale systems so that they can read and process new credit cards using chip-and-PIN technology. This technology has been designed to prevent attacks and minimize fraud, and it’s expected to make a significant impact by making it much more difficult for criminals to clone cards and steal identities.

So with these new security measures in place, why are the number of attacks on credit cards expected to increase next year? It’s actually very simple; criminals know these changes are coming and they’re equally aware of the deadline. Basically, they are hoping to get in as much activity as they can before the new security standards are fully adopted. That translates into an expected increase in attacks for the first half of 2015. The goal for these cyber criminals will be to infiltrate as many systems and networks as they can using their traditional tactics. After the new point-of-sale systems are installed, they’ll have to switch up their strategy, which could take time.

Using Big Data Analytics

There are many technologies that have received a lot of buzz in the last year, but few compare to the excitement surrounding the potential of big data. The use of big data analytics has already penetrated areas of marketing and customer interaction, and the realm of security is not far behind. Security threats have become much more complicated in recent years, taxing current security measures and placing added strain on IT departments. With big data becoming more prevalent than ever before, security experts hope it can be used to frustrate hackers and contain the damage of security breaches. Using big data analytics requires an active risk management strategy, and hopes are high that the effect will be sizeable.

From a basic standpoint, big data analytics can be used to sift through mountains of data, detecting patterns the human mind is unable to grasp. Based off of this information, big data analytics can more easily identify suspicious activity and prevent threats from getting too serious. Early detection may also help minimize the damage of data breaches due to a quick response from IT workers. Beyond that, businesses may also adopt context-rich systems in 2015. These systems take big data analytics to the next step, using embedded intelligence within the network that is fully aware of its surroundings and can respond to situations depending on the context of actions and requests. With this machine learning strategy, organizations can employ applications that adjust a security response in accordance with each situation. This makes each response more coordinated and tailored to whatever threat is being faced, increasing the effectiveness of protecting the network.

Conclusion

Security will likely remain a serious challenge for any business no matter the size. Hackers are cunning and adapt to changing situations with surprising ease, but some of these trends show a willingness on the part of companies to change up their own strategies. Technologies are being developed and adopted to improve the increasingly complex security environment. 2015 might be a rough year for network security, but it could be the foundation for a much safer and more secure future for enterprises all over the world.

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