Cybercrime rates seem to have gone through the roof over the past couple of years, as reports of ransomware attacks like WannaCry and Petya continue to make headlines across the globe. Hacking with a view to stealing valuable information or gaining money through extortion seems to have become a lucrative activity for professional cybercriminals. Against this landscape, cybersecurity experts must constantly be on the lookout, developing new solutions and outsmarting malicious intruders. Security techniques like data encryption and ethical hacking aim precisely at delivering a high level of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity Spending Set to Rise in 2019
Installing and reinforcing our defences against incoming hacker attacks has become a top priority for businesses – and one that claims an important portion of their budget. According to research conducted by Gartner, global cybersecurity spending is expected to surpass a staggering $124 billion by the end of 2019. In 2018, the same figure was estimated at $114 billion, marking an increase of 12.4% from 2017, and this means that the funds allocated will grow by a further 8.7% in 2019. Out of the total sum projected to be invested in 2019, $3 billion will go towards securing applications, $459 million will be allocated to protect cloud computing and data security will claim over $3.5 billion.
The biggest segments are expected to be management solutions for identity access ($10.5 billion), equipment for network security ($13.3 billion), infrastructure security (over $15.3 billion), with security services ranking first and claiming roughly 50% of relevant funds ($64.2 billion). The latter segment is expected to continue to dominate, as it will make for at least 50% of cybersecurity software solutions by 2020, while over 40% of companies will invest more funds in it by 2020 in order to accommodate for issues related to privacy and effective risk management. Spending in the field is not only driven by the looming threat of cybercrime, but also by the added obligations imposed on organizations by new privacy legislation. According to the same source, at least three out of 10 organizations will see funds invested towards consulting and implementation services related to the new EU General Data Protection Regulation rules.
Top Data Security Techniques
In the never-ending race to be one step ahead of hackers, the cybersecurity industry has developed comprehensive solutions to protect sensitive data. One popular security technique is data masking, which uses fictitious data that looks like the real thing to replace valuable and critical data. Data masking minimizes exposure to threats and can be implemented across a range of transformation techniques, allowing companies to comply with privacy and data protection laws. It forms part of a wider array of defence techniques known as data pseudonymization, which is specifically recommended by regulations like the GDPR. It is based on the concept of de-identifying personal data to make it impossible for intruders to determine which data subjects they refer to. Thus, personally identifiable information is protected by rendering it of no value for hackers that do not have access to the pseudonymization key.
Data anonymization is another security technique, which conveys a higher level of security for data subjects since their information is rendered irreversibly anonymous. This means that it can no longer be linked back to them, in contrast to pseudonymization techniques, a process that can be reversed. For companies that still need to use the data they hold in sync with the data subjects, anonymization is not an option, whereas data pseudonymization techniques like data masking allow businesses to keep operating as usual and maintain referential accuracy in their work, without leaving sensitive information exposed to hackers. Finally, data encryption has emerged as a staple approach for cybersecurity solutions. Encrypted data cannot be read by anyone unless they know the encryption key, which makes data safer both at rest, in use, and in transit. Several cybersecurity solutions like Virtual Private Networks use the technique to protect user information and it is also an option in most state-of-the-art smartphones.
The Future of Cybersecurity
Since hackers continue to develop new ways of attacking information systems, the cybersecurity community has turned to novel solutions for fighting back. For several analysts, harnessing artificial intelligence promises to become a game-changer for the industry. Machine learning technology could be employed to allow cybersecurity software to detect malware and other hacker attacks automatically and more efficiently. That could in turn help ease the financial burden for companies, as less manpower would be required to supervise information security defences.
Ethical hacking is another major driving force in the industry, as benign cybersecurity specialists attempt to infiltrate and manipulate a client’s IT systems with the owner’s permission. This is done in order to identify vulnerabilities and ways in which hackers could exploit flaws. The client can then use the information to spot their weaknesses and decide how to fix the issues. Ethical hacking now even forms part of the undergraduate studies curriculum in some universities and is set to become a major trend in the battle against cybercrime.
Hackers have been operating for years, but new technological developments have managed to make their attacks smarter and more effective at causing damage. As the spotlight turns to sophisticated data protection techniques, the cybersecurity industry must continue to learn and adapt in order to offer a high level of protection that today’s users so desperately need.